Do heterosexual parents of young children following oocyte donation (OD) and sperm donation (SD) tell or intend to tell their offspring about the way he/she was conceived?
Following successful treatment with oocytes or sperm from identity-release donors in Sweden, almost all heterosexual couples intend to tell their offspring about the way he/she was conceived and some start the information-sharing process very early.
WHAT IS KNOWN AND WHAT THIS PAPER ADDS:
Although the Swedish legislation on identity-release gamete donors has been in effect since 1985, there is a discrepancy between the behaviour of donor-insemination parents and the legal intention that offspring be informed about their genetic origin. The present study contributes data on a relatively large sample of oocyte and sperm recipient couples' intended compliance with the Swedish legislation.
DESIGN AND DATA COLLECTION METHOD:
The present study constitutes a follow-up assessment of heterosexual couples who had given birth to a child following treatment with donated oocytes. Data collection was performed during 2007-2011; participants individually completed a questionnaire when the child was between 1 and 4 years of age.
PARTICIPANTS AND SETTING:
The present study is part of the Swedish Study on Gamete Donation, a prospective longitudinal cohort study including all fertility clinics performing gamete donation in Sweden. For children conceived via OD, 107 individuals (including 52 couples and 3 individuals) agreed to participate (73% response). For children conceived via SD, the response rate was 70% (n = 122 individuals, including 59 couples and 4 individuals). Mean age of participants was 34 years (SD 4.4) and they reported a high level of education.
The majority of participants (78%) planned to tell the child about the donation, 16% had already started the information-sharing process and 6% planned not to tell their child about the donation or were undecided. Many were unsure about a suitable time to start the disclosure process and desired more information about strategies and tools for information sharing. Agreement on disclosure to offspring within the couple was related to the quality of the partner relationship.
BIAS AND GENERALIZABILITY:
There is a risk of selection bias, with gamete recipients preferring secrecy and non-disclosure declining study participation. The results may be regarded as partly generalizable to heterosexual couples with young children following treatment with gametes from legislatively mandated identity-release donors in an established donor programme.
STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTERESTS:
Study funding by Merck Serono, The Swedish Research Council and The Family Planning Fund in Uppsala. No conflicts of interest to declare.
2012. Vol. 27, no 10, 2998-3007 p.