Relationships & Future Contact
Navigating the relationship type between embryo donors and embryo recipients can be a very thought provoking exercise. The type of relationship you decide to have will be addressed in the legal agreement so it is very important to figure out what this might look like before the match can proceed.
We’ve generated this check list to help guide you!
This means you will not exchange full names or any contact information (email address, mailing address, phone number, etc). If you desire a closed relationship please consider the following:
Open Door People change with time and often, mind sets change as well. Ten years from now you may decide you want access to each other for health related reasons, you have questions, or maybe you do want to discuss exploring an open relationship type after all. In order to leave the ‘door open’ the agency will assist the parties with signing up to the Donor Sibling Registry (DSR) after Legal is complete. The cost of this is $199 per membership (Donors and Recipients) which would be the recipient’s financial responsibility. Users sign up with anonymous usernames eliminating the need for a third party facilitator (like clinics or agencies). The agency will communicate the anonymous usernames with each party, and the users may then correspond with one another through that site under those pseudonyms. It is important to remember that the language agreed to in the legal contract is what the parties have agreed to abide by so in a situation where one party changes their mind about the relationship type they want to have and communicate that through the DSR there is a risk the other party will not agree or reply to that request nor are they obligated to under the original terms of the agreement.
Closed Door The parties do not exchange contact information or sign up to the Donor Sibling Registry closing the door to future contact. Should the parties change their mind years from now it is possible that they could contact the agency or attorneys who still have the other parties information and the agency and/or attorney could attempt to contact the other party to see if they would agree to an open relationship. In this case, the requesting party would pay the attorney for their time exuded to create an amendment to the original contract which all parties would sign. In this scenario there is no guarantee that the attorney or agency are still in business at that time, or that the other party can located, or that the other party would agree to such a scenario if they could be located.
At minimum this means you will exchange at least some contact information. The parties may or may not choose to meet or have an ongoing relationship. In order to help you figure out what type of future contact, if any, would be desired under an open relationship you may consider the following:
Contact Info What type of contact information do I feel comfortable sharing about myself? This can include one or more of the following: Full names, home address, email address, phone number, etc
Disclosure Have you told your family members about the embryo donation? Do you plan to tell your children? (*see things to consider*). This may factor in to the type of communication mediums you choose.
Communication mediums What type of communication do I feel comfortable having?
Email: The parties may exchange email addresses and include this in their communication options, or they may request to restrict it to email communication only. Do you want to exchange photos?
Video Conferencing: A step up from email, but not an in person meeting.
Mail: Do I want to be able to send letters, gifts, and/or photos?
In Person: Do I feel comfortable meeting in person, or is this logistically possible (when parties don’t live in the same state)?
Social Media: Do I want to friend the other party on facebook, Instagram or other social media platform? If so the parties should discuss appropriate communication within those means keeping in mind that their friends and family will see anything you post (ie, if embryo recipients have not told anyone in their family that they have received donated embryos it would not be a good idea for the embryo donors to post anything on the embryo recipients wall, or tag them in any content that would reveal this info)
Frequency: In ALL of the above communication methods, the parties should think about how often they want to communicate through each method. In example, maybe the parties agreed to meet in person. If so, when and how often? Maybe just one time? Maybe you all plan to try to get together once every five years? How often do you want to receive updates, if at all? Do you want photos?
Siblings: Do you want the siblings to know about each other? What story will you tell them about their biologically related siblings and how do you plan to refer to one another (ie will the children call each other ‘friends’ or ‘brother/sister’ or ‘cousins’? Will the children born from the embryo donation refer to the donors by first name, or ‘aunt/uncle’ or ‘Mr/Mrs’)?
Things to consider:
Q: Should I tell my child he or she was born from donated embryos?
A: Disclosure to donor-conceived children is strongly encouraged, however, ultimately this is a personal decision that only the recipient parents can make. There is no right or wrong answer. The ASRM ethics committee issued an opinion on this matter and states that research on families who have disclosed indicates that disclosure does not appear to injure the child, and some research suggests a positive effect on parent-child relationships in disclosing families. Research also indicates that among parents who disclose, few express regret, most report positive feelings and report no negative effect on their relationship with their child.
Q: When is the right time to tell a child?
A: from the same ASRM article, the ethics committee suggests: Some social scientists, mental health professionals, parents, and donor-conceived persons suggest that there is an advantage in disclosing during the preschool and school-age years, before puberty, so the child can absorb that information over time and the child ‘always knows’. While there is no research that identifies a specific ideal age for disclosure, the literature suggests that children who are told when they are young respond neutrally, with curiosity, or pleasure, rather than distress. Late disclosure, during adolescence or adulthood, has been associated with negative feelings of confusion, betrayal, distrust, and anger among offspring.
The Myth of Anonymity
Q: If I choose not to disclose to my child/ren that they were conceived from donated embryos how can I guarantee they won’t find out?
A: The possibility of unplanned disclosure has increased with the growing frequency of genetic testing in contemporary medicine and the growing existence of DNA databases. The truth is, anonymity is never a guarantee. Should all parties choose to remain anonymous the Agency will never purposely disclose identifying information of anyone without express, written permission. However, no one, not even your IVF doctor, can guarantee anonymity.