Sunday 07 August 2022

Dutch woman traces anonymous sperm donor father via dna banks

A Dutch woman has managed to trace her donor father using commercial dna banks in the US, the Volkskrant reports on Tuesday.

Emi Stikkelman, 32, sent three dna samples to dna banks, where a match was found with an Australian woman. Together with family history researcher Els Leijs, she was able to put together a family tree and finally identify her biological father.

Normal dna banks use 20 key markers but commercial agencies can use thousands, allowing them to cast a much wider net of potential relatives, the paper said.

Leijs uses commercial data banks such as  Family Tree, Ancestry and 23andMe which are particularly popular in the US and have been set up to allow people to trace their heritage. ‘Almost all Americans have roots outside the US, in Europe and Africa,’ she said.

Stikkelman and five other donor children have now set up a specialist agency Donor Detectives to help people find their biological father.

‘Donors should register, because sooner or later we will find them, Stikkelman told the paper. ‘It is your right to know where you come from.’

Sperm donors could remain anonymous in the Netherlands up to 2004 and donor children who attempt to trace their father are not helped by the relevant authorities. However, donors who don’t mind being traced can register their interest in their children.’

Stikkelman said that her foundation has already sent 70 samples to dna agencies from people trying to trace their father. ‘There is a group who will do whatever it takes to trace their donor father,’ she said.

Those samples have already led to three people finding sisters, Leijs told the paper.

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