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Preparing to remove your donor anonymity

If you donated your eggs, sperm or embryos before 31 March 2005, you will have done so anonymously. However, the law has since changed to allow donors the opportunity to remove their anonymity and become identifiable to adults conceived from their donation. This page tells you how you can do this, what it means for you, and things you should consider before going ahead.

Can I remove my donor anonymity?

You can remove your anonymity if you donated at a UK clinic licensed by us between 1 August 1991 and 31 March 2005. If you donated before 1 August 1991 then you may wish to contact the Donor Conceived Register for more information as we would not hold any information about your donation.

What does removing your donor anonymity mean?

If you donated your eggs, sperm or embryos before 31 March 2005, you were an anonymous donor. This means adults conceived from your donation can only access non-identifying information about you. You will have provided this information at the time you donated and your clinic will have submitted this to us. By law, we hold this information on our secure database (‘the Register’) and we have a duty to provide it to people conceived from your donation (over the age of 16) if they apply for this.

However, the law changed in 2005 to allow you the opportunity to remove your anonymity. This means you can re-register with us as an identifiable donor, which means agreeing to your identity being shared with any person conceived from your donation who is over 18 and requests it.

Re-registering as identifiable means you agree to your full name, date and place of birth and the most recent address being shared and we must release this information within 20 working days of the request being made. This process is known as ‘Opening the Register’.

While there may be some donor-conceived people who do not feel any need to find out about you or contact you, for other donor-conceived people this possibility will hold immeasurable value.

You need to be aware that, if you re-register, your anonymity cannot be re-instated at a later date. This makes it all the more important for you to take your time at this stage to consider all the implications for yourself and any others who may be affected by your decision.

We strongly encourage you to take advantage of our confidential support service, which gives you the chance to talk things through with a donor conception support worker in a way and at a time to suit you – this could be by phone, email or in a face-to-face meeting.

The support worker can also act as an intermediary if a donor-conceived person at a later stage decides that they would like to contact you. For most people this service is freeIf you prefer, you can ask to talk through this decision with the specialist counsellor at the clinic where you donated.

Things to consider

Have you found out the outcome of your donation?

You can apply to us to find out the number, sex and year of birth of any people conceived from your donation. If you haven’t applied for this information, we strongly recommend you do this before you decide whether to remove your anonymity.

Apply for information

Up to 10 different sets of parents can use the same donor and each can use the same donor for more than one child. Therefore, it’s possible there may be more than 20 people conceived from your donation, but it’s also possible that there are none.


What are your expectations?

Are you hoping to meet people conceived from your donation or do you simply want to give them the chance to find out more about you if they want to? </p?

Whatever your reasons for removing your anonymity, it’s important to remember that the choice about applying for your identifying information and the decision about whether and when to contact you rests completely with the donor-conceived person.

Some donor-conceived people would not have been told that they were donor-conceived and so would have no reason to access information. Also, some may find out later in life, for example, after their parents have died, and so you could be quite elderly before they seek contact.


What are your reasons for removing your anonymity?

Is this a good time for you? If you donated over 18 years ago, a donor-conceived person could potentially access your information quite soon after you re-register as identifiable. Do you feel prepared for if someone chooses to contact you now or later, or for potentially no contact to ever be made?


Financial responsibilities

You would not have any financial responsibility to people conceived from your donation.


Are your family/partner/children/friends aware you were a donor?

If not, have you considered telling them? You might find it useful to access some support about how to go about this.


What effect might your decision have on your current or future partner/children or wider family?

Including your family in your decision and being as open and honest as possible may help them and you feel more at ease. However, some of your family members may prefer you not to remove your anonymity. Will this make a difference to the decisions you make? How will you handle it either way?


Whatever your reasons for removing your anonymity, it’s important to remember that the choice about applying for your identifying information and the decision about whether and when to contact you rests completely with the donor-conceived person.

Other things to keep in mind

What might a donor-conceived person’s expectations of contact be?

How might they match your own and how do you think that you would manage these expectations?

If you were to be contacted by a person conceived from your donation, there are many possible outcomes; they may not live up to your expectations or they may exceed them.

