A man who once longed to meet the sperm donor who helped his mother become pregnant has paused his quest after considering the ethical concerns.
Liam Renouf, 28, from Jersey, was conceived by a single mother who used a sperm donor, and he is among a number of people who are searching for their long-lost relatives on a new ITV documentary Born From the Same Stranger.
In a whirlwind episode, the 28-year-old found a likely match for his sperm donor, but after further consideration, he realised his desire to meet him was no longer as strong as it once was.
As a child, Liam was determined to meet his sperm donor, and he would even write out Father’s Day cards to his ‘imaginary father’ each year.
Now, Liam’s thoughts on the matter have switched, as he explained on tonight’s episode: ‘The feelings are complicated, that thing that I maybe wanted as a child, I don’t want or need anymore.’
‘I always felt so loved,’ Liam said on the show. But while he entirely accepts his roots, he initially embarked upon a mission to find details about his sperm donor.
The four-part series follows a UK law change that took effect in 2023, which ended donor anonymity. It means that anyone conceived by donation after 2005 can apply to find out more details about their identity as soon as they turn 18.
At 36 years old, Liam’s mother was ‘desperate’ to have a child, and given that she was single, she opted to use a sperm donor.
‘I just asked the clinic for someone who was kind and with a sense of humour,’ Liam’s mother Julie said.
While the 28-year-old admires his mother’s decision, he always longed to know the donor’s identity growing up.
‘When I was younger I did imagine meeting him quite a lot, and obviously that was more about meeting a dad and imagining the kind of feelings I would feel,’ Liam said.
‘Recently I found a stockpile of Father’s Day cards I had written as a child to this imaginary dad, I remember hiding them away to give to him one day.’
And that’s why he decided to join the ITV show in a bid to locate information about his sperm donor.
Despite Liam’s donor being absent on all DNA databases, there was still a way to find him through more distant relatives who had matched with Liam.
He employed the help of a specialist genetic analyst, who built a family tree to map out Liam’s ancestry.
The analyst revealed that because his mother’s side of the family is all from one location, it was possible to differentiate between DNA matches.
After mapping out a family tree, the analyst found a DNA connection to a couple on Liam’s sperm donor’s side who were likely to be his biological grandparents.
The couple had two sons, and after a quick search on Facebook, Liam located his sperm donor.
The 28-year-old knew which man was his donor out of the two brothers because only one had curly hair, the hair type of his sperm donor.
‘It’s amazing, I never thought I’d have this ever in my life, and I’m just really thankful,’ he said.
Despite being able to see his sperm donor’s face for the first time, Liam felt unsettled.
‘I do feel a bit of empathy towards him… maybe he never wanted me to have his name, [it] brings up an ethical dilemma,’ he said.
Liam continued: ‘He was a sperm donor… he signed up to this agreement that would be anonymous.’
An intense dilemma quickly materialised, and Liam questioned whether contacting his donor was the correct route.
After considering the options, Liam concluded: ‘My donor was someone who did something amazing for my mum, but he donated under the guide of anonymity, if he didn’t want to be found, that’s not fair,’ he said.
‘The feelings are complicated, that thing that I maybe wanted as a child, I don’t want or need anymore.’
Meanwhile, Liam wanted to find out if he might have any half-siblings, so he checked for matches via a commerical DNA website.
The 28-year-old got more than he bargained for, and his tests revealed that he has four half-siblings who share the same sperm donor – Beth, 25, Charlie, 28, and Mae, 27, and one who wishes to remain anonymous.
The group met up on the show and have since developed a relationship with one another.
While Liam has decided to hit pause on the quest of meeting his sperm donor, he now has three half-siblings delighted at the thought of getting to know their half-brother.