Disclosure Issues in Embryo Donation – Survey 2 Results

Brief Introduction
This is the third of a five-part series examining the complex decision-making surrounding the disclosure of the genetic origins of embryo donor offspring to family, friends and the offspring themselves.

Associated Blog Segments
The first segment of this series introduced the disclosure topic. We next conducted a survey with questions asked from the perspective of an embryo donor. Incorporating the results of the survey, the second blog segment, Part I and Part II, examined the disclosure issues from the perspective of the embryo donor. A second survey was released asking the readers to imagine they were embryo recipients. The results of that survey are discussed below.

Survey Results: “Imagine You Were an Embryo Recipient”

1. If I were an embryo recipient, I would prefer an (choose only one):

  • Anonymous Embryo Donation 44% (15/34)
  • Approved Embryo Donation 24% ( 8/34)
  • Open Embryo Donation 32% (11/34)

Not quite half of the respondents wanted to receive donated embryos in a totally anonymous fashion, twice as many as the first survey where respondents imagined they were embryo donors. In total, about 2/3rds of the respondents preferred an anonymous donation process. When receiving embryos, anonymity seems to be a priority.

2. If I received donated embryos, I would tell the following:

Relationship Yes No N/A
(not alive or no current relationship)
My parents 73% (24/34) 21% (7/34) 6% (2/34)
My in-laws 62% (21/34) 29% (10/34) 9% (3/34)
My siblings 71% (24/34) 21% (7/34) 9% (3/34)
My children 70% (23/34) 30% (10/34) 0% (0/34)
My friends 59% (20/34) 38% (13/34) 3% (1/34)
Average: 66% (112/170) 28% (47/170) 6% (9/170)

More than twice as many respondents would tell family and friends about receiving donated embryos than would not tell. As you will see in the upcoming blog, the percentage wanting disclosure here is significantly higher than is seen with actual embryo donors.

3. As an embryo recipient, would you want to tell any of your embryo donation offspring that they came from donated embryos?

  • Yes                        59% (20/34)
  • No                        18% ( 6/34)
  • Not certain          23% (  8/34)

More than half of the respondents stated they would tell their children that they came from donated embryos. Those that were uncertain may move towards nondisclosure if disclosure is not done early.

4. As an embryo recipient, if I chose an Anonymous or Approved Embryo Donation (both are still anonymous), I would prefer to:

  • Remain Anonymous:                                                                                                                        41% (14/34)
  • Be initially Anonymous with the possibility of Open-Identity at Any Age:                        56% (19/34)
  • Be initially Anonymous with the possibility of Open-Identity at 18+ Years of Age:              3% (   1/34)

If the respondent chose an anonymous procedure, slightly less than half stated they would stay anonymous. If Open-Identity was preferred, nearly all wanted to have the ability to contact the donors when the child was younger than 18. Interestingly, this same pattern was seen in an earlier survey where the majority desired open-identity before age 18 but answering from the perspective of the embryo donor. Once again, this is very different than what is currently done with adoption.

5. As an embryo recipient, if I chose the Open Embryo Donation process I would prefer:

  • Open Embryo Donation with Open-Identity at any age:                                    44% (15/34)
  • Open Embryo Donation with Open-Identity at 18+ years of age:                        56% (19/34)

In the Open-Identity part of the contracted process, slightly more of the respondents wanted the option to contact the donor when the child was at least 18 years of age. Because the percentages were so close, however, it is possible that the respondents were rather split in this decision.

Thank you for your input. Tomorrow we will release the next installment of this series – Disclosure Issues From the Perspective of the Embryo Recipient. This will be released in two separate sections. With the completion of this segment, we will also launch our final survey and hope you will again give us feedback.

2 Responses to “Disclosure Issues in Embryo Donation – Survey 2 Results”

  • I am trying to be a recipient and appreciate the discussion. Ideally I hope to have an Known and Open Donation but am taking it all one day at a time and am grateful for resources such as miracleswaiting and snowflakes. Please keep me in touch and I look forward to following this thread.

    I also follow postings and sites by donor conceived people as I feel they have the greatest insight. Things are constantly changing and I believe the way embryo donation is developing is a great thing. I recently met Kathleen LaBounty who writes about her experiences and changing perspectives here: http://childofastranger.blogspot.com/ This and many other testimonials have really changed my perspective and ideally I want to have a known donation, but am open to what comes to me and working intuitively and compassionately through these choices.

    Thank you for bringing a forum together and hopefully this will help to make positive change.

    • Margo: Thank you for leaving your comment. I think there are a couple of important points to emphasize.

      Be aware of the total costs involved with the matching facilities you listed understanding that open procedures usually cost twice that of anonymous options. Also, be certain that no embryo donors are paid for their wonderful gift. I am aware that working outside of actual ART facilities or without careful legal representation has resulted in problems.

      I will be blogging about the perspective of the offspring next week, so you will probably be interested in reading this.

      I actually think the idea of what has been done with sperm donation regarding open-identity may be the best of all worlds. If such an open-identity option were brought into the world of embryo donation, it would result in the following:
      • Anonymous fees with the possibility of an open process at a later date.
      • The embryo recipients make the decision to disclose without being forced to through contracts or the mere fact that so many people are aware of the donor/recipient process.
      • The recipient is also in control of when to disclose if the embryo donor has allowed this option.

      I believe discussing the options with a skilled mental health professional may be of benefit as long as they stay neutral and not assume that embryo donation is the same as adoption and that disclosure is appropriate for all. In a recent interchange with Phyllis Martin, LPC, was encouraging and she may be worth contacting before you make any decisions. Once again, legal consultation may also be very useful.

      Once again, thank you for the comment and please encourage others to read the segments and leave comments of their own. Good luck in all that you do.

      Craig R. Sweet, M.D.
      Founder, Medical and Practice Director
      Embryo Donation International

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