Telling their son about donor conception

Donor conception

Despite having their sons in the secretive era of donor conception in the1980’s| Kerry and her husband Greg had concerns that their story would come out later and so chose to be very open with their sons and their extended family from the start. They are so glad they did as a recent medical diagnosis requiring a bone marrow transplant would have revealed the secret at a very traumatic time.

Kerry used a children’s book to explain their story to their sons. She also needed to repeat the story whenever her children forgot what they had been told. She is pleased with their decision and wouldn’t do it any other way. Her sons, now in their twenties, are well adjusted and comfortable and couldn’t love their Dad more.


Telling their son about donor conception: Kerry

Corey was born in 1989 so we started trying in 1983 and again it was the early days of IVF, the early days of everything. Both Greg and I were from Catholic families who didn’t believe in any of this. The Catholics were having a big say in what was going on and I came home one day and told my mother that we’ve decided that we were going to try artificial insemination and she looked at me in shock horror and said, “I wouldn’t try anything artificial.” I just blinked and went ‘Okay’ and just left it at that. Then we sat down with Greg’s parents and told them the same thing and they said, “Why would you tell us what you were going to do? We don’t want to know what you are going to do. We don’t want to know anything about it. It’s up to you but don’t mention it to any of the family.” and we went, ‘You know what? We are.’

We had concerns that it would come out later and we didn’t want any surprises. We had Corey and then three years later we had Aaron from the same donor. My eldest is very dark haired, dark eyed; very similar to me. The two younger ones are very blonde as you can see they’re very much like their Dad (Greg). In fact Corey was like a clone of him, which was quite amazing. They’re not with me at the moment because Greg’s very ill and in the terminal stages of cancer and the boys are with him today. When I asked them about a month ago if they wanted to come up here and talk they both said yes they would but they couldn’t understand what the issue was because for them there are no issues.

They are what they are and they’ve never had any inclination to look for their donor. They were raised to know that they were donor conceived but we never sat them down and actually had a conversation. We had a book in the bookcase. We had an older child who had to know why we're going off to the hospital constantly on these long jaunts. Why I was constantly injecting myself with things. So he had a very good sex education and he contributed to quite a few of my neighbours in the classroom mate’s sex education. So a few of their friends' parents were quite happy that they never actually had to have the talk.

The little ones just grew up knowing the same.

And a girlfriend of mine is a social worker and we were sitting there one day and there was a show on tele that came on about donor and the little one was about seven and he went, “Why would you do that?” And my girlfriend Amanda said, “I thought you said you told them.” I said, “I have.” I said to him, “That’s what you are. That’s how we had you.” and he went, “Oh, oh yeah.” When his brothers came home from school he proceeded to give them another long lecture about how they were conceived and what it meant and I worried a bit then about whether it was a shock to him but again it was that was the way it is.

With their Dad’s illness now, I’m pleased that we made the decision to tell them very early and let them know. Greg had to have bone marrow transplant so were looking for familial donors. Our donor had different blood groups of there’s no way that could every be a match and that could have come out or been a very difficult time or traumatic time that no one was expecting, so we overcame that hurdle, thank God.

We later found out that my mother had a secret of her own and that’s been really quite difficult dealing with all of that. That was their era. She’s got the best, had the best relationship with all my boys. After a concern about the artificial child, from the minute the blue-eyed Corey was born she absolutely doted on him. She’s got dementia at the moment. Probably he is the boy that she absolutely remembers and connects with every time. The others she still struggles a bit; but Corey, she’s never forgotten his name. She recognises him the minute he comes in, and she still dotes on him. So I think that says something.

Greg’s parents were a little bit standoffish and my brother in law and his wife had a baby two days before Corey was born and we were all together comparing babies etc. and I noticed that she was reluctant to nurse Corey. We manoeuvred her into a chair and sat them both on her knee and from there on she’s always, the boys are all just part of the family and it’s neither here nor there at the end of the day and it makes no difference what so ever. I think honesty is the way to go and at the end of the day you can have a family made up of any configuration as long as you’re all loved and you love each other and support each other.

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