Spenderkinder is the organisation representing donor conceived adults in Germany – with more than 50 members aged between 18 and 49. Founded in 2009, it has been campaigning for legal amendments to protect the rights of donor conceived people ever since. Legal action by one of our members has meant doctors are no longer able to promise anonymity to donors – a big step forward. By sharing our experiences, we intend to convince parents to choose a sperm donation only after considering the effects on the children, and to disclose their origins to them as early as possible.
We use the Family Finder test of the US-company FTDNA in order to look for half siblings and donors. So far, we have had two matches (donor-child and half-siblings) and are very satisfied with the test, as it is one of the few DNA-tests that can reliably identify half siblings.
Spenderkinder’s political demands
- Donor conception and the respective genetic parents of a person should be recorded on the birth certificate, as is the case for adoption, to effectively protect donor conceived people’s right to receive information about their ancestry. As a second best solution, information about the donor should be available for donor conceived persons at a central registry. Both concepts would solve three recent problems: parents keeping the donor conception a secret, doctors destroying documentation, and nobody knowing how many children were fathered by one donor.
- Donor conceived people shall have an explicit legal claim to receive information about their ancestry. The current government coalition between the Christian Democratic Union and the Social Democrats declared in their coalition agreement of autumn 2013 that they will establish such explicit claim. However, Spenderkinder lobbies for a more encompassing regulation of donor conception, which also takes the registration of donor data and the education of parents into account.
- Donors shall be protected from child support and inheritance claims. In Germany, a sperm donor faces the risk of having to pay child support for the children he fathered if (1) a child initiates a legal action that he is the father and (2) the child does not have a legal father (any longer), e.g. because the child has challenged the fatherhood of his legal father. The law does not frame any difference between a sperm donor and a man fathering a child in a one-night -stand. Until now, such a situation has only occurred for private donations without the involvement of a doctor or a fertility clinic. However, the fact of this being possible is frequently brought up in order to justify donor anonymity and also one of the major obstacles of past sperm donors disclosing their identity to their offspring.
- Donors should not be paid, but only receive a remuneration for their time, as it is painful for many donor offspring to imagine that their genetic father´s primary motivation for the donation was financially based.
- One donor should father only 10 children. Currently, there are no legal rules in Germany on how many children may be fathered by one donor. As regards self-given professional standards, the doctors’ chambers put up the number of 10 children for negotiation – the association of reproductive medicine 15 – but neither figure can be enforced, as there is no national donor registry. Donors may donate at several clinics, and even the doctors lack knowledge if a treatment resulted in the birth of a child, as many of their patients do not get back to them.
- Intended parents shall undergo a mandatory independent counselling before treatment in which they shall be informed about the child’s right to information about its origin, as well as the challenges of having a child, which is only genetically linked to the mother. Such counselling should also provide advice to parents on how to disclose the donor conception to the child.
- Regulation for fertility clinics and doctors and fines for non-compliance shall be established. Currently, there is no regulation of the fertility industry at all. Doctors only have to comply with the Embryo Protection Act, which is targeted towards protecting embryos and not donor conceived people.