Satisfaction with known open identity or unknown sperm donors Reports from lesbian mothers of 17 year old adolescents

A mixed-method study of 129 lesbian mothers found that most were satisfied with their choice 18 years previously of a known, open-identity, or unknown sperm donor.


Nanette Gartrell, M.D., Henny Bos, Ph.D., Naomi G Goldberg, M.P.P., Amalia Deck, M.S.N., Loes van Rijn-van Gelderen, Ph.D.

Volume 103, Issue 1, Pages 242-248



To assess whether lesbian mothers of 17-year-old adolescents conceived through donor insemination are satisfied with their choice of a known, open-identity, or unknown sperm donor and whether the mothers’ satisfaction is associated with psychological health problems in the index adolescent offspring.


Mixed-method study.


Not applicable.


One hundred twenty-nine lesbian mothers and 77 index offspring.


Semistructured interviews with the mothers conducted by telephone and the State-Trait Personality Inventory (STPI) completed online by the adolescent offspring.

Main Outcome Measure(s):

Satisfaction with the type of sperm donor selected was assessed through multiple choice questions, and adolescent psychological health problems by the STPI. The reasons for the mothers’ (dis)satisfaction were evaluated through a thematic analysis of transcribed interviews.


Overall, 77.5% of mothers were satisfied with the type of donor chosen. There were no significant differences between birth mothers and comothers on (dis)satisfaction. In comparing satisfied with dissatisfied birth mothers by donor type, the only significant differences were that those selecting open-identity donors were more satisfied than dissatisfied and that those using unknown donors were more dissatisfied than satisfied; (dis)satisfaction with donor type was unrelated to offspring psychological health problems. Qualitative analyses revealed six themes concerning all mothers’ reasons for (dis)satisfaction.


Donor access and custody concerns were the primary themes mentioned by lesbian mothers regarding their (dis)satisfaction with the type of sperm donor they had selected.

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