Known vs. Anonymous Donors
A known donor is someone who the recipient or intended parent knows and personally selects. The donor might be a relative, friend, or other acquaintance or may have been found through an advertisement, networking, or online research.
Donors who are located through a matching program or a cryobank often are 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.
The process of locating a known donor is one that bypasses the expense of retaining a commercial- or a fertility center-based recruitment program. Some donors and recipients feel more comfortable having a personal and direct connection and sharing the donation process with each other. Understanding each other’s family background, lifestyle, personality, motivation, and integrity may inform the decision to work with someone you know. The parties might also be considering the future child and the possibility of future or even ongoing contact with the donor. While an agreement for future contact also may 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 are potential disadvantages to working with a known donor: unrealistic expectations about the relationship between the parties and with the child, coercion, confidentiality, and possibly, a disruption of your personal relationship. Additionally, in some jurisdictions, the donor may have to undergo a formal termination of parental rights process, which may add to the overall cost.
Particularly in the case of known donors, and especially with family members, it is absolutely critical that all the generally-followed safeguards (a written legal agreement, 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. Having a written legal agreement that addresses all of the issues and potential future issues between the parties is absolutely essential. These safeguards provide all parties 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 the intentions of the parties will be followed if the customary protections are in place.