When they chose to start their family and become pregnant through artificial insemination 17 years ago, a lesbian couple pored over profiles of potential sperm donors. They ultimately selected an anonymous donor based in large part on the clean personal and family medical history he had disclosed to the clinic.
Using the donor’s sperm, the couple conceived two healthy boys, and the women – and their boys when they became old enough to understand their parentage – believed the boys’ biological father was the donor they had selected. In fact, the boys found what they believed were half-siblings by entering the donor number of the man whose sperm their parents had used.
It was only after the group of donor-conceived children took DNA tests that the couple learned their sons were not biologically related to their intended donor or to the children they thought were half-siblings. Instead, the boys’ father was an entirely different anonymous sperm donor, one whose health history and family medical record were such that the women claimed they would never have intentionally selected him all those years ago.
It is estimated that up to 60,000 children are born through artificial insemination every year. There are no readily available statistics about how frequently errors or mistakes occur. The reality is that this type of unwelcome surprise is more likely to come to light now, simply because of the increased availability and popularity of do-it-yourself home DNA testing kits.
Unfortunately, there is little regulation of sperm banks today. That may be changing, as children conceived through sperm donor mix-ups, now themselves grown adults, are lobbying for greater government oversight and stricter controls at sperm donation facilities and fertility clinics.
While intended parents must trust the clinics and services they use, they can protect their rights and interests through well-crafted legal agreements. To learn more about how The Surrogacy Law Center can help, contact us today!