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Anonymous Sperm Donation

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Nonetheless, Pihera, a health educator who founded the company 10 years ago, says that she counsels clients to tell children as soon as possible about the circumstances of their birth. Additionally, she urges parents to share the information on donor background that she provides. That information, "doesn't answer a whole lot of big, deep questions, but it does include things like favorite food, favorite color, shoe size, and so on."

In California, law protects donors, says Mills. The California law clearly states that "if a man provides sperm to a licensed medical facility then in law that man is not the natural father of the child and has no legal rights or responsibilities in regard to the child."

Mills says her company, like many sperm banks in California, provides copious information to clients. Each client receives a detailed donor biography "including 17 pages of information that covers hobbies, likes, dislikes, medical history, a description of parents and siblings, and a little bit about the personality."

While the mother can get that information, she is not given access to the actual donor identity, but the "adult child has a right to the identity information, and if it is requested by the child it is released," says Mills.

But many adults conceived by artificial insemination don't have that right, says Cordray. That, he says, is plain wrong.

"In Australia, New Zealand, Austria, and Sweden the law requires that donors be strictly identifiable. They won't allow anonymous donors," says Cordray.

The U.S. should enact a similar law, he says.

"One of the prime reasons parents choose not to tell children [about donor insemination] is the belief that telling will cause the child pain. It will present a mystery that can't be solved," he says. "But the pain of not knowing one's identity is far worse."

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