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Identity-Release® Program

"...I have had many wonderful interactions with some of my “biological offspring” (preferred term here tends to vary from person to person), including letter and email exchanges, in-person meetings, and, more recently, zoom meetings. It’s been a real pleasure getting to know some of these fascinating young people and certainly leaves me grateful that, over 20 years ago, I made the donor-identity decision that I did"
- donor in TSBC's Identity-Release program, January 2021

The Sperm Bank of California is a leader in the worldwide trend towards open-identity sperm donation. An open-identity program provides a process for donor-conceived adults to learn more information about their sperm donor; however, each program is unique in what and how information is shared. We want you to have accurate and complete information about the Identity-Release® Program here at TSBC—a program backed by 30+ years of experience and research. We encourage you to read this information thoroughly and hope you will participate in a program that we believe has the best outcomes for families and donors.

About the Identity-Release® Program

The Identity-Release®Program is designed to give adults conceived through donor insemination the option of learning their donor's identity in case they have unanswered questions about their background. The Identity-Release®Program is not designed to create parental or family relationships between donors and their offspring.

Key Facts:

  • TSBC maintains identifying and contact information for all of our donors in confidential files.
  • Identifying information is released only to individuals conceived through donor insemination, not to parents.
  • Donor-conceived individuals must be at least 18 years old to request their donor’s identity.
  • Requests for a donor’s identity must be made in writing.
  • Most adults who choose to learn their donor’s identity do so as part of a process of learning more about themselves and exploring their own identities.
  • We hope donors will be willing to answer questions, however, participating in the Identity-Release® Program does not require donors to meet offspring. 
  • The Identity-Release® Program is a legal commitment; a donor cannot switch to anonymous in the future.

Contrary to the media stereotypes of teenagers showing up unannounced on a donor’s doorstep, TSBC’s research and experience shows that donor-conceived adults are interested in contacting their donor by a method he prefers and they are committed to respecting his wishes. After all, they want the contact to go well so they don’t want to disrupt his life. Not all adults who are eligible to learn their donor’s identity actually request the information. And of those who do request their donor’s identifying information, not all of them attempt to contact the donor.

TSBC asks donors in the Identity-Release®Program to provide us with regularly-updated contact information. Before any information is released to offspring, TSBC will contact a donor and ask him to fill out an Updated Profile. On this form, he will specify his preferred form of contact, if any (i.e., phone, email, letter). After we verify a written request, we send the donor-conceived adult the donor’s Updated Profile including the donor’s full name, last known address, telephone number, driver’s license number, date and place of birth, and preferred form of contact.

Why Participate in the Identity-Release® Program?

Most women using our services request donors who participate in this program because they feel that having the option to receive more information in the future is in the best interests of their future child. We encourage you to consider participating in a program that would allow donor-conceived adults access to information about their genetic origins. While it is true that some donor-conceived individuals are not interested in their donors, it is very normal for people to have questions about where they came from, and we find that many adults are glad to have the opportunity to learn more about their donor.

But don’t just take it from us, we asked our donors why they participated in the Identity-Release®Program. Here’s what they said:

  • 48% felt that offspring have the right to know the donor’s identity
  • 32% said they would be curious about their offspring
  • 20% said that they would want to have this option if they were donor-conceived

Our donors sum up their decisions like this:

“I tried to put myself in the shoes of someone who was the result of such a donation. I might not actually look up the donor, but it would be reassuring to have the option to do so.”

“I can empathize with someone wanting more information about a piece of their background.  And, I’m curious myself about my genes and how they might manifest, so I would welcome a chance to learn some about that by meeting someone conceived with my sperm.”

“I believe in open source knowledge in many facets of our society. After giving it some due consideration it seems like this kind of knowledge about oneself is equally important and perhaps more so.  If there are questions that arise, which seems likely, then this is a way to enable donor offspring to be able to address those questions through formal channels.”

Alternatives to the Identity-Release® Program:

Most sperm donor programs offer an anonymous option.  If you are not comfortable with TSBC’s Identity-Release® Program, you can opt not to be a sperm donor, or you may choose to donate elsewhere.  

 It is important to keep in mind that even if you choose anonymous donation you may be identified by donor-conceived individuals or their parents.  No sperm bank can guarantee that a donor will never be identified. The Internet, and the ever-increasing capacity to cross-reference information on any subject, has led to a few donors being identified.  New technologies such as DNA testing services can increase the chance that donor-conceived offspring or their parents may be able to identify their donors.  We share this information because we want you to be fully informed and to make decisions now that you will be comfortable with in the future.  We want the best outcomes for our donors, offspring and parents. Our research and experience tell us that the best outcomes for all parties come from mutual consent openness programs like our Identity-Release® Program.

If the above possibilities are upsetting to you, then you should reconsider whether you are truly comfortable participating in a sperm donor program.