Social network donor, known donor, (un)known donor, private donor, dedicated donor, non-anonymous and open donor are ALL terms commonly used to refer to sperm donors around the world who you have some kind of physical interaction with.

These are people that you know personally, such as men within your friendship circles, they could be work colleagues, neighbours, within your community or relatives.  They could also be men you’ve formally been in a relationship with or had some emotional ties with during your life or they could be men you’ve recently met online through social networking channels, connections sites and mobile apps to connect with purely to create a baby.

An anonymous sperm donor is someone who donates directly to a fertility clinic, cryos or sperm bank.  You don’t get to meet them in the flesh and you may or may not get to pass your eyes over a recent photo of them. A recent pic may mean it’s several years old too!  These donors basically fill in a questionnaire with information about themselves so you can read it to get to know them.  Kind of like a dating profile.  They’ll include information such as their family tree, personal body characteristics as well as their personality type.  They usually include hobbies, sporting or educational abilities and interests as well as both personal medical insight for them and their family.  Not that any of this info can be proven as authentic or not – these guys can write down anything they choose or remember, gulp!  I mean, do they really know the colour of their great grandfather’s eyes?  

More recently, these types of donors are being referred to as sperm providers within donor-conceived circles because they don’t donate their jizz, they get paid for it. Here in Australia, it’s illegal to pay for sperm so men are given a stipend of around $25 for their time and to cover transport costs to the clinic.

To be approved as an anonymous sperm donor or sperm provider, these guys must complete medical, semen and genetic tests before they are accepted by these facilities and must undergo a counselling session before their sperm is added to that fertility clinic’s sperm bank library.  

Women are then able to select a sperm donor by reviewing these donor profiles online.  Some anonymous donors at clinics are also referred to as open or non-anonymous donors which is confusing but the major difference between them and known donors is that they cannot be accessed or contacted by any donor-conceived offspring until they are 18 years of age. However,  this is not carved in stone as the power ultimately lies with the clinic or state you live in, the fertility clinic policies and the donor’s views at the time of donation.  There are also closed donors who are to remain exactly that, closed. They do not want contact ever with any donor-conceived offspring.  This type of clinic donor is not available in Australia anymore.

You can’t just pick up a phone and have a chat with an anonymous sperm donor to ask general questions.  The only information you’ll ever have about these donors is what’s on the piece of paper. Well for at least for 18 years! And if your donor-conceived child chooses to search for their anonymous donor using an at-home DNA kit before they turn 18, some donors may respond at some point or be prepared to receive a cease and desist from the clinic or cryobank.  Yikes!

Pic: Mohamed Hassan (Pixabay)

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