We have to use donor sperm/eggs/embryos to have a child. How important are genetic ties to feeling close and connected to a child?
But parenting is about more than genetics. At its core, it is about relationships – a relationship between a parent and child – a relationship that is like no other relationship in duration, commitment, and intensity.
Genetic ties are not the only way to feel close or connected to a child. Some parents do not feel close to their children, despite being genetically related to them. Just like parents who adopt