How to Talk to Your Child About Being Donor-Conceived
Becoming a parent through the use of donor sperm or donor eggs is a unique and exciting journey. However, a common concern usually arises between parents who have a donor-conceived child. How and when do you talk about donor conception with your son or daughter? The opinions vary from parent to parent, but many professionals suggest telling your child early on.
Donor-conceived: Reasons to Tell Your Child
The Donor Conception Network suggests the following bulleted points:
That telling children about their origins via donor conception –
- Puts honesty at the heart of family relationships
- Is respectful of donor-conceived children/people as individuals in their own right
- Allows donor-conceived people to make choices about their lives
- Allows donor-conceived children to learn about aspects of their history, integrate the knowledge as they grow up and accept their story without shock or distress
- Means that significant differences between a child and parent (in looks, talents etc.) can be easily explained. Without having an explanation as children, some adults have thought they must be adopted or the result of an affair
- Means that a true medical history (or lack of it) can be given to doctors, making diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions more accurate. It also removes anxiety about the inheritance of disorders from the non-genetic parent
- Does not mean that children will reject their non-genetic parent.
What Age is the Right Time?
There is no guaranteed ‘right time’ or age to tell your child how they were created, but research shows that starting early is the best option. The goal of telling your child early on in life is so there is no time when they didn’t know how they were conceived. Many professionals suggest telling before the age of 4. Usually around the age 4 is when kids start asking where they came from.
Some parents start explaining when their child is just a baby. It gives you great practice at telling your story during a time when your baby doesn’t quite understand the words but just enjoys your attention. This is also a great confidence booster for explaining the situation later on once your child is better able to understand.
For some reason, if you are unable to talk with your child at an early age, it’s still possible at any age. There is no deadline. You will only need to handle the situation differently and be more prepared during the explanation process.
Watch the Wellbeing of Donor-Conceived Children by Susan Golombok
Susan Golombok, the Professor of Family Research and Director of the Centre for Family at the University of Cambridge, gave a great talk about donor-conceived children. “Donor children are no different than other children and their families,” says Susan. Watch the video to learn more about her professional opinion on how to approach the subject with your child.
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