The Known Donor Project

Our study seeks to fill a gap in knowledge about lesbian, bisexual, and queer families who use known donors (friends, family members, acquaintances) to help them conceive.  While there is a growing body of research in the area of lesbian families (see Abbie Goldberg) there has not been much attention to those families who use known donors and/or the challenges and advantages of this approach. 

Our study consists of several parts.  The first part, which launched in February of 2015, is a pilot study.  In this study, we will interview known donor family members to learn about their experiences and their thoughts and feelings about these experiences.  Some interviews will be done individually and others will be done in dyads or triads to capture the relationships between adults in a known donor family.  We hope to use these interviews to form some theories about how and why people choose known donors, what the development of such families might look like, and the ways in which the adults in known donor families negotiate their relationships.  We imagine there will be a many other things we will learn in these interviews.

The second phase of our study will be a longitudinal (over time) study of a selected group of known donor and sperm bank donor families. We hope to follow these families from pre-conception through the children turning 20 years old.  This study will be mixed methods, including both interviews and numerical measures.  We have not fully designed this study because we want our pilot data to lead us to questions for our longitudinal design. 

The results of our work will be submitted for publication in peer reviewed academic journals, presented at conferences, and potentially written into a book. 

We believe it is vitally important that the families in our study remain at the heart of our work.  We promise to seek their guidance, respect their participation and continue to stay in touch about how and when the work is disseminated. 


Read our latest updates here.