We hope that all of our families, donors, and clients are safe. We have resumed our M-F schedule. All recipient and client visits are by appointment only, including tank returns. We will post updates to our hours here. Please call us with questions or to schedule at 510.841.1858. Telephone hours are 9:30-4:30 PST.
We appreciate your continued support. If you are able, and appreciate our one-of-a-kind, ethical and inclusive, non-profit family-building program, please consider a tax-deductible donation to ensure others can also use TSBC to build their families.
We recognize that building your family in the midst of COVID can add additional challenges. Explore our “Getting Support” page for resources that can help, including a list of mental health providers that specialize in fertility.
News & Upcoming Events
In the News:
COVID-19 update 4/1/20
As of Monday March 30, 2020, we will be reducing our office hours to Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9:30 - 4:30 PST. The State of California has extended its Shelter in Place order through May 3, 2020. We are still shipping vials as requested. However, we recommend that you seek the advice of a medical professional before starting a new insemination cycle. Please visit the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and view their COVID-19 recommendations. We are also continuing to limit personal storage clients to those with a medical need to store their sperm. No program donors are collecting samples at this time.
We are following all Social Distancing protocols to protect both our employee and clients.
COVID-19/Coronavirus update 03/16/20 5:00PM
As of 3/17/20 all individuals currently living within Contra Costa, Alameda County, Santa Clara, San Francisco, and Marin counties are ordered to shelter at their place of residence. To the extent individuals are using shared or outdoor spaces, they must at all times as reasonably possible maintain social distancing of at least six feet from any other person when they are outside their residence. All persons may leave their residences only for Essential Activities, Essential Governmental Functions, or to operate Essential Businesses, all as defined in Section 10. You can read the entire order here.
The Sperm Bank of California is licensed as a reproductive tissue bank and, as of now, we will continue to provide essential health-related reproductive tissue banking services during the Shelter in Place order. This is an extremely fluid situation and we are reacting as quickly as possible to all available information to ensure the safety, health, and well-being of our staff and recipients/clients.
We plan to continue to follow all health related recommendations in handling all sperm stored in our facility. We will provide as much information as possible as soon as we are able.
The Sperm Bank of California is committed to the health, safety and wellbeing of all in our community. We are a small nonprofit organization and appreciate your patience with delays that may be caused by this still unfolding situation.
We are taking the following steps keep the public and our employees as safe as possible during the current COVID-19 epidemic.
- As of February 19, 2020, we have started screening all donors for COVID-19 exposure and/or symptoms. At this time, any donors reporting diagnosis, symptoms or exposure to COVID-19 will not be allowed to collect a sample. This is in addition to standard health screening questions at each appointment and out of an abundance of caution as respiratory illnesses are not typically transmitted via semen.
- We are asking all visitors to our office take some simple precautions to lessen potential exposure to our staff members and others who visit our facility. If you have a high likelihood of having COVID-19 (fever and/or cough, shortness of breath, and either exposure within 6 feet of a confirmed COVID-19 patient and within 14 days of onset of symptoms, or a positive COVID-19 test result), we ask that you cancel any scheduled appointments and reschedule once you are clear of the virus. While earlier notification is appreciated, no cancellation fees will be charged for a last minute cancellation due to illness.
- We have hand sanitizer available for all who enter our facility.
- As all of our vials complete a 180 day quarantine period, all vials being sold and retrieved now were collected well before the COVID-19 outbreak.
- We are continuing our standard precautions in the handling of vials as all staff members wear gloves when handling vials and processing samples. Lab surfaces are wiped down daily and collection rooms are cleaned after each use.
If you have any questions about inseminating during the current COVID-19 epidemic we offer the following guidance and encourage you to discuss with your medical providers. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has provided the following information:
“Currently, very little is known about the impact of COVID-19 on reproduction and pregnancy. There are reports of women who have tested positive for COVID-19 delivering babies free of the disease. (1,2) This data is reassuring but must be interpreted with caution given the small numbers. Other forms of coronavirus (3, 4) have been linked to increased adverse outcomes during pregnancy, but data specific to COVID-19 is not yet available. Given the information we do have, while it would be wise for individuals with confirmed or presumed COVID-19 infection to avoid pregnancy, there appears to be no cause for alarm for those already pregnant.”
