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Wednesday, 18 November, 1998, 19:45 GMT
Call to trace sperm donor parents
Pat and Gregory Hulse
Pat Hulse's son Gregory will never know his father
By BBC Correspondent Emma Simpson

People who were born the product of sperm or egg donors are calling for a change in the law so that they can trace their donor parents.

They argue they should have similar rights to those who have been adopted and they have the backing of the major children's societies.

But there is concern that if the anonymity of donation is lost, donors will no longer come forward.

Pat Hulse cherishes every moment with her three-year-old son, Gregory, born after a sperm donation.

But she has no plans to tell her son about his special father.

She said: "Gregory is aware that he came about from an anonymous gift, which I've explained in language he can understand, and that he will never know his special father.

"As far as I am concerned the right to anonymity was unquestionable and would remain in perpetuity. I have prepared him for that."

Christine Whipp
Christine Whipp: Wants to know her father
However, Christine Whipp, 43, would like nothing more than to find out the true identity of her father. She found out only two years ago that her genetic father was a sperm donor.

She said: "Not knowing, it is like having a missing piece of a jigsaw puzzle. If I could only know who he was it would give me some form of inner peace just to know a little more about him, to know more about myself, who I really am."

Sitting on a timebomb

Up to 2,000 couples each year take advantage of egg and sperm donation to start a family. Julia Feast, of the Children's Society, said: "There are a generation of children growing up today who do not know who they are.

"We have learned from people who have been adopted how important it is to have access to medical information so they can make informed decisions about themselves.

"These children's rights have been overlooked and we are sitting on a timebomb."

Tim Freer was guaranteed anonymity when he donated sperm last year.

Like most donors he left some non-identifying information for his offspring, but he says he would feel betrayed if his identity was ever revealed.

"The nightmare scenario for me would be in 20 years time, a child, or young adult, turning up at the door and wanting to asking questions because I am his father," he said.

"There are the moral and emotional issues that would have to be dealt with as a family and, of course, looking very cynically, there is the financial implication which fills me and my partner with quite a lot of dread and uncertainty."

The Government is looking at the issue, but there are no immediate plans to change the law. Even if there were, retrospective change seems unlikely.

Anonymity is crucial

Sperm laboratory
Sperm and egg donation has helped thousands
Fertility experts say lifting anonymity would deter potential donors, who are already in short supply.

Dr Sam Abdallah, of the Lister Fertility Clinic, said: "It will effectively deny a lot of infertile couples the chance of being parents.

"A sperm or egg donor does not create a human being, that needs womb to give it life. There is a major difference between adoption and egg and sperm donation."

That is a view shared by Pat Hulse. Unlike many parents in her position, she has been open with Gregory from the beginning about his genetic father.

She hopes that her honesty will ensure her son will never want or need to know who his father is.

For other donor children though, it may not be so simple.

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Emma Simpson: "No immediate plans to change the law"
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See also:

16 Jun 98 | Latest News
Push for sperm and egg donors
13 Jul 98 | Latest News
Internet sperm alert
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