Monday, February 27, 2006

Genealogy and Anonymous Donors

On Saturday night we watched an amazing special on PBS focusing on genealogy and African-Americans. And once again my thoughts turned to my children and what their desires will be in this area and obviously the fact that half of their past is cut off to them. As I have stated in past blogs the personal and family history we have from the cryobank is quite rich compared to others out there. In my recent post I talk about grafted family trees and that is one avenue how this topic will be addressed. What prompted this post was my wife's question as to what happens to the donors records upon his death and would the cryobank release his name and info.

My reponse was simply No. And the reason is quite obvious: How would they know that he has died? This puts aside the obvious that the agreement between donor and bank was one probably drafted as anonymous into perpetuity. Unless this donor made special arrangements to release his info at death and he took steps to ensure the bank is so notified how would they know.

Identity release programs are a whole topic unto themselves. We know our donor was not part of any such program. We also know current attempts by the cryobank to contact him (re lifetime photo series) have gone out with no responses to the cryobank. So its unlikely any death based info will surface.

It becomes evident to me that for some African Americans they have better odds at tracking their past into Slavery era records than my kids do regarding learning the names of their donors own parents and his own name. The genealogist in me finds that sad. The DI Dad in me concurrently recognizes the loss.

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