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Published: Saturday, 4/15/2006

Donor kids need access

SOCIETY is beginning to realize that there is an unintended and unwelcome consequence to sperm donation: Half-siblings could unknowingly fall in love with each other, date, marry, and have children of their own. To keep that from happening, donor-conceived children need to know as much as they can about their background.

Some 40,000 donor-conceived babies are born each year. With that many births, it is only proper that they later have access to records that can tell them who their half-siblings are.

Sperm donation is a procedure that has been around long enough that many of the first donor-conceived children are becoming adults. Great Britain has laws giving these children the right to know who their biological fathers are.

The United States should do at least as much and grant donor-conceived children that same right. These children deserve details about the other side of their biological families, and if they need help obtaining that information, they should get it.

Fortunately, there already has been some effort to provide such data to the children. An online registry that began as a small operation six years ago now has 8,000 members worldwide.

As a matter of fact, two college students, Elizabeth Reynolds, 20, of Westerville, Ohio, and Kelli Dail, 21, of Fort Collins, Colo., learned through the registry at the Web site, www.donorsiblingregistry.com, that they are half sisters. Interestingly, they are among the 2,000 people who have used it to identify biological relatives.

Thanks to science, people who once never could have children are now able to do so. While that is a good thing, it is only right and fair to give the children access to records about their genetic history.

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