Monday, September 27, 2010

Best donor/sibling searching tools

By popular demand, I am updating/re-evaluating an old post on the best research tools I've found to search for ones donor and half-siblings.  I've broken the list down into several categories: General (Donors/Half-siblings), Donor w/ non-identifying information, and Donor w/out non-identifying information.  For each category I have listed my favorite resources and how to use them/what you need (or how they can be used for our purposes).

General (Donors & Half-siblings):

Registries -- Most useful for younger offspring with donor numbers from sperm banks.
  1. Donor Sibling Registry
    • Pro: Largest registry with most donor and offspring matches
    • Con: $50/year registration fee to post information, see others information, read messages, and contact other members
  2. AmFOR Donor Offspring Registry
    • Pro: Free registry with visible email/contact information of all members
    • Con: Difficult to search (use COMMAND-F = "Find" in browser to search donor number/sperm bank/etc) and smaller than DSR

DNA Databases -- Most useful for older offspring who may or may not have a donor number.
  1. UKDonorLink (MALE and FEMALE) -- autosomal DNA
    • Pro: Connects half-siblings/donors of offspring born pre-1991 in the United Kingdom
    • Con: Only matches with 99% probability are informed, meaning many true matches never know they have a sibling
  2. CaBRI Donor Gamete Archive (MALE and FEMALE) -- X/Y chromosome DNA
    • Pro: Connects half-siblings/donors for any offspring using X and Y chromosome testing
    • Con: Only can connect siblings of the same sex, and females must have mother tested
  3. YSearch: Y-DNA Public Database (MALE only) -- Y chromosome DNA
    • Pro: Can identify paternal genetic surname, giving male offspring an idea as to their biological father's possible last name
    • Con: Because of infidelity/secret adoption/donor-conception in direct line, genetic surname may not be same as biological father's surname


Donors with significant non-identifying information:

If university and/or graduation year is known...
  1. Yearbooks -- E-Yearbook ($5/month; $20/year), University Libraries (best bet if you can get to the University as there is often many other resources as well), or Ebay ($ variable)
    • Pro: Provides a fairly complete list of all men who fit that criteria -- narrow down from here; Seniors often have extra information listed such as hometown, major, Clubs/Interests, etc
    • Con: Appearance is not a good indicator of relatedness and should not be relied on solely for identification; Some yearbooks can be very hard to come by or are extremely expensive (i.e. if there was an important event --- ex: Kent State University's 1971 yearbook is extremely rare and very coveted by collectors for it's memorial to the May 4th shootings)
  2. Alumni Lists/Associations -- University Alumni Associations,,
    • Pro: If yearbook is unavailable, can provide an incomplete list of men who attended that university during that year/years
    • Con: Usually only a very small minority of alumni are active in associations or members of online communities like; Many university alumni associations' information is only available to alumni

If birthday is known...
  1. ($) -- Public Records Index can be searched for individuals born on a certain date, works best if a location where the donor lived in the during the 1980s/1990s is known
    • Pro: Can be used in conjunction with Yearbooks to find men listed in the yearbook who are born that date
    • Con: Donors born post-1970 are less likely (or not at all) going to be listed; Not all public records have birthdays; Subscriptions are quite costly
  2. Free Birthday Database -- Names of men found in yearbooks/alumni lists can be searched to find their birthday (works best for less common names)
    • Pro: No registration or cost involved
    • Con: Not all names retrieve records

