Natalie Gamble was part of the panel of speakers discussing known donation at the Progress Educational Trust’s event: ‘Known unknowns: the pros, cons and consequences of known donation’.
The event, attended by more than 200 people and covered in a feature on Woman’s Hour, discussed the rise of known egg and sperm donation, asking what the advantages, disadvantages and long-term implications for donor-conceived people are where parents conceive with an egg or sperm donor they know.
Natalie talked about UK law on donor conception and our experience of working with families conceived through known donation and co-parenting, particularly LGBT+ parents. She set out the importance of known donors and parents being clear that they have matched expectations about what the donor’s role will be, and the role of written pre-conception agreements in helping to set strong foundations.
She also discussed what can go wrong, and the cases we have been involved in which have ended up in the family court because parents and donors have disagreed further down the line about what the donor’s role should be or whether he or she should be financially responsible for the child, giving a flavour of quite how distressing and emotive these cases can be for all involved. Nonetheless, when things go well she said that known donation can be a real positive for donor-conceived children, giving them a wider family and more people who love them.
Natalie also talked about the need for the law to be more flexible to accommodate different kinds of families. At the moment, the law only allows two parents to be recorded on birth certificates and dictates quite prescriptively who the legal parents are (for example not allowing a biological father to be a legal father where he is co-parenting with a married same-sex couple). There are many cases in which the rules don’t work for the particular family dynamic and Natalie made the case for birth certificates being able to record three or four parents in co-parenting cases or for parents being able to choose who the legal parents are.
Alongside Natalie, there were a number of other speakers from various organisations:
● Dr Petra Nordqvist, researcher and senior lecturer at the Morgan Centre Manchester University
● Natasha Fox, donor-conceived person
● Nina Barnsley, director of the Donor Conception Network
● Erika Tranfield, founder of Pride Angel and mum to a daughter conceived through known donation
The video is available on the BioNews site or you can watch it below.
How we help families being created through donor conception and co-parenting
How we help with children disputes after donor conception or co-parenting
How we help with LGBT+ family disputes