They could have different needs/wants to you. For example, they may just want a one-off communication and/or photo to satisfy their curiosity about you and why you donated, or they may be looking for more – possibly an on-going relationship with you and your family.


What is the importance to you of ‘nature versus nurture’?

The person conceived from your donation may have inherited some characteristics from you – is this genetic connection important to you?

The significance of what is inherited from genetic parents is different for everyone, which means that the donor-conceived person might view it differently to you, as might your family members.


Multiple donor-conceived children

If more than one person has been conceived from your donation, they could be siblings within the same family or they may have been born to different families.

It’s possible that several people conceived from your donation might access your details at the same time. Some may be twins or triplets. One sibling might not wish to have contact or may not even know about the request.

Expectations and needs may vary from one person to the next and from one parent/set of parents to the next. Parents also may not be aware that their son/daughter has applied for identifying information about you.


How contact is made

After getting information about you, a person conceived from your donation may decide to take their time before making contact, if at all, or they may contact you straight away. They may change their mind several times. It may feel very difficult for you to know that they could contact you at any time, ‘out of the blue’ or not at all.

You do not have any legal obligation to meet the donor-conceived person or to respond to any methods they use to contact you. However, this could be upsetting and lead someone to just turn up at your home. In these circumstances you may not have a choice about how you would like to be contacted, or about meeting the donor-conceived person.

We encourage donor-conceived people to access the support service where they can discuss how contact with you could be made in a considered way, but this cannot be guaranteed.


What if the person conceived from your donation wants to meet your family (and/or your own child(ren)) in the future and vice versa?

Meeting the donor-conceived person’s family could change relationships within their family and yours and both families may need time to adjust.

You may also need to help your child(ren) (if you have any) to adjust to potentially meeting them. Your child(ren)’s and your partner’s hopes, fears and expectations may be very different to your own.


What if they are totally different to you?

You may not have anticipated the donor-conceived person’s lifestyle and circumstances and they may not have anticipated yours. For example, you may not have considered each other’s sexual orientation or family set up (for example, single parent or divorced/separated family). You may not share the same social/educational/cultural background, you could have very different life experiences and lifestyles and your first language may not be the same.


How did they find out they are donor-conceived?

Some donor-conceived people may have always known about how they were conceived, some may have found out when they were older or by accident and others may never be told. The way in which the donor-conceived person found out about this could affect how they feel about being donor-conceived and also how they could feel towards you.


Previous applications for information before you remove your anonymity

Your identifying details can only be released to a person conceived from your donation who is 18 or over. However, donor-conceived people aged under 18 and their parent(s) can apply to us to find out if you have removed your anonymity.

If a donor-conceived person or parent has previously applied for this information and been told that you remained anonymous, but you later remove your anonymity, we have a web page where they can check this.

The reference number on the response letter they received when they last applied to us will be published on the web page as a way of informing them that you are now identifiable (this reference number is only known to them and us).


Sharing information on social media

Think carefully before sharing any information about this process or details about people conceived from your donation on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter – once shared it’s out of your control.


Find out more

We strongly recommend that you talk about the implications of re-registering as an identifiable donor with a professional. If you would like to do this you can:

  • ask to speak to a counsellor at the clinic where you donated
  • contact us at openingtheregister@hfea.gov.uk or on the number above for details of how to access our independent and confidential specialist support service.

Next steps

If you decide to remove your anonymity and then an adult conceived from your donation applies for identifying information about you in future, we will first try to inform you that a request has been made for your identifying details (we will not be able to provide you with any information about the person applying).

However, even if we are not able to get in touch with you, the applicant will still receive your identifying information within 20 days of their request. This is provided to them by registered post.

If you decide not to remove your anonymity, you can still update the medical and biographical non-identifying information we hold about you for people conceived from your donation and their parents to access.

Many parents and donor-conceived people have commented on how valuable and important this information is to them. If you would like to do this, please contact the clinic where you donated or, if they have closed, contact us using the email address or telephone number above.

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Publication date: 28 January 2020

Review date: 28 January 2022

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