Many people donate eggs or sperm to help couples or individuals with fertility issues realize their dreams of having a family. While many donate out of kindness, some may also do it for financial reasons, as qualifying gamete donors can receive enticing compensation for each donation. Most donors donate out of some relative combination of both altruism and the desire for financial benefit.
Regardless of the reason, prospective donors in Minnesota should be prepared for the emotional impact as well as legal issues that can arise before, during and after this transaction. In many cases, donors are unsure who they can turn to for answers.
Am I mentally prepared to be a donor?
Whatever the motivation, donors often develop many concerns. Two of the most common are:
- Questions about offspring: Recent studies show that a majority of egg and sperm donors would like to correspond or meet in person with offspring resulting from their donation. Commercial DNA testing has made this much easier, and many donors have added themselves and their genetic information to donor registries. Some donors specifically want to know how many offspring resulted from their donations.
- Anonymity: Donors are typically given a choice of remaining anonymous permanently or for a specified period, such as 18 years. They may want to leave the door open in case medical issues come to light that could impact offspring. Some choose anonymity to protect the child’s parents from feeling threatened, while others leave it up to the offspring and the parents. With the advent of genetic testing enterprises like Ancestry.com and 23andMe permanent anonymity is very likely becoming a thing of the past.
Navigating legal issues
Some potential donors are concerned about parental rights and possible financial responsibilities for children resulting from their donation. These are legitimate concerns. A donor’s parental rights and responsibilities are governed solely by the parentage law in place in the state which governs their donation. Every state’s law is different, and not all states terminate a genetic donor’s rights. Those that do require strict adherence to the terms of the governing statutes which often require donation to married couples, supervision of the donation by a licensed physician, and execution of specific consent forms. Since written donor agreements cannot exempt donors from the effect of express parentage laws, even having an attorney draft a written donor agreement may not be enough to protect the donor if the relevant parentage laws affecting donors are not complied with.
A written donor agreement addresses legal and financial concerns, including compensation for donations, treatments and any necessary travel. It is crucial to document the intent of the parties when donating your sperm or egg to other intended parents. Documentation of that intent in advance and compliance with the relevant state’s donor laws is the best way to avoid and unexpected outcomes or disputes. Experienced lawyers can not only answer your legal questions, they can also steer you to clinics with strong reputations to address medical questions. Consulting with a knowledgeable assisted reproduction attorney is always advisable to address all your concerns.