Who are the Donor Conception Network?

DC Network is a membership association and a charity registered by the Charity Commission in England and Wales – charity number 1041297

DC Network is a charity offering information, support and community to donor conception families and prospective families. It was started in 1993 by five families with children conceived with the help of sperm donation. They decided, against the advice of the day, to be honest with their children about how they were conceived. They wanted to come together to break the isolation felt by so many using donor conception and support each other in their decision to be open.

Since those early days the charity now welcomes those using egg, double or embryo donation, sometimes also involving surrogacy.  We have always been inclusive and have books, workshops and groups specifically aimed at same-sex couples, single people and heterosexual couples, as well as general events and services suitable for all family types.

As children have grown up within the Network we have developed resources and services for them, as well as continuing to support the parents of older children. We focus on openness as this is one of the most challenging topics for many people, but we welcome families who are just exploring whether or not openness with their children and others is right for them as well as those who have already made this decision.

Drawing on our experiences and relevant research, we aim to support and guide would-be and current parents in the issues they face and the feelings they may have about making and raising a family created in this way.

  • How do children feel about being donor conceived?
  • Will I bond with a child that is not genetically connected to me?
  • How can I go about exploring whether 'telling' is right for our family?
  • When should I start telling my child about his or her origins and how do I go about it?
  • Do I need to 'tell' other people outside our family?

We offer a membership subscription model to access some of our services. We are governed by a group of trustees formally elected annually at the AGM. Our office is located in London in the UK and we have a large number of volunteers based around the UK and beyond.

Current trustees

Sue Dean

Sue Dean (Chair)

Rachel Gundesen

Rachel Gundesen

Ros Wall

Ros Wall

Tom Amies-Cull

Tom Amies-Cull

Elizabeth Isaacs QC

Elizabeth Isaacs QC

Hannah Drinkwater

Hannah Drinkwater

Geoffrey Marx

Geoffrey Marx

Staff and office

The Network is run by a team of staff from our office at 154 Caledonian Road, London N1 9RD, UK.

Office hours:  During school term time the office is staffed Monday to Friday 9.30am to 4pm.  There may well be staff present outside of these times.  Emails and phone messages are retrieved remotely outside of office hours and we aim to respond promptly.


We are financed by membership subscriptions and donations from members; from the sale of publications and other resources; from income from workshop bookings; from contributions to our clinic and lawyer supporter schemes. We occasionally receive grants from public or charitable bodies.

What people say about the Network

“I just want to let you know what an enormous comfort I have gained from your site and the personal stories that have made me realise that we are not the only ones facing these challenges”

“We feel so much better informed and supported – no longer the little island we thought we were”

“Ever since I first contacted the Network I have had such unstinting support. I have always known you were there if I needed you.”

DC Network Professional External Advisors

Sharon Pettle

Sharon is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist and trained in Family Psychotherapy in London and the USA. She worked in NHS child and adolescent services for more than 30 years. Her research includes the impact of late disclosure of biological parentage, and how families built with the assistance of sperm donation have told their children and kept the subject in open dialogue. She has worked therapeutically and offered consultations to families built through donor conception and/or surrogacy for since 1999. 

Sharon started the groups offered for 8-12yr old donor conceived children and naturally conceived siblings almost twenty years ago. She has developed these further over the years and trained others to assist. Sharon has published papers about them following a residency at Fondation Brocher, Geneva, Switzerland. She has held various Honorary Senior Lecturer posts at London Universities. She offers workshops for clinical psychologists, psychotherapists, and others in the UK and abroad. 

Enquiries should be made to the office in the first instance.

Marilyn Crawshaw

Marilyn is a Fellow in the Social Work and Social Policy department at the University of York.  She has a long standing professional and academic interest in the experiences of individuals, couples and families arising from matters to do with reproductive health, disability and social and cultural context. As well as practising as a social worker in this field for many years (including running an infertility counselling service in a busy district hospital for 12 years), she has written and researched into related areas including the experiences of donor conception, cancer-related fertility and adoption.

Marilyn was a Social and Ethical Inspector and then an External Adviser to the HFEA from the early 1990s until earlier this year.  She is a founder member of the British Infertility Counselling Association and editor of their Practice Guide series.  She is also currently Co-Chair (with Professor Eric Blyth) of the multi-agency UK Project Group on Assisted Reproduction (PROGAR).  Marilyn was appointed as the national Adviser to UK DonorLink from its inception and chairs its Advisory Group and Registrants Panel.