Asking for a friend. In a nutshell: My friend has been contacted by at least two different people seeking to identify their biological father, a sperm donor. My friend has enough information to make an educated guess about the identity of the sperm donor. How should he proceed?
My friend has a hobby researching his family tree. He has posted a lot of information about his family tree online. He has also done genetic testing and joined online communities where people who are genetically related can find each other.
In recent weeks, my friend has been contacted separately by two different adults (hereinafter "the inquirers") who are distantly genetically related to him. Both of these people say they were conceived using donor sperm in the 1960s and are trying to find the donor. They have mentioned the details they know about the donor: that he was a doctor at a specific hospital at the time of their conception. (For the purpose of answering this question, let's assume that the inquirers already know about the Donor Sibling Registry
With these biographical details plus some basic genetic information (the "line" of genetic inheritance through which he is related to the inquirers), my friend was able to identify a very likely candidate for the sperm donor. However, he has not told the donor siblings about his conclusion yet, and is wondering what he should do next.
The probable sperm donor is still alive, well into his 70s. My friend has no personal acquaintance with the guy, a very distant cousin of one of his parents. He knows of the guy's biographical details through public records. (As a genealogy buff, he often spends his weekends tracking down details about the far branches of his family tree.) The probable sperm donor's name and birthdate are published on the web along with the rest of my friend's family tree data, but the guy's connection with the hospital where the inquirers were conceived is not part of the published family tree.
On the one hand, the information my friend has is all a matter of public record, so he wouldn't be revealing any secrets if he gave it to the inquirers, just saving them some legwork. He does not know for certain that the guy in question is the sperm donor, but he wouldn't be claiming any certainty, just handing over the information he has; it would be the inquirers' ethical responsibility to decide what to do with that information.
On the other hand, he doesn't know whether the probable sperm donor would be OK with being found by his donor offspring, or whether this would be an unwelcome intrusion in the man's life.
Possible responses we have thought of:
- Friend does not engage with the situation at all. He does not respond to the inquirers, or sends them a polite non-answer.
- Friend tells the inquirers that there is a man in his (published) family tree who worked at the hospital in question, but doesn't tell them who. It is then the inquirers' responsibility to do the same public records research he has done in order to narrow down the guy's identity. This seems like a bad option, though, because a) it would have an air of "nyah nyah, I know but I'm not telling"; b) it would require the inquirers to re-do a lot of work he has already done; and c) it might result in the inquirers skipping the research and contacting every male in his family tree of approximately the right age, perhaps causing some consternation.
- Friend contacts the probable sperm donor and says something to the effect of, "some people who might be your donor children have gotten in touch with me; if you want to contact them, let me know and I'll forward their names and contact info." This option would give the probable donor an opportunity to decline contact with the inquirers, but it would put my friend in the middle of the situation in a mediating role for which he has no particular qualification.
- Friend hands over the information he has to the inquirers and leaves it up to them whether to contact the probable donor.
What is the best way for my friend to proceed?