My experience finding out I was donor conceived

My name is Kimberley Turner. I am a 28-year-old donor-conceived woman and mother of two boys. I’d like to share with you a little of my experience as a donor-conceived person and how it has impacted on my life.

My mother conceived me in 1983 with genetic material from a man I know only as 4P (my biological father). I have a donor-conceived sister with the same genetic father, a donor-conceived brother with a different genetic father, and four half siblings who I don’t know.

I was led to believe for 21 years that I shared the same genes as both my Mum and Dad. In 2005 the truth was finally revealed to us by another family member. Secrets such as these are seldom kept, as the guilt is too burdensome.

In some ways finding out I was donor conceived made sense of the slight displaced feelings I had while growing up. Mostly, I felt hurt that something as important as this had been kept secret from me by my own parents, the people I am supposed to trust the most. It made me think that perhaps my family was even ashamed of how I had come to exist, that my sister, brother and I were some kind of dirty family secret.

Then there was the devastating realisation that no matter how much I longed to know my full background, there would always be a missing part. I had no rights to know where I had come from. I felt totally disempowered as I searched many avenues, all leading to a dead end.

As I understand now, fertility clinics of the era in which I was conceived did in fact counsel couples to never tell their children that they were donor conceived. No one would ever have to know.

Thank god things have changed. Society has recognised the crucial importance of people knowing their true medical and genetic history. There is so much support for being open and honest with children about who they are, how they came to be and their full history. Fertility counsellors can help parents deal with this.

I think if children are told of their origins from a young age it may help them to incorporate it into their identity. It becomes a part of their life story. Children should be allowed the opportunity to express their feelings about this part of themselves. These feelings may change at different stages of their lives. For example, a child may not think it is important, but as they grow and develop or even have their own children they may change how they feel. All people are unique, and therefore not all donor-conceived people will feel the same way.

I guess the most important thing to remember as parents of donor conceived people is that no matter how your child thinks, feels or acts about this, they will always need your support. Being donor conceived is really a part of your child that belongs to them, and they should be allowed to express themselves with the support of their loving parents.