How to Find A Sperm Donor Father: My Search for My Secret Family
written by Barry Stevens
Sperm donation -- and now, egg and embryo donation -- is still usually done anonymously, as it was in 1952, when I was conceived. Today offspring who want to find out who they came from have some advantages. They can write to their donor via a sperm bank or doctor, and sometimes a letter will be passed on, and sometimes even replied to. It is a misconception that all donors have no interest in contacting their offspring. Sometimes it is they who initiate it.Donor Sibling Registry
Donor Sibling Registry
The first and best place to go is Donorsiblingregistry.com. This is a site started by Ryan and Wendy Kramer, son and mother via assisted insemination. They have matched up literally thousands of offspring with their 'donors' and with each other. There are also hundreds of 'donors' on the site who want to be found. It is as private as you want, and on the basis of mutual consent. This is the best resource for those produced by 'donor' insemination.
If a sperm bank or doctor won't help an offspring, he or she already often has information given to the parents when they chose the "donor". Often a basic description and a few details are provided. (One bank even offers a video interview of the donor... In this case, it should be easy!) Usually there is a donor number as well, which can be useful if two offspring from the same bank want to find out if they are half-siblings.
The biographical or physical details may not seem like much, but it is amazing what can be done through hard work, logic -- and a bit of nerve, because of course, lingering in the back of an offspring's mind may be the fear of being told to get lost. There are now professional search agents serving the adoption community. They can also be used by donor offspring.
For those with little information and no response from a sperm bank, the task is more difficult. Any clue can be developed into evidence. I spent a lot of time in libraries, finding the friends and associates of Dr. Berthold Wiesner, the man who found the sperm donors and who may himself have been a possible donor. Letters, interviews with the doctors' friends and family, death, birth and marriage records were all significant. One of the best tools was the web. (here for more)
If an offspring finds a candidate for either sibling or biological parent, and they are willing, he can test them physically. In the old days, physical paternity or sibling testing was a difficult and uneven process. Blood types, recessive genetic characteristics like blue eyes were all important, but gave sometimes uncertain results. DNA testing has changed that entirely and it has gotten much, much more precise in the last few years and is getting better every year. DNA, as Stevens says in the film, is the one record of the past that nobody can destroy or even hide.Image of DNA
DNA testing can establish probabilities of both paternity and "sibship". A swab in the inside of the mouth, or in some cases, a blood sample is necessary. The geneticist compares the two samples on a range of areas on the genome. He/she can never say for absolute certain that two people are related, but when a probability of relatedness exceeds 99.99%, most people are satisfied that the case is proved.
Establishing paternity or maternity is relatively straight forward. Sibship, orHalf-Sibship is much more challenging. It is a good idea, if possible, for the offspring of the third party insemination to get DNA from his or her mother. (For the child od an egg donor or vendor, get the biological father's DNA.) This will enable you to eliminate the Biological Parent's DNA from the equation. What is left is the mystery parent. Then, when you meet potential half-siblings and if they have tested their biologica parents, you have more information for a half sibling test. Larger groups ofhalf siblings, with the two mothers' dna available(or Father in the case of egg 'donation') You still need probably over 20 LOci on the DNA to be tested.
A Facility which I have used in Canada is Orchid Cellmark.their Lab was in the USA.
If You Are Male
If you are male, and are seeking a biological father, a good thing to measure is your Y Chromosome. This is passed down father to son unchanged pretty much. Over time, there are tiny spelling errors in the copying and so each male lineage is abit different from the others. Surnames also pass down father to son usually so often each surname has a typical Y chromosome pattern, like a fingerprint of fatherhood right in your cells. Family Tree DNA of Houston, Texas, is the company I have used for this. They have a huge database of men's Y chromosomes, and you can link and see who you match with at a high level. (37 or even 67 loci.) Those last names might be a clue as to your biological father's name.
If You Are Female
Females can also use this database, because one of their two X chromosomes comes for their biological father. But in this case, you can't search for the name. You can just compare with other half-siblings who might have the same X, to see if you came from the same biological father.