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Same-Donor-Offspring: Sharing “Origins” in Sperm Donor Conception (United Kingdom, France)

Anaïs Martin

Research Framework: New figures are emerging within the connections created by donor conception: same-donor-offspring.

Objectives: Based on an anthropological study with sperm donor conceived adults in the United Kingdom and France, the article analyzes the distinctions that they establish between same-donor-offspring, siblings and the donor’s children in order to better understand what is involved in sharing “origins” when people have been conceived using the same donor.

Methodology: The article draws on an empirical study through in-depth semi-directive interviews conducted between October 2017 and December 2019 with 17 sperm donor conceived adults in the United Kingdom and in France.

Results: In the light of the relationships with siblings, the connections between same-donor offspring appear first as a paradoxical bodily bond that is materialized by a sharing of genes between strangers. The distinctions between children of the donor and donor conceived people then emphasize that, beyond genetics, it is the donation that specifies the links between same-donor-offspring. More than a progenitor, they share the circumstances of their conception, from which arise a shared narrative and common experiences that specify their bond. Finally, although the concrete relationships that are formed are characterized by their flexibility and their elective dimension, they nonetheless give rise to new norms and hierarchies.

Conclusions: The study of the connections between same-donor-offspring suggests the constitution of a new relational category at the edges of kinship.

Contribution: The article addresses donor conception through the collateral connections it produces. It contributes to the reflection on the content of the relations created by “origins”.