Telling your kids about their donor conception

“… yes, they really do need to know.”

Your dream has come true. Your child(ren) are here. You can hold them, grow them and love them, and it is all real. With the help of an egg/sperm/embryo donor, your family is now complete. But what happens when the time comes to tell your children about their genetic origins? Below are a few simple tips that may help what can be a nerve-racking process.

  1. Telling is a process, not a one or event two-time event.  Start by simply laying a foundation and add details as your child grows. And it doesn’t have to be a ‘we need to talk’ moment either – it could be while you’re in the car on the way to the grocery!
  2. You don’t have to tell everything all at once!  You may be tempted to ‘put it all out there’ and tell everything you know and just get it over.  Instead start off with the basics, in language they can understand and add details as they mature.
  3. Don’t wait until ‘someday’.  Honestly, it’s easier to start telling your child even when they are an infant.  It helps you to tell them their story and get comfortable with the language you use and grow confident in the telling. Bonus: there are a lot more resources to help parents of younger children.
  4. Even if you’ve waited, they deserve to know.  The Awareness Center webinar “How Do We Tell the Kids” is a great resource for learning how to tell children their conception story at any age.
  5. Simplicity counts. 
    • We wanted you very much.
    • We had trouble getting pregnant.
    • We got help from a doctor and other people.
    • We were so happy when you were born to us.
  6. Consider the language you’ll use.  Unlike an egg donor or a sperm donor an embryo donor family has children in their home who are full genetic siblings of the children in your home.  Many such families prefer the term Genetic Parent, rather than donor.   You are the parent, but the embryo donor is a critical part of the story.
  7. More questions may come. Be sure your child clearly understands that you are open to their questions.  Remember you don’t have to answer questions right away.  You may want to give some thought to your answers, and that’s okay.
  8. It’s your child’s story. Although there is a fine line between privacy and secrecy there comes a time when your child will make her conception story her own and share it with whoever she wants.  Do not encourage secrecy, because it implies that there is something wrong and shameful about the way the child come to be a part of your family.
  9. They may want to meet the Genetic Parent.  This may or may not be possible based on the groundwork you establish when you accept the gift of donated embryos.  Keep your child’s best interests at heart, and know that they will want to know more about their genetic origins.  Even if you don’t have a relationship with the donor, you can make sure the embryo adoption agency keeps information readily available for your child at a time in the future when they want it.  Remember, this request from your child does not mean they are seeking to replace you.

Thanks to our friends at Creating a Family for providing most of the information for this blog!

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