Patient Resources

Understanding Donor Arrangements

There are a few types of donor arrangements when you use third-party reproduction technologies, which include known, anonymous, semi-open, or open arrangements. It is important to keep in mind that the arrangement you choose will impact your life as well as your future child, the donor, and the donor’s children. Your arrangement options will depend on what is available to you from the fertility clinic. At NCCRM, the recipient and donor will remain anonymous unless a known donor is involved.

Known Donors

A known donor is someone you know personally, whether it be a relative, friend, or acquaintance. This person is not found through a fertility clinic. The following include some of the advantages and disadvantages of a known donor:


When a known donor is involved, you know more about their background, so you can rest assured knowing the genetics your future child will receive. When the donor is a family member, the intended parent can have a genetic connection to the child. For example, a male may offer to be a sperm donor for his brother and his female partner. While most donors do not keep in contact with the family, known donors typically remain in contact with the family since they knew each other beforehand. The conceived child may also have a relationship with the donor as they grow older, knowing where their genetic heritage came from. 


While a known donor relationship can bring some people closer together, it may also push people apart. The donor may feel pressured to agree due to the relationship with the other person. There is also a potential for conflict on parenting decisions after the child is born, even though the donor has given up parental rights. If fertility treatments are unsuccessful, the donor may feel as if they are responsible. Some family donor pairs are ethical or medical issues; for example, a brother should not be a sperm down for his sister if she is using her own eggs, because it can appear as if an incestuous relationship took place and may increase the risk of congenital birth diseases. 

Anonymous Donors

An anonymous donor’s personal details are not revealed, so the intended parents and donor-conceived child are unable to contact the donor, and vice versa. The advantages and disadvantages can include the following:


Anonymous donors face less risk; they often fear that the child will try to enter their lives and ask them to become a parental figure, which is typically not what they intended when helping someone else create a family. There is also less risk for the intended parents, as they may worry that the child could contact the donor and want them to be their parent or that the donor will attempt to make parental decisions for the child.


Children that are conceived with the help of a donor often wonder about their genetic origins, and anonymous donors sometimes wonder about the family they helped create. Parents may wish to have some sort of connection with the person who helped them create a family as well. It is also possible that DNA services will reveal genetic information on whether or not a child is genetically related to their parents, if the donor-conception was kept a secret from the child. 

Choosing to create a family via third-party reproduction is an emotional, complicated decision. Consider what type of donor relationship your family can best benefit from. 


The North Carolina Center for Reproductive Medicine/Talbert Fertility Institute is the premiere center for reproductive health in North Carolina and the East Coast. Our team specializes in fertility testing, diagnosis, and treatment of infertility conditions. We’re experts in IVF, Tubal Ligation Reversal, Male Infertility, Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), Gestation Surrogacy, Family Balancing, and more. Contact us today.

close slider

    Your Name (required)

    Your Email (required)

    Phone Number (required)

    Your Message