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Should Donor Conceived Children have Access to Their Genetic Histories?

A blog by Embryo Adoption Awareness Center, March 19, 2015

When the newest adoption choice of embryo adoption is discovered, people are surprised to learn that the agency is advocating for the use of an open adoption model. Openness is often the thing that is most attractive to families choosing to donate through an embryo adoption program. Openness may be the reason that embryo adoption agencies have embryos waiting for recipient families and fertility clinics have long waiting lists of patients who would like to use anonymously donated embryos.

Pitfalls of the anonymous model were recently revealed after folks in Australia learned that medical staff at a fertility clinic had tampered with their records. No access to potentially vital medical information, no genetic history, no cultural heritage, no access to information that could link them to genetic siblings.

Dr. Laura Burns, found her father after a four-year search that led her to the original treating doctor, who used his own records to discover the sperm donor’s identity. Burn said that, “knowing who you are should not depend on the good will of a doctor.” Dr. Burns search ended with success for her, but she realizes that many others will not be as fortunate.

Embryo adoption programs allow genetic and adoptive families to mutually agree upon the level of openness between families. This is one of the ‘best-practices’ from the adoption world that is applied to the process of embryo adoption. Agencies keep permanent records of embryo donation matches. The families may have the agency act as an intermediary, passing along news and photos. Other families may agree to email or have closed groups on Facebook to stay updated. Some families may even decide to simple make relationships an extended part of their family lives. An open model meets the needs of the child now and in the future, advocating for telling children about their unique family origins – no secrets!


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