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ASRM Taskforce on the Needs and Interests of Donor Conceived People and their Families

As the practice of gamete donation has increased steadily in the last 30 years, gamete donation has helped many people to become parents. Because of our prominent role in reproductive medicine, ASRM has great potential to influence practices and policies that promote the well-being of these families we helped to form.

In October, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) announced the formation of a new ASRM Taskforce on the Needs and Interests of Donor Conceived People (DCP) and their Families. This taskforce is charged with reviewing existing knowledge regarding the needs and interests of DCP and their families to help clarify and articulate ASRM’s approach and priorities in this arena.

The response to our announcement of this new taskforce was tremendous. Many professionals, within and outside ASRM, as well as interested people and organizations, reached out to convey their enthusiasm and desire to participate. We were heartened by this show of enthusiasm, as it reinforces our belief that this is an important endeavor on the part of ASRM.

The initial taskforce is composed of a small group of professionals and researchers from REI, mental health, law, nursing, and genetics as well as several members of the DCP community. The members of the taskforce were invited due to their expertise and do not represent the interests of particular organizations or groups. The taskforce will be guided by input from relevant organizations and stakeholder groups and will produce guidance for the ASRM leadership to improve medical providers’ knowledge about the needs of families from gamete donation, develop educational materials and resources for families, and outline best practices to promote the well-being of families.

The taskforce will be chaired by psychologist and ASRM Board member, Lauri Pasch, PhD. Dr. Pasch stated, “Expanding attention to the needs of donor conceived people is critical and I am thrilled to help ASRM tackle this complex issue. To be successful, we will seek out and incorporate many diverse viewpoints and perspectives into our work.”

ASRM President-Elect Paula Amato added, “We have entered a new paradigm in the practice of gamete and embryo donation which must accommodate new realities around disclosure and anonymity. The taskforce will help educate ASRM members on the emerging empirical evidence and provide guidance on how to best support positive family outcomes."

The taskforce will hold its first meeting in early 2023. In the months to come, the taskforce will be reaching out to interested ASRM members and other stakeholders to contribute and to attend specific meetings, so please be on the lookout for opportunities to be involved and share your perspective.  

Taskforce members:

Lauri Pasch, PhD (she/her) (Chair) is a Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of California San Francisco and a clinical health psychologist with 26 years of experience conducting research on psychological aspects of reproductive medicine and directing psychological services at the UCSF Center for Reproductive Health. She conducts preparatory counseling with parents and donors with the goal of fostering openness and positive family development. She has been engaged in research on improving education and support resources for families from gamete donation, with a particular focus on the needs of DCP. She is currently serving on the ASRM Board of Directors and is a member of the Advisory Committee to the ASRM Research Institute.

Cassandra Adams (she/her) is a late-discovery, transethnic, sperm donor-conceived person dedicated to raising awareness of issues surrounding 'donor' conception. Her focus includes educating parents on best practices and advancing legislative changes for reforming the fertility industry. She explores the ethics of 'donor' conception, the emotional impact and trauma of late discovery, and the complexities of ethnicity changes. As an engaged community member and leader, she connects DCP stories to the larger NPE/MPE (Not Parent Expected/Misattributed Parentage Experience) and adoption communities and addresses the nuanced experiences of separation from biological kin and the dynamics of family secrecy. She has volunteered her time and spoken with a variety of organizations and nonprofits focusing on Misattributed Parentage, Donor Conception, and Adoption. Cassandra is a mother after infertility. She helps moderate the largest online community for the DC constellation, and uses her background in psychology, healthcare, and writing to educate, provide heartfelt understanding and support, and create performance art about her experience as a DCP.

Paula Amato, MD, MCR (she/her) is a Professor in the Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Director of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility at Oregon Health & Science University. She is President Elect of the ASRM.

Andrea Mechanick Braverman, PhD (she/her) is a Clinical Professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology and Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University. She is a health psychologist with a specialty in medical health management, infertility counseling, and third-party reproduction issues. Dr. Braverman has been working with gamete donation since 1985 working with ART programs and gamete banks and is currently serving as the Director of Psychological Services for California Cryobank.

Gina Davis, MS, CGC (she/her) is a genetic counselor in the fertility field for 20 years. She has also been an IVF patient, and, following her successful cycle, she and her husband became known embryo donors. Gina Davis co-founded an embryo donation education and community platform (EM•POWER with Moxi) and owns Advocate Genetics, a genetic counseling service specializing in reproductive medicine. She recognizes the unique needs of donors, recipients, and DCP, particularly as it relates to ongoing family medical information sharing and the challenges pertaining to genetic risk management with donor conception.

