Jennifer Speirs Cert Medical Social Work, Diploma Social Studies, MA, MSc, PhD

Jennifer Speirs is registered as a social worker with the SSSC and is a research associate of the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Research on Families and Relationships:

She received a doctorate in 2008 for her thesis ‘Secretly connected? Anonymous semen donation, genetics and meanings of kinship’:

Her research explored within a social anthropology framework the meanings of kinship and the significance of genetics to men who had donated semen anonymously twenty to forty years previously. Her research project emerged from her longstanding social work experience in hospitals, local authorities and NGOs and her particular knowledge and practice wisdom in origins issues, especially in the areas of adoption, fostering, infertility, health-related social work and the life-long issues for adults brought up apart from their birth families.

Jennifer was a founder member of Progar, Honorary Treasurer of the British Infertility Counselling Association from 2001-2004, counselling representative on the British Fertility Society’s executive committee 2004-2010, BASW representative on the board of Children in Scotland 1992 to 1996 and 1998 to 2000, and a Clinic Inspector for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority 1991-2006. She is currently based at the Centre for Research on Families and Relationships at the University of Edinburgh:

Jennifer’s work pro bono includes intermediary work for Norcap - Adults Affected by Adoption (2008-2013) and membership of the Church of Scotland’s Society Religion and Technology Committee’s Kinship Bonds Working Party:


Speirs, J. (forthcoming) ‘What adoption law suggests about donor anonymity policies: a UK perspective,’ in Trudo Lemmens, Andrew Flavelle Martin, Cheryl Milne, and Ian B. Lee (eds), Regulating Creation: The Law, Ethics, and Policy of Assisted Human Reproduction, University of Toronto Press.

Speirs J. (2016) ‘Eddies of distrust: ‘False’ birth certificates and the destabilisation of relationships’ in Ystanes, M. and Broch-Due, V. (eds), Intimacy, Trust, and the Social: Tensed Relations, New York: Berghahn Books.

Speirs, J. (2013) 'Anonymous Semen Donation: Medical Treatment or Medical Kinship?' Cargo – Journal for Cultural and Social Anthropology Cargo 1, 2 / 2011 – Medical

Anthropology in Central East Europe (Special Issue) vol 8, no. 1-2, pp. 73-90 available at:

Speirs, Jennifer (2012) ‘Secretly connected? Perceptions about anonymous semen donation and genetic fatherhood’ CRFR Briefing 63, Centre for Research on Families and Relationships,

Speirs, J.M. (2012) ‘Semen donors’ curiosity about donor offspring and the barriers to their knowing’, Human Fertility, vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 89-93.

Speirs, J. (2011) ‘Performing secrecy: Maintaining the Hidden Identity of Research Informants in Public’ in Jamieson, L., Simpson, R. and Lewis, R. (eds.) Researching Families and Relationships: Reflections on Process, Palgrave Studies in Family & Intimate Life, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Blyth, E., Frith L., Jones C. and Speirs, J. (2009) ‘The Role of Birth Certificates in Relation to Access to Biographical and Genetic History in Donor Conception’, International Journal of Children's Rights, 17/2 (2009), pp. 207-233.

Speirs, J. (2008) ‘Who’s the Daddy?’ in Genomics Network Newsletter March 2008, pp24-25,

Speirs J. (2008) ‘Sperm donors are curious too’ in The Edge, ESRC research news, Spring 2008

Speirs, J. (2007) ‘Keeping secrets: ethical and practical problems in fieldwork at home’ in Radmila Lorencová and Jennifer Speirs (eds.).Reflection of Man. Praha: FHS UK.

Speirs J.M. (2007) ‘Personal semen donors: report of a survey of UK clinics’ provision of donor-assisted conception treatment to patients using own known donors’. Published on National Gamete Donation Trust’s website April 2007.

Blyth, E. and Speirs, J. (2004) ‘Meeting the rights and needs of donor-conceived people: the contribution of a voluntary contact register’. Nordisk Socialt Arbeid Volume 24, 4, pp. 318-330

Blyth, E., Crawshaw, M., Haase, J. and Speirs, J. (2001) 'The implications of adoption for donor offspring following donor assisted conception', Child and Family Social Work, 6, 4, 295-304.

Speirs, J. (1998) ‘Scotland’s Birthlink: meeting the emotional and information needs of the adoption community’ in Separation, reunion, reconciliation: proceedings from the Sixth Australian Conference on Adoption, Brisbane, June 1997. Brisbane, Queensland. Stones Corner, Qld.: J. Benson for Committee of the Conference, 1998.

Speirs, J. (1997) ‘Adjusting to infertility - a life-long process for adoptive families?’ In Adoption and Healing: Proceedings of the International Conference on Adoption and Healing, Wellington, Aotearoa/New Zealand 1997. New Zealand Adoption Education and Healing Trust: Wellington, New Zealand.

BOOK REVIEWS (selection)

Konrad, M: ‘Nameless Relations: Anonymity, Melanesia and Reproductive Gift Exchange between British Ova donors and Recipients’ in Medical Anthropology Quarterly, 2008 Vol 22, Issue 4, pp 427-428

Howell, S: ‘The Kinning of Foreigners: Transnational Adoption in a Global Perspective’ in Ethnos, 2008, Volume 73, Issue 4, pp 566-567.