From Stranger to Family or Something in Between: Donor Linking in an Era of Retrospective Access to Anonymous Sperm Donor Records in Victoria, Australia

Fiona Kelly, Deborah Dempsey, Jennifer Power, Kate Bourne, Karin Hammarberg, Louise Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


In June 2015, the state of Victoria, Australia retrospectively opened its sperm and egg donors' records, becoming only the second jurisdiction in the world to do so and the first where substantial pre-legislative records are available and stored in a central register. The new legislation gave donor-conceived adults and donors who were conceived or donated under conditions of anonymity (ie prior to 1988) the right to apply to the state's Central Register for each other's identifying information, which is released to them if the subject of the application consents. Between the introduction of the law and its further amendment in March 2017, more than 100 applications were made. Through a thematic analysis of donor-conceived adults' and donors' Statements of Reasons-a written document applicants were required to complete when they applied-the article explores applicants' motivations for applying, the information they sought, and their goals with regard to contact. The study found that most applicants were driven by curiosity and a desire for personal information about the other party. They also expressed a strong desire to meet and have an ongoing relationship with the subject of their application. The study also revealed an unanticipated desire on the part of previously anonymous donors for information about their offspring, suggesting future research could explore the emotional needs of donors in greater depth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-297
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Law, Policy and the Family
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019
Externally publishedYes

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