Have you just found out you are donor conceived? Or perhaps you have known for some time? We’ve outlined below some of the steps you can take to find out more about the services and support available to you.
I am donor conceived
How do you feel?
What it means to be donor conceived can vary depending on your experience. The fact of your conception may simply be an integral fact of your family story that you have always known and don’t think much about. Or it may have been a recent revelation that has left you feeling lost and faced with a multitude of questions. Or perhaps you are somewhere in between. If you are beginning to explore what being donor conceived means for you it is important that you have support and feel able to talk openly about your feelings as they arise, questions you may have and your experiences. You might like to seek out family or friends that you can trust, or alternatively you can access professional support in the form of therapy or counselling. The APS (Australian Psychology Society) and ACA (Australian Counselling Association) websites can help you find a psychologist or counsellor in your area or you might like to seek a referral through your GP.
VARTA – Finding out you were donor conceived
Finding out more?
How much do you know about how you were conceived? Who is the donor? Do you have half siblings?
Would you like to know more?
Depending on where and when you conceived your ability to do so will vary.
When were you conceived?
Where were you conceived (in Australia? overseas? at a clinic?)
The answers to those questions will provide direction as to who you should contact for more information.
If you were conceived at a clinic in:
|From 29 June 2015, regardless of when you were born, if you are 18 years of age (or earlier if a counsellor considers you to be sufficiently mature), you can apply to the Victorian Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages (BDM) to access information held on the central and voluntary registers about your donor and any donor siblings you may have. Your parent(s) can also apply on your behalf at any time. Consent from the other person may be required for the release of identifying information. See also www.varta.org.au|
|NSW||If you were conceived before 1st January 2010 you can apply to the NSW Voluntary Register. People conceived after this date can apply to the NSW Central Register when they are 18 years or older. People involved in donor treatment at the Royal Hospital for Women at Randwick (formerly at Paddington) from 1978, can contact sesiahs.health.nsw.gov.au. Otherwise, the clinic where you were conceived.|
|ACT||Contact the clinic where you were conceived.|
|NT||Contact the clinic where you were conceived.|
|QLD||Contact the clinic where you were conceived.|
|SA||Contact the clinic where you were conceived. More information regarding the SA legislation is available here: http://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/public+content/sa+health+internet/about+us/legislation/assisted+reproductive+treatment+legislation|
|TAS||Contact the clinic where you were conceived.|
The West Australian Reproductive Technology Council maintains a Voluntary Register. Central Records have been collected since 08/04/2003. People involved in donor treatment before this date can also apply to the Voluntary Register. For further information you can contact the West Australian Reproductive Technology Council
If you don’t know where you were conceived or the clinic you were conceived at has closed finding out information is more difficult but there are avenues available to you, you can contact us via our email for advice and also please see the following section ‘What else can I do?’
Health law Central – provides an overview of your legal rights to access information according to your jurisdiction.
Connecting with other donor conceived people
Talking to other people who know exactly what it’s like to be donor conceived can be immensely beneficial and empowering, knowing that others experience the same thoughts and feelings can help to normalise your own experiences. You can also access a vast collective knowledge bank of peer support providing advice (for example) on how to access information and records related to your conception and how to initiate discussions with your friends and family.
There are currently two Australian support groups organised for and by donor conceived people, see our Support Groups page for more information.
We also run an online support group on Facebook. If you would like more information on joining the group please contact us on our email: email@example.com
PCVAI (People Conceived via Artificial Insemination) – a worldwide online support group.
DCSG (Donor Conception Support Group) – Australian based
DSR (Donor Sibling Registry) – US based worldwide registry
What else can I do?
Inadvertent or deliberately destroyed and misplaced records mean that many donor conceived people will never be able to access information about their biological parents and siblings. DNA testing for genealogical research is becoming an increasingly popular way of circumventing the problem of missing or redacted records to connect with biological family members for these individuals.
There are currently two main providers of DNA testing services:
FTDNA (Family Tree DNA)
Damian Adams presented a paper on the benefits and process of DNA testing at our 2015 conference, his presentation can be on our publications page downloaded here.
Whilst there has been a number of improvements in some jurisdictions with regards to implementing policies and legislation providing services for donor conceived people and facilitating the release of information, we still have a long way to go to achieve better outcomes for donor conceived people, wherever and whenever they were conceived. The more that clinics, government and the public hear from donor conceived people and their needs for information and support the more likely it is that reform will be realised. We have a number of active advocacy groups please contact us via email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to be involved.