Nonetheless, out of an abundance of caution, patients who have high likelihood of having COVID-19 (fever and/or cough, shortness of breath, and either exposure within 6 feet of a confirmed COVID-19 patient and within 14 days of onset of symptoms, or a positive COVID-19 test result), including those planning to use oocyte donors, sperm donors, or gestational carriers, should strive to avoid a pregnancy. You can read the full ASRM bulletin here.”
QUEER PARENT PERSPECTIVE: What does it is mean to be an LGBTQ parent planning a family? What does it mean for donor-conceived people (as kids and as adults) to grow up in queer families? Here is a parent's perspective.
DC DAD & OPENNESS: Vince Londini: Father of three children conceived by donor conception. Vince provides an important voice not heard enough in the media. See his commentary on openness in families with donor origins.
DC ADULTS SPEAK: Podcast Dibs: Welcome to the Family. Hear what it's like to come from a family created with the assistance of a sperm donor. Interviewer Aiden Wood talks with people who have a donor (some who share her donor!) and others from the world of donor-assisted family building.
Ongoing: Maia Midwifery support groups and classes on LGBTQ conception, pregnancy, childbirth and parenting in Seattle, Berkeley and online.
Second Thursday of each month:
Study Findings: Scheib, J.E., Ruby, A. & Benward J. (2017). Who requests their sperm donor’s identity? The first ten years of information releases to adults with open-identity donors. Fertility & Sterility, 107, 483-493.
Commentary: The end of donor anonymity?
Contact among adults who share the same open-identity sperm donor: Joanna Scheib, Emily McCormick, Kaitlin Haupt, Sofia Meola, Alice Ruby & Jean Benward, American Society for Reproductive Medicine annual meeting, October 2018
Experiences of donor linking - Research and personal perspectives: Joanna Scheib, Louise Johnson, Deborah Dempsey, and a panel of donor-conceived people, recipient parents and donors, Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority (VARTA), Australia, July 2018
Facilitating contact between donors & donor-conceived people: Lauri Pasch, Joanna Scheib & Ken Daniels, American Society for Reproductive Medicine annual meeting, October 2017
Alice Ruby speaks with Mina Kim on KQED Forum along with Diane Tober, Daley Dunham & Ryan Kramer.
LezBeMommies: Alice Ruby shares "Everything you wanted to know about sperm banks," from screening donors to talking to your children about donor conception.
Interested in studies and ongoing compilations about family building with donor conception?
We just completed interviews with adults about their experiences of getting their TSBC donor's identity. Keep an eye out for the results and other studies with TSBC families.
Research studies and more happening outside TSBC.
News & Research Update
A message for you from Joanna Scheib, The Sperm Bank of California Research Director.
I hope you enjoy this update about our programs. As I wrote this, I found myself incredibly grateful to TSBC recipient and donor families, staff and Board. Whether I'm calling a parent for information about their child's birth, asking a donor-conceived adult if they want to share their experiences, or speaking with a donor from our program 25 years ago, you are an inspiring group of people who are leading the way to better practices in donor conception and healthier, happier families.
1. Research collaboration with IVF families 2. Study with parents from our Family Contact List 3. Want to connect with families who share your donor? 4. Adults with donors from the Identity-Release® Program
1. Research collaboration
We collaborated with the Family Communication Project (FCP) team, led by Dr. Martha Rueter at the University of Minnesota. The FCP team includes researchers from across the U.S. and the families who participate in FCP studies. Study findings indicate that sharing a family's origins (in this case, infertility) typically leads to child well-being. Some families, however, needed better support in how to share this information with their children. This study highlights the benefits of talking with a mental health professional before and/or after your child is born to make it easier to talk openly about your family's origin
2. Study with parents from our Family Contact List
We reached out to parents on the Family Contact List to learn about their experiences of contacting and getting to know families who share the same donor. We hoped parents would also share challenges, successes and suggestions to help guide other parents and donor-conceived adults as they join the List. The response was impressive. Within hours of emailing invitations, we received over 35 completed questionnaires!
