Donor children demand to be told parents’ IDs
Sophie Goodchild, Health Editor
Ministers today faced a fresh challenge over fertility reforms.
A new campaign group has accused the Government of refusing to recognise the rights of children born through sperm or egg donation.
The International Donor Offspring Alliance says children who are not told the identity of their genetic parents are at risk of trauma in later life.
It is lobbying for a new style of birth certificate that would record the names of sperm or egg donors so children can track down their parents.
Last week, Gordon Brown was forced to allow MPs a free vote on plans to allow scientists to create embryos with animal and human cells under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. This was in response to pressure from the Catholic church.
About 40,000 Britons have been born through donated sperm or eggs. The Government has already changed the law to allow children conceived after April 2005 to trace their genetic parents.
Peers have tabled an amendment to the Bill, which will be debated next month, that would mean birth certificates being marked with a symbol so children would know they were born through egg or sperm donation. But campaigners say this does not go far enough. Tom Ellis, 25, of the Offspring Alliance, said: "All we want is parity with the rest of society. Adopted children have this information from birth, but our birth certificates are the only ones that can contain a lie."
However, Infertility Network UK, a support group for couples who have had children by fertility treatment, said parents should be left to inform their offspring privately about their origin rather than having new-style birth certificates. Spokeswoman Susan Seenan said: "We polled our members and the response was an overwhelming 'no' because a certificate is very much a public document.
"We are in favour of children being told they are conceived through donor conception but putting it on birth certificates is not the way forward."
Eric Blyth, professor of social work at Huddersfield University, suggested a solution that took account of both sides. "All birth certificates should carry a statement that there may be other information relating to the individual whose birth is recorded," he said.
"If this statement were on all birth certificates it would not compromise the privacy of any individuals."
'THEY LIED TO ME... IT FELT LIKE A BETRAYAL'
TOM ELLIS learned the secret about his birth when his parents split up three and a half years ago.
His mother told him the man he called "father" was in fact infertile and his genetic parent was a sperm donor.
Mr Ellis, a 25-year-old Cambridge mathematics graduate, said he was stunned by the revelation.
He said: "They [my parents] never really intended to tell me at all. It was a big shock - a really big thing to take in.
"It's very difficult - if someone lies to you then it's hard and feels like a betrayal." Mr Ellis added: "My brother was also donor-conceived but with a different father. I'd always assumed he was my full brother." The clinic where he was conceived, the Infertility Advisory Centre in London, has since closed down and former staff have refused to help him trace his father.
But he is determined to uncover the truth and has already registered with a DNA matching website to trace any other siblings his father may have helped create.
Mr Ellis said: "It's hard because there is very little information out there but we're going to keep pressing for this."