Should I use the DSR to keep future contact with my donor?

In your fertility journey, you might need to turn to sperm, egg, or embryo donors for help to realize your family creation dream. Like many other parents, you might have concerns and questions about the future contact arrangement with your donor. You might have heard of the option of the Donor Sibling Registry (DSR). But how does it work? This article will help you better understand the future contact option with your donor and how you can use the DSR in your donation arrangement.

Future Contact with your Donor

It is important for you and your donor to enter a legal contract to protect your parental rights. By signing the legal contract, the donor consents to waive his/her right of possession of the donated gamete or embryo so that you, as the recipient, will become the legal owner of the donated gamete or embryo. Another reason to sign a donation legal contract is due to the financial obligations involved in some of the donations. When there are financial responsibilities in your donation arrangement, you should have the financial terms outlined in your donation agreement to avoid potential disputes in the future. Typically, another important aspect of this agreement is to specify the relationship that you would like to keep with your donor after the donation is completed, and what type of relationship you want to make available to your future child or children.

There are usually three types of donation relationships: known, semi-known, and unknown (or otherwise referred to as anonymous). Although these terms have many definitions to many people, we have found that when people refer to known donations (sometimes referred to as open donations), you and your donor will disclose your identities to each other and agree to some level of direct communication. Unknown (anonymous) means that your donation is completely facilitated by the third party (usually a donation agency or a clinic), and both parties have agreed not to share identifying information. Semi-known donation (sometimes referred as semi-open donation) lies on the spectrum between known donation and anonymous donation. In Semi-known cases, you may not know the identity of the other party, but you have agreed to communicate within certain parameters with the assistance of certain tools. Regardless of the formality of the donation, it is very common that the recipients want to maintain a possible future contact with the donor without exchanging each other’s identities or contact information at the time of the donation.

There are several ways to maintain future contact with your donor without releasing each other’s identities, including contacting the other party through your separate legal counsels, exchanging anonymous contact email addresses at the time of the donation, and registering on the DSR. Of these options, in our view, DSR is currently the best option available.

What is the DSR and how does it work?

The DSR is a non-profit organization which helps sperm donors, egg donors and other donor conceived children to form mutually desired contact with whom they share genetic ties. As recipients, if you choose to use the DSR to keep future contact with your donor, you and your donor would first have to include an agreement about registering with the DSR in your legal agreement. The next step would be to create your separate profiles on the DSR’s website upon the completion of your donor’s donation. This includes a registration fee. Once you and your donor separately create your profiles on the DSR, you will be matched using the registration information (e.g. account number or name code) which you agreed upon in your donation agreement. You and your donor will both be required to use an email account and a mailing address to register on the DSR. As such, when you decide that you want to reach out to the other party, you can send him/her a message on the DSR. Once the message is sent, the other party will receive a notification in his/her email. If the other party does not respond or does not check his/her DSR message for a long time or the DSR system discovers that the sent email is undeliverable, the DSR will send a physical letter to the his/her mailing address.

Things to consider before registering on the DSR

While the DSR may be a desirable tool for you to use when you would like to maintain future contact with your donor without having to rely on a third party’s assistance, there are several things that you need to consider before registering on the DSR website. First, you should decide if you will be committed to this information exchange method. Using the DSR requires you and your donor to update personal information at least once a year to make sure that the other party will be able to reach you through the platform. Updating your information is also crucial for exchanging medical information in the situation where your donor conceived child or your donor discovers medical conditions after the donation that could potentially affect each other’s health. As long as both parties update the information as required, using the DSR should help you to keep in touch with the other party as intended.

The DSR recommends that you include specific contract language between yourself and your donor to give yourselves the best chance for having a successful match. This includes, among other things, an agreement to continue to keep DSR updated, so that when messages are sent through DSR, the notifications will be received by the recipient party.

More information about how to set up an account with DSR, and recommended contract language can be found here. With all this in mind, be aware that the DSR is ultimately a business, which inherently means it has a finite lifetime. Therefore, it is not guaranteed to still be there when your donor conceived child is old enough to make his/her own decision to initiate contact with your donor. To address this concern, DSR has expressed that they have implemented plans to keep the DSR running long term, even if ownership may change.

Another consideration to make is that by utilizing the DSR, all children conceived through a specific donor that are registered on the DSR may be able to discover the existence of one another, and potentially communicate with one another. This is by design,

Learn more

To sum up, there are several things that you need to consider during the different steps of your donation arrangement. Before you start the donation, you need to decide what form of relationship you would like to maintain with your donor. You also need to think about if your donor conceived child would wish to initiate contact with the donor in the future. If you choose to keep contact with your donor after your donation without directly exchanging contact information, you would need to update your contact information with the third party that you select to communicate between you and your donor. We understand that making these decisions can be difficult. To learn more about the donation process or set up an consultation appointment with fertility law specialists at Falletta & Klein, contact us today.

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