Parents reflected on their experiences and relationships through in-depth interviews with well-known family researcher, Abbie Goldberg, PhD, and her team at Clark University. Interest in participating in the interviews was incredible. The team hoped to interview 35 respondents, actually completed 55 interviews and had to turn more people away! Findings are now available (see 3 Goldberg & Scheib articles). We are very grateful to all the parents who participated. Your enthusiasm and commitment to your families and to participating in research that can help so many families is overwhelming. Thank you!
3. Want to connect with families who share your donor?
If you have wondered about contacting other families who used the same donor, you may want to join our Family Contact List. Registering with our Family Contact List is available to parents of donor-conceived children and to donor-conceived adults (at least 18 years old). To join the list, we require that a request be made in writing by letter, email, or filling out the Family Contact List Form on our website. Simply send a written request (attention: Executive Director) that includes your child's full name (or yours, if you are a donor-conceived adult), date of birth and donor number. Please include your contact information and if you have any preferences or restrictions about contact. We'll add your name to our family registry, and when there's a match - that is, when another family who used the same donor asks to be put on the list - we'll put you in contact with each other. Please note that parents or donor-conceived adults must initiate this process themselves, as TSBC does not solicit families to register with the Family Contact List. Click here for more information.
4. Adults with donors from the Identity-Release® Program
We completed Phase 1 of our follow-up study on 10 years of information releases to adults with donors in the Identity-Release® Program. From September 1983 to August 1993, 256 families had a first born child with a donor in the Identity-Release® Program. Now 30 years later, we are seeing just over 35% of donor-conceived adults from eligible families making requests for their donor's identity. Specifically, in the first 10 years of releases, 85 adults made a request. (As of today over 200 have done so.) These adults ranged from 18-27 years, but most made their request around age 18, with over 90% doing so before the age of 22.
The process of information release requires several steps that can be completed (by the very motivated) in a few days, but on average takes adults about 1-2 months. Part of the process includes a brief interview with TSBC Executive Director, Alice Ruby. Analysis of these interviews indicated that the main driving factor behind the requests was curiosity. Adults reported wanting to know what the donor was like as a person, what he looked like and whether the donor-conceived adult shared any of his characteristics, saying things like "...to see who he is and what he does and what I got from him." They also mentioned feeling like obtaining this information could help them learn more about themselves.
One question focused on what adults hoped to gain from getting their donor's information. The majority responded that they might try to contact their donor. Interestingly, regardless of interest in donor contact, almost all adults expressed low-to-no expectations. One person put it this way, "[I] just want some questions answered, just want to know which parts of myself are from him." The majority - 76% - of the adults who made requests during the first 10 years completed the process and now have their donor's identity.
What's next? We are currently conducting follow-up interviews with these adults to learn what happens after donor information is released and to identify the extent to which the Identity-Release® Program is meeting the needs of our families. We look forward to sharing the results of this study with the TSBC community.
Seeking Study Participants and Contributors
(Requests from individuals outside TSBC)
Are you donor conceived?
Calling all donor-conceived people with LGBTQ+ parents/caregivers! @FamilyEquality and @COLAGENational need survey participants to create a new Donor Conceived Guide, by and for the community. fmeq.co/DCSurvey
TSBC's Alice Ruby and Joanna Scheib highly recommend the original Guide for all families who have a donor! Looking forward to the update.
Using or Used Fertility Technology and/or Adoption to Have Children?
Lesbian women in monogamous unions for more than 6 months with the person with whom they plan to co-parent are invited to participate. Women can either be currently undergoing fertility technology or adoption or have been within the last year. Participants will be asked to describe their emotional experiences, coping strategies, social support and satisfaction with their medical personnel and/or social workers as they engage in fertility technology and/or adoption. The questionnaires will take between 20-50 minutes to complete.
Participants are eligible to enter a drawing for one of four $25.00 raffle prizes. It is hoped that responses will help improve services provided by medical personnel, social workers and psychotherapists.
The study is an IRB-approved dissertation research project by Karolyn K. Palmer, M.A, and Natalie Porter, Ph.D., at the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University, San Francisco. Click here for more information about the study and/or to complete the survey. All responses will be anonymous upon return.