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Sperm Donor Dads – Finding the Real Father


Canadian film maker Barry Stevens made a documentary, My Sperm Donor Dad, following his search for his ‘real’ father. At the age of 18 he discovered he’d been conceived through artificial insemination. For him, only a DNA paternity test could prove who his biological father was.

Why Bother With a DNA paternity test?

Some might wonder why you would even bother with a DNA paternity test to find your ‘real’ father, when the only part that father played in your upbringing was a sperm donation. But for Barry, he had a persistent feeling that he needed to know. The Canadian was in fact conceived in London, and after a lot of research and a DNA test, he discovered an English and Jewish half brother. His half-brother’s parents asked that the donor dad was Jewish, so Barry made the enormous discovery that he was half Jewish. Such revelations show without doubt that using DNA to establish paternity and discovering who your biological father is can be incredibly important for a person’s sense of identity.

Impact on Identity

The Department of Psychology at the University of Surrey has investigated the impact on identity experienced by adults conceived by donor insemination. Many search out their biological fathers and request a test to prove who they are. Participants in the study by the university who had not had a DNA paternity test or confirmation of their biological father, reported mistrust within their family, lack of genetic continuity and frustration in being thwarted in the search for their biological fathers. The university report concluded that psychotherapists need to be aware of ‘identity issues’ with donor offspring.

Assurance with a DNA Paternity Test

If a donor offspring doesn’t have the assurance of knowing who their biological father is from a DNA paternity test, there can be some very obvious identity issues. One example is a girl who always wondered why she was so petite while her mother and grandma had large frames. Things such as the colour of hair or eyes can jar, and make some children feel like misfits in their own family. Discovering the truth through DNA test can be a way of everything suddenly making sense. It isn’t always that straightforward however. Many donor children are eager to meet their biological fathers and it is only recently that legislation was passed that means donors are no longer anonymous.

Final Proof

Being unable to locate a biological father can be crushing, and many do detective work to find out who they are. The internet is a great tool for tracing people and there are many online communities available for offspring searching for their donor dads. Once found, a DNA paternity test is the final proof for those searching to complete their sense of identity.

Further Related Reading

It’s clear that the agony suffered by the infertile is huge, but many did not anticipate the agony of the identity crisis that awaited children created through donor conception. New laws mean that post-2005 sperm donors can no longer be anonymous, but what about those before 2005? Find out more.