The main objective of the Donor Conceived Register is to match pre-August 1991 donors and donor-conceived and/or donor-conceived sharing the same donor.
In August 1991 the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act came into force, This Act requires the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA; the statutory body) to keep a database of every IVF treatment carried out and a database relating to all cycles and use of donated eggs and sperm since that date. Treatments before that time are not recorded so without the DCR, donor-conceived and donor have no formal way of establishing links.
What are the chances of finding a match?
The majority of donor-conception parents who received treatment before 1991 were advised by professionals not to tell their children of the nature of their conception. Many donor-conceived people from this era therefore don’t know they’re donor-conceived individuals. Also, if they have been told or have found out, it doesn’t necessarily lead to an interest in finding out who the donor is.
Furthermore, at that time, donations happened anonymously. Most donors weren’t (made) aware that donor-conceived might have an interest to find out about the donor so may not have given it much thought. We have since learnt that many donors would be happy to be identified but it’s assumed that many donors don’t realise they can have this made known.
What does that mean for the Register?
Nobody knows how many donor-conceived know and are curious about their conception. Nobody knows how many donors are aware of the option to find out and if they are curious about their offspring. What we do know is that too many don’t know about this register or are not comfortable with registering.
We hope that people affected by donor conception will realise that the Donor Conceived Register doesn’t mean their life is going to be turned upside down in the case of a match. No one is expected to go beyond the level of contact they are comfortable with and free specialist support is offered at any given stage.
What else does the Register offer?
We have learnt that many people on the Register value the contact with others in the same situation. There’s a private forum for Registrants enabling group discussions and one-to-one messaging without sharing any identifiable details.