When using donor eggs with in vitro fertilization (deIVF) to create your family, many emotional and psychological factors are involved. Once you have decided on using an egg donor to achieve pregnancy you have most likely already come to terms with the genetic grief and the emotional aspects of having a baby using third party reproduction. In addition there is also the question of when and how to tell your children that they are donor conceived.
In this article we look into some of the advice given by experts, ways to introduce the dialogue into family life and also consider the opinions and experiences of some adults who were born using donated eggs (and/or sperm).
WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME TO TELL CHILDREN THEY ARE DONOR CONCEIVED?
Most experts recommend that you tell your children before the age of five. By telling them early they grow up knowing and accepting it without any revelation shock. They idea is that they can be allowed to grow up never not knowing, and therefore accept it is always part of them.
There are many ways you can introduce the concept to your young children. You can tell them right from birth, wait until they are toddlers and can actively listen and understand, or even wait until they start asking the dreaded “where do babies come from” question at around the age of 4 years old.
There are lots of resources available on the Internet, with advice from experts, counselors, other parents who have gone the route of using a donor and people conceived from using donated gametes. There are also lots of beautifully illustrated children’s books which you can read from early on with your children to introduce the idea that mummy needed some help from another woman to have her much loved children.
HOW SECRECY CAN AFFECT YOUR CHILDREN
This could mean two different things:
- Whether or not to keep it secret from your child that you used an egg donor. It is not the aim of this article to debate this issue, but it is an important factor to bear in mind that with all the websites available today that offer family tree building, ancestry searching and DNA testing, this secret could be revealed at any time. A simple DNA test could reveal to a unknowing individual that their parents are not genetically related to them after all, and have been keeping a secret that could threaten their self-identity.
- Telling your children about their genetic origins but insisting that they, or other family members, keep it secret and don’t talk about it. Asking anyone to keep a secret can make them feel like they have something to be ashamed of, and there should certainly be no shame in the fact that your mother used an egg from another woman to create a very much wanted and loved child. At the end of the day it will be your child’s story and they should be able to tell it as they see fit.
WHAT DO DONOR CONCEIVED ADULTS THINK ABOUT IT
Studies performed by an independent resource center and support group* give a valuable insight into how it affect the child and not just the parents. Although these studies are composed of people mainly born using a sperm donor, it is reasonable to assume that the same perceptions are experienced by those who are born using a donated oocyte.
Surveys show that those who were told young, for example before three years old, have a much more positive experience about it than those who found out later in life, and indeed use more positive vocabulary to talk about their experience. Furthermore, over 90% of the people who responded said that they do want some sort of relationship with their donor, which demonstrates how important knowing your origins can be.
If you are considering building your family using donor eggs then OvobankID will be delighted to help you. You can get in touch with us using our contact form, or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and one of our country specific advisors will be waiting with all the information, and the donor, that you need.
*Yearly survey conducted by “We Are Donor Conceived” See 2020 survey results here