Adult offspring of lesbian parents: how do they relate to their sperm donors?

Adult donor insemination offspring of lesbian-identified parents were surveyed on donor relationships and analyzed by donor type (unknown or known); and the off- spring with known donors mainly expressed positive feelings about them.

VOLUME 114, ISSUE 4, P879-887


Audrey S. Koh, M.D., Gabriël van Beusekom, Ph.D., Nanette K. Gartrell, M.D., Henny Bos, Ph.D.



To study how adult offspring in planned lesbian-parent families relate to their unknown or known donors.


Qualitative analyses of the sixth wave of online surveys from a longitudinal study of adult offspring in planned lesbian families, enrolled at conception.


Community-based United States national study.


The 76 participants were 25-year-old donor insemination (DI) offspring whose lesbian parent(s) enrolled in a prospective longitudinal study when these offspring were conceived.



Main Outcome Measure(s)

Offspring were asked about donor type, feelings about permanently unknown donor, satisfaction with and role of known donor, whether relationship with known donor was ongoing, and age of meeting open-identity donor.


This cohort (n = 76) of DI offspring with lesbian parents was among the first generation to reach adulthood. Thirty participants had permanently unknown donors and most participants felt comfortable about not knowing them. Sixteen participants had open-identity donors they had not met. Thirty had currently known donors—met in childhood (n = 22) or after open-identity donor disclosure (n = 8)—of whom two thirds had ongoing relationships with donors, half considered their donors as acquaintances, and nearly half had good feelings about their relationship, although a minority expressed conflicted feelings.


This study of adult DI offspring from planned lesbian families shows that those who knew their donors mainly felt positively about these relationships. Qualitative analyses offered insight into offspring-donor relationships, whose numbers are increasing due to historical and demographic trends.

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