Nidhi Desai, JD (she/her) is an attorney in private practice, practicing in the areas of assisted reproductive technology (ART) and adoption. She currently serves as the Director of ART and Board member for the Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproduction Attorneys (AAAA). She serves as a board member of the Chicago Coalition for Family Building, a foundation that helps individuals and couples struggling with infertility through education and financial assistance and has been appointed to the legal advisory group for Men having Babies, a not-for-profit group providing education and resources for prospective intended parents. She has been instrumental in helping to craft local and national policy surrounding ART. She has worked on drafting and passing legislation including the Illinois Gestational Surrogacy Act and most recently with updates to the Illinois Parentage Act to protect children and families born of gamete donation. Nidhi previously served as executive counsel for the Society of Assisted Reproductive Technology’s (SART), Chair of the Legal Professionals of the ASRM.

Patricia E. Hershberger, PhD, APRN, FNP-BC, FAAN (she/her) is Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Behavior and Biological Sciences at the University of Michigan School of Nursing. Building on her clinical practice as a Family Nurse Practitioner, she leads transdisciplinary research teams to advance knowledge about decision making among individuals and families who interface with reproductive technologies to create scalable digital health interventions (e.g., “TELL Tool”) to improve the health and well-being of families created via gamete donation. She is a fellow in the American Academy of Nursing and the immediate Past-Chair of the ASRM Nurses Professional Group.

Albert L Hsu, MD (he/him) is an Assistant Professor of Ob/Gyn and Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility at the University of Missouri. He has been involved in the leadership of several state medical societies, most recently serving as past president of his local Boone County Medical Society, and also on the leadership Council of the Missouri State Medical Association. He is an ASRM delegate to the American Medical Association. Albert is interested in listening and learning more about donor-conceived issues as a member of this task force.

Sigal Klipstein, MD (she/her) is a reproductive endocrinologist at InVia Fertility Specialists in Chicago, and an Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. She currently chairs the ASRM Ethics Committee and is the former chair of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology Committee on Ethics.

Ariadna Cymet Lanski, PhD (she/her) is a clinical psychologist specializing in reproductive health, from preconception, pregnancy, and postpartum adjustment to parenthood. Her services include consultation and support during various stages of fertility treatment, consultation for individuals using egg/sperm donor or gestational carriers. Additionally, Dr. Cymet Lanski conducts egg donor, gestational carrier, and Intended Parents’ assessments. While embedded at a large fertility treatment center in the Chicago area, Dr. Cymet Lanski had the opportunity to meet with many egg donors and recipients, promoting open identity gamete donation and facilitating many in-person meetings between donors and recipients. Dr. Cymet Lanski is Immediate Past Chair of the ASRM Mental Health Professional Group.

Joni S. Mantell, LCSW (she/her) had 30 years of experience as a licensed psychotherapist specializing in infertility and adoption when she learned from a DNA test that she herself was donor conceived. She is Founder and Director of Infertility and Adoption Counseling Center. She has been a longstanding advocate for parental openness and offers counseling and workshops for parents on How to Talk With Children, Tweens and Teens about Adoption and Donor Conception. She is passionate about helping recipient parents gain the confidence they need to be open with their children/families. She is a member of the Mental Health Professional Group of ASRM and on the Mental Health advisory board of Right to Know and a Mental Health Advisor for the U.S. Donor Conceived Council.

Jerrine Morris, MD, MPH, FACOG (she/her) is a board-certified OB/GYN and board-eligible REI. During fellowship at the University of California in San Francisco and as chair of the ASRM Health Disparities Special Interest Group, she explored disparities in access to fertility treatment, treatment outcomes, and utilization of third-party reproduction. Her current clinical interests include understanding the short and long-term effects of gamete and embryo donation, particularly as they apply to historically marginalized populations.

Jillian Phillips, MPH, MBA (she/her) was raised the only child of a single mother and always knew she was conceived via an anonymous sperm donor. As Vice President of Government Affairs for the U.S. Donor Conceived Council, Jillian leads efforts to develop legislation that considers the best interests of donor conceived people. Jillian has a degree in biology, Master of Public Health, and a Master of Business Administration, and she is currently pursuing a law degree.

Cathy Sakimura, Esq (she/her) has extensive experience with the legal rights of LGBTQ parents and their children across the U.S. in parentage and family law, child welfare, public benefits, and other areas of law touching on family relationships through her previous work at the National Center for Lesbian Rights. She is a co-author of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Family Law, published by Thomson Reuters and was formerly on the board of COLAGE, which unites people with one or more lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, and/or asexual parent. She is currently the Executive Director of Legal Services for Children.

Joanna Scheib, PhD (she/her) is a Professor of Psychology at the University of California Davis and Research Director at The Sperm Bank of California (TSBC), a non-profit organization in Berkeley California. With TSBC’s task force of stakeholder and community members, she helped developed the protocol for releasing donor identities to donor-conceived adults at the oldest open-identity program in the world. Her research with DCP, donors and LGBTQ+, single and heterosexual couple parents contributes to the limited knowledge about donor identifiability to donor conceived adults and helps inform how open-identity donation is practiced. She is a member of the Mental Health Professional Group of ASRM.

Jessie Losch, ASRM Staff (she/her/ella) is the Government Affairs Manager at ASRM’s Washington DC Office of Government Affairs. She has her MPH in Maternal, Child, Sexual, and Reproductive Health.

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