I think the best thing to do is (be) open with your children about it. Open from the very beginning. I know of some donor-conceived children that found out later in life. And they’ve been quite bitter about the whole thing.
I’m Greg. I’m infertile. I’ve got Klinefelter’s Syndrome, that’s a genetic disorder that means I can’t actually conceive children.
My name is Angie, mother of two donor-conceived children Tara and Cassie, Cassie being the eldest. We basically let them know that there’s another person in the background that has actually helped produce them.
Greg and Angie’s children have always been aware that they were donor-conceived. Telling them about it came early in their lives when they understood just the basic concepts. So was there much reaction?
Not really a lot. You know...big deal! Really, I think that’s good in a way. There’s nothing unusual about it or nothing that’s going follow up in a few year’s time thinking; oh why didn’t we know this? Because they’ll always remember knowing that we’ve had these snippets of conversation and I guess what will happen soon is the penny will drop and that’s when the questions will come.
We feel it’s very important for the children to know about their donor origins.
And the other issue that comes up too is that, when do you actually tell them. Do you tell them when they’re going to school? Or when they start going through puberty, and they have all these other emotions going on at the time and they probably don’t want to hear about this sort of thing. Parents often find it very difficult to tell at a later stage because they can’t find the words, can’t create the situation. … or can’t even find a good situation. And so it becomes very difficult, in some cases they never tell.
I think it’s the social aspect that people still feel as though it’s really bad to have done it. Yeah I think that’s what it comes down to. People think, oh you couldn’t have your kids. I think they have the perception that other people think that way but really I think people don’t really care. It’s more respectable now that that’s the way you perhaps have to have a family then that’s the way you deal with it. People know IVF now and they often mistake one for the other so they don’t really have a lot of understanding people out there of what the different situations are.
I think when people first going through the idea of using somebody else’s genetics they think it’s just a huge issue. It’s going to have such a huge significant impact on their life I think they forget that later on... It’s part of the picture; it’s only a minor picture I think.
Well I truly believe when they start the process that they really need to have a good think about what they’re doing and be comfortable in their decision. So many people I think go through it really quickly and don’t feel comfortable and feel really ashamed. I don’t know what the words are or how they might be feeling, but I think to have an issue in the background and that it makes them uncomfortable in speaking openly about it and therefore they can’t tell their kids, they can’t tell their family in some cases, they can’t tell their friends. And I think it’s all got to do with at the very beginning just accepting what’s happened to them and finding a place for it and once they’ve settled on that they’ll be able to feel that it’s all right. They can speak about it and therefore they’ll speak to their kids about it.
But how do you start to speak about it? What words do you use? Greg and Angie quickly learned that there are many others who have faced these questions. And, that there is a lot of collective advice out there.
I think perhaps if they seek out some people who have gone through it. Speak to some people that have had some children. So get in contact with counsellors and support groups that are out there. Get in touch... come to a social... Speak to some other parents. They’ll find that we’re all in that boat in some situation. Some are quite happy about how it’s gone through. Some have had more difficulty than others. So I think people feel more comfortable if they speak to other people about it. Yeah that would help.
I think we’ve done it the right way. Well it would be very difficult if you had to actually say it now. So I can understand people that have got some grown children where they were told at the beginning not to say anything to now have to say something. And I can feel that it would be very, very hard to start to have that conversation with your children, I mean, how do you do it? You know, by the way...It’s like the adoption; hi by the way... you’re adopted. You know it would be very hard to make that conversation if the don’t know. No I haven’t regretted it. I think we’ve done that right.