Macquarie University
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A study on the effects of donor conception, secrecy and anonymity, according to donor-conceived adults

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posted on 2022-03-28, 11:15 authored by Caitlin Mary Macmillan
Donor conception has increasingly become an accepted method to conceive a child. Despite gaining popularity, little attention has been given to the long-term psychosocial implications of the clandestine practice. Previous research has relied on parent reports, young samples, or has other methodological limitations that restrict the generalisability of findings. This study established the effects of donor conception, secrecy and anonymity by surveying 72 donor-conceived adults (9 male, 53 female, 9 unspecified) online. The study first investigated the demographic characteristics of the sample, circumstances of disclosure, and relationships with parents. This study then investigated what motivated donor-conceived people to seek information about, and contact with, their donor. Finally, quality of life, identity, genealogical bewilderment, feelings towards donor conception, and feelings towards information and disclosure, were investigated, including how demographic characteristics, circumstances around disclosure, and relationships impacted each using a series of logistic regressions. The majority of donor-conceived people had sought information about their donor, while a smaller group had sought contact. The most common motivation for doing to was to obtain an accurate medical history. This was particularly important among those who had known of their conception longer. Meanwhile, having a positive relationship with the biological parent was associated with less genealogical bewilderment and positive feelings towards donor conception, while coming from anon-co-parented household was associated with feeling more positively towards disclosure and access to information. The study informs the direction of future research, which can extend the existing findings and increase reliability and generalisability, particularly among males, and persons born from egg and embryo donation. In addition, longitudinal research with donor-conceived people over the course of their lifespan will contribute to understanding the effects at various stages of development.


Alternative Title

Effects of donor conception, secrecy and anonymity.


Running title: Effects of donor conception, secrecy and anonymity. Empirical thesis. Bibliography: pages 91-116

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Department of Health Systems and Populations

Department, Centre or School

Department of Health Systems and Populations

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Sonia Allan

Additional Supervisor 1

Melissa Johnstone


Copyright Caitlin Mary Macmillan 2016. Copyright disclaimer:




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