Known vs. Anonymous Donors
A known donor is someone whom you know and personally select. The donor might be a relative, friend, or other acquaintance or you may have found him or her through advertisement or online research.
Donors who are located through a matching program or a cryobank are often referred to as “anonymous” donors. A better term is “unidentified donor.” The likelihood that a donor will remain anonymous in this day of direct-to-consumer genetic testing is unrealistic.
Locating your own donor bypasses the expense of retaining a commercial- or a fertility center-based recruitment program. In addition, you may feel more comfortable having a personal and direct connection with the donor and sharing the donation process with each other. Understanding the donor’s family background, lifestyle, personality, motivation, and integrity may inform your decision to work with someone you know. You might also be considering the future child and the possibility of contact with the donor. While an agreement for future contact may also be made in an unidentified donor situation, the practical aspects may be complicated or unworkable which is why choosing a known donor may facilitate the process.
There can be, however, some potential disadvantages to working with a known donor: unrealistic expectations about the relationship between the two of you and with the child, coercion, confidentiality, and possibly, a disruption of your personal relationship. In addition, in some states, a termination of any parental rights the donor may have may be needed or recommended, adding cost to the process.
Particularly in the case of known donors, and especially with family members, it is absolutely critical that all the generally-followed safeguards (independent legal representation, psychological consultation, and screening and medical evaluation) are firmly in place. Your familiarity with each other should not be temptation to skip any of the procedural steps. These provide you and your donor with important information, ensure that everyone is able to give fully informed consent, and that everyone’s rights and interests are protected. Should there ever be a dispute, then it is more likely that your intentions will be followed if the customary protections are in place.