One of the most important decisions intended parents and donors make in an egg donation is the level of openness and the degree of anonymity. Openness refers to future communication. Anonymity means whether the donation is identified or anonymous. This decision affects not only the egg donor and the intended parents, but also the future children resulting from a donation. Some research shows that it may be beneficial for the mental health of donor-conceived children to know more about their donors, and that concealing the donation may result in feelings of shame or mistrust when the donation is discovered. A recent survey also found donors and donor-conceived children prefer contact in the future. Furthermore, as technology increases with better facial recognition software and more prevalent DNA testing, anonymous donations are no longer guaranteed to be anonymous. Nonetheless, known donations can cause fear of uncertainty for intended parents and donor however, as parties may fear intrusive future contact, as popularized in fictional media.
At Tsong Law Group, we discuss all options of openness and anonymity with our clients when we prepare an egg donation agreement and draft or review the agreement accordingly. In this article, we discuss the differences in the options you may choose as you move forward. It must be noted that the degree of openness or personal information shared ultimately depends on what both parties are willing to agree to.
Anonymous or Closed Donor Arrangement
An anonymous or closed donor arrangement is the traditional type of egg donation that was once the only option available to intended parents and compensated egg donors. In an anonymous or closed donation, the intended parents will choose an egg donor while knowing information such as education, age, blood type, and physical characteristics, and the egg donor will know nothing about the intended parents.
When it comes to disclosure, both parties will be protected by confidentiality. Neither party will receive identifying nor contact information for each other, and the clinic, agency and attorneys will preserve the anonymity of the parties. The drawbacks for this type of arrangement include that future communication may be unavailable if the child has medical issues that have a genetic component where the donor might be able to assist or vice versa, if the child learns of the donation and wishes to contact the donor, if the donor has curiosity or a desire to know the child in the future, or if the intended parents discover inaccuracies in the donor profile. Note that recent laws in states such as California may allow the donor to communicate with a child that seeks them out when the child is 18.
Semi-open Donor Arrangement
Considering the drawbacks of an anonymous, closed donor arrangement, the semi-open donor arrangement mitigates some of these drawbacks while minimizing fear of intrusiveness by either party. In this type of donor arrangement, the arrangement remains anonymous. The parties will not receive full names, phone numbers, or other contact information of the other party.
When it comes to future communication, there may be an intermediary for future contact such as the agency or attorneys, or a portal such as Donor Sibling Registry where both parties can register and communicate anonymously. Sometimes the parties may choose to exchange anonymous email addresses. Generally, these arrangements require the intended parents to notify the donor of a successful birth including date of birth, and successful pregnancy. The parties are not required to respond to any contact they receive from the other.
Choosing this type of donor agreement allows intended parents to have potential future contact with the egg donor. This may also transition to open donation if the parties choose to identify themselves. The potential drawbacks to this arrangement are that there may be additional costs for joining a portal, or the agency or attorneys may not agree to the contact or may charge to facilitate it, and there is no guarantee there will be any response or that the message will even be checked by the other party.
Open Donor Arrangement
The third type of arrangement, the open donation, is less common in compensated egg donation but is becoming more common and acceptable. In fact, Colorado has passed legislation requiring donations to be open in the future. In this type of arrangement, the parties will be provided with each other’s identifying information including their full names, and phone and/or email addresses. When it comes to communication, it allows the parties to have direct communication potentially throughout the life of a child born via egg donation. However, this arrangement does not guarantee ongoing contact. The egg donation agreement should have a process for one party to request contact cease if contact is no longer required. The contract should also make clear that certain conduct, such as the donor being referred to as a parent or mother, will not be acceptable.
If you are planning an egg donation, contact a fertility lawyer who is experienced in egg donation and versed in the different options for openness and anonymity.
Attorney Ralph Tsong has been accepted into the Academy Adoption & Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (AAAA) and Academy of California Adoption-ART Lawyers (ACAL) and can handle your case with ease and efficiency.
If you need assistance, contact us now.
This article is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon without additional research or consulting an attorney. This article is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship with the reader.