Disclosure Issues in Embryo Donation: Part 4 of 5

Brief Introduction

This is the fourth 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. There were 11 respondents with the results examined below.

Associated Blog Segments

The first segment of this series introduced the disclosure topic and our first survey. The second segment (Part 1 and Part 2) examined disclosure issues from the perspective of the embryo donor, incorporating a survey that asked opinions from our readers.  The third segment (Part 1 and Part 2) examined disclosure from the perspective of the embryo recipient, including our final survey. The results are discussed below.

Survey Results: “Imagine You Were an Embryo Donor Offspring”

1. Regarding the topic of disclosure of my genetic origins:

I would not desire to know that I was created through donated embryos. The parents who raised me are simply my parents and it doesn’t really matter if I came from donated embryos. 18% (2/11)
I would like to know all the available medical information about the embryo donors. I would not, however, want identifying information. 46% (5/11)
I would like to know all the available medical information about the embryo donors. In addition, I would like to be provided identifying information. 36% (4/11)

In this small study sample, the majority [82% (9/11)] wanted to know medical information about their embryo donors, with about half wanting identifying information. These numbers are similar to published data on the desires of egg and sperm donation-conceived individuals.

2. If I were to be told about being an embryo donor offspring, I would want to be told (choose only one):

  • Sometime during ages 1-6 years old            55% (6/11)
  • Sometime during ages 7-12 years old          18% (2/11)
  • Sometime during ages 13-18 years old        18% (2/11)
  • After age 18                                                            9% (1/11)

The majority [91% (10/11)] would prefer to be told of their embryo donor origins before the age of 18, with most wanting to know at 12 years of age or younger. As I wrote in the previous blog, disclosure to the embryo donor-conceived individual after age 10 tends to result in feelings of mistrust, alienation, identity confusion, frustration and even hostility towards their family (Ethics Committee, 2004 & Mahlstedt PP, et al. 2010).

3. If I were provided medical and identifying information about the embryo donors, I would do the following (choose only one):

I would not try to contact the embryo donors. 55% (6/11)
I would try to contact the embryo donors but am most interested in learning about and potentially contacting my blood brothers and sisters. 45% (5/11)
I would try to contact the embryo donors to establish a relationship with the genetic parents and my blood brothers and sisters. 0% (0/11)

About half of those polled would not try to contact the embryo donors while the other half would be interested in contacting their genetic siblings. Published articles on the topic suggest that most donor-conceived individuals are more curious, with many wanting to meet their donors. I believe that if given the contact information, most embryo donor-conceived individuals will become quite curious over time and will eventually want to interact with their genetic siblings and/or the embryo donors themselves.

4. If I found out that I was the product of embryo donation, I would tell the following people:

Relationship Yes No N/A
(not alive or no current relationship)
My “significant other” 91% (10/11) 0% (0/11) 9% (1/11)
My in-laws 60% (6/10) 10% (1/10) 30% (3/10)
My children 60% (6/10) 10% (1/10) 30% (3/10)
My friends 60% (6/10) 40% (4/10) 0% (0/10)
Average: 68% (28/41) 15% (6/41) 17% (7/41)

If one removes the “N/A” category, which didn’t pertain to some of the poll respondents, the majority of embryo donor-conceived individuals would tell their immediate family about their genetic origin, especially to their “significant other.” It would appear, however, that there was some hesitation to tell their friends the same information.

Tomorrow we will release the next installment of this series – Disclosure Issues From the Perspective of the Embryo Donation Offspring. This will be released in two separate sections with the second half released the day after the first.

Next week, we will release our final summary of this series, combining the perspectives of the embryo donors, embryo recipients and embryo donation-conceived offspring.

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