If city of residence and time/years of donation is known...
  1. ($) -- Public Records Index can be searched for a specific location, identifying individuals who lived in a city/town during mid-to-late 1980s to the early-to-mid 1990s
    • Pro: Helpful when used in conjunction with university yearbooks and/or birthdays
    • Con: Cost; Not exhaustive (of individuals and years); Only older donors
  2. -- Can be useful for donors who likely still reside in the same city/town today, Used in conjunction with yearbooks/alumni lists
    • Pro: The obvious - Address/Phone number; Age group can help narrow down names
    • Con: Need a name and current location; Common names could prove to return huge numbers of individuals
If a physical description is known...
  1. MySpace -- Recently an offspring found her donor by entering his physical traits, occupation, and location into MySpace
    • Pro: It obviously can work, however offspring typically need several/many non-identifying characteristics to search with
    • Con: How many adults over the age of 30 are on MySpace and not a pedophile??
  2. Dating websites ($) -- I'm not advocating this choice, but I suppose it could work........
    • Pro: Men put way too much personal/physical information about themselves online when they're trying to find a date...the same information that they would put in a donor profile (physical characteristics, occupation, hobbies, location, etc)
    • Con: It's really creepy....and expensive

    If other random tidbits about his life are known...

    1. EMAIL ME -- I might know of a resource/database that might be just want you need!


    Donors with no significant non-identifying information:

    Genetic trait calculators --- Identify and exclude traits of your donor based on you and your mom's traits
    1. ABO Blood Type Test -- ABO Blood type paternity test that either excludes or doesn't exclude an "alleged father" based on the blood types of child, mom, and alleged father
      • Pro: Can sometimes at least exclude one possible blood type for the donor (Blood Type Chart)
      • Con: Need to have offspring and mother blood type
    2. Eye Color Test -- An eye color paternity test that assumes that lighter-eyed parents cannot have darker-eyed children
      • Pro: Can give an idea as to the possibilities of donor's eye color
      • Con: Need to go through each eye color for the alleged father and see which are excluded and not excluded (time consuming)
    3. Mendelian Trait Fact Sheet -- Information about Mendelian inheritance and a list of common traits
      • Pro: Can be helpful to compare with possible half-siblings
      • Con: If you do not have a picture of the donor or have a potential donor in mind many of these cannot be determined
    4. Single Gene Disorders - Mostly congenital disorders that are inherited either dominantly or recessively from a single gene (not mutations)
      • Pro: Very useful if offspring has inherited a genetic disorder and wants to determine if it came from the donor or not
      • Con: Very few offspring suffer from these conditions
    5. List of Mendelian Traits (Cryokid Post)
      • Pro: Old post giving examples of Mendelian traits and how they can help identify traits or eliminate possible donors; Also can be used to compare with possible half-siblings
      • Con: If you don't have a picture or have a potential donor in mind many of these cannot be determined

    This is the short list of resources.  Of course there are others, and depending on each individual situation, some may be better suited than others.  If you have any questions or want me to do a consultation to determine the best route and what resources may be helpful, please email me.  

    A note for younger offspring:

    For offspring who have extensive donor profiles (those born typically post-1990), I have worked with several offspring and recipient mothers to identify resources both publicly available and those through paid subscriptions that have shown to be successful in narrowing down the search, often based on a specific piece of information given in the donor profile that is helpful in identifying him.  

    Such bits of information could be:
    • Age/year of death of a parent/grandparent/sibling --- if cause of death is known that is even better!
    • Age of parents/grandparents/siblings at time of donation
    • Marital status
    • Number of children (year of birth and sex of all children is even better)
    • Occupation
    • Hobbies
    • Personal essays

        1 comment:

        Anonymous said...


        Liz just contacted her second "possible half-sibling" and was shot down. Although she won't admit defeat (I encouraged her to make this contact), I know she is feeling bad and doesn't want me to know it. We can't even get beyond initial contact so that a DNA can be performed. Of course her donor is from CLI and you are spot on about this group (RE: CLI, Fairfax and Genetics IVF, regarding not providing info).

        Fate is very evident in our instance. We've been searching not only for her donor but any half siblings since 2006 and even though we thought God had shined his light upon us in 2008 when we thought He had shown us 3 half-siblings, we have learned in the last 2 years not to trust in either fate or God.

        I would love to find someone to prove us wrong about God and fate.

        Tonight I'm sad for my daughter and I'm angry with myself for believing in the medical community that I feel bought our trust.