Will I Be a Parent if I Donate my Genetic Material?

egg donationState laws vary regarding egg, embryo or sperm donor rights and responsibilities. The best interests of the child are made the priority in any legal determination. In order to best answer this common question, let's consider examples of each situation individually.


You might be wondering what a potential recipient may think about you as an egg donor. Perhaps you are thinking that they will automatically assume you're doing it strictly for the money, right? While compensation certainly is a honest consideration and nothing to be ashamed of, your potential recipient will be informed that for most donors, it is so much more than that.

A typical egg donor is a kind, well-informed woman who wants to offer the opportunity for another person to have the the joy of pregnancy and child rearing. Egg donors generally view themselves as exactly that, donors. Often, they do not have children and some never intended to have kids and want another person to benefit from their gift. Some, of course, have children and want others to be able to have the same. Egg donors, are not giving up a child; instead, they are donating one of the building blocks that another person needs to create a child of their own.


The process of embryo donation is as another form of donor-assisted or third-party reproduction, because the donated embryo does not originate with a parent who is going to raise the child. In other words, as an embryo donor, you have embryos remaining after a successful in vitro fertilization that you choose to donate to another person or couple. This is generally done without any financial compensation, other than reimbursement of expenses incurred to store the embryos.

Whoever carries and gives birth or engages a gestational carrier to carry the child for them is the legal parent of that child, not the person or persons who donate the embryo. These types of donations are usually made after you have achieved your goal of completing your family.


As a sperm donor, you are not considered to be the legal father to the child that results from your donation. Most sperm donations are done so anonymously, through a sperm bank, also called a cryobank. Neither the donor or recipient have any intention of parenting the resulting child together.

There are, however, private sperm donations, and in those situations, there may be a degree of co-parenting planned and agreed on but mostly in known sperm donor cases, the agreement specifies your status as a donor and not parent. Another potential result is that an adult child, who is or becomes aware of how they were conceived, may have a desire to meet their donor at some point in their life. That desire, however, does not make youthe legal parent of that adult child.


While laws vary from state to state, whatever contract you sign in conjunction with your donation is legally binding. It is imperative that you seek representation from a skilled and experienced attorney who can explain all legal considerations in the jurisdiction that applies to your particular contract.

It is in your best interest to consult an attorney who is experienced in all areas of adoption legal counsel. Attorney Jennifer Fairfax is always ready to help.

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“I believe in working with each of my clients—in support of their family dynamic—to make the dreams of parenthood a reality. Whether you are single or married; or gay; a step-parent, a surrogate or intended parent or a child of adoption, it is my mission to serve as your advocate. With a dedication to the ethical and sensitive nature of each situation, I will help you understand the laws within Maryland or Washington, DC for adoption or surrogacy, and pledge to be your partner throughout the journey.” - Jennifer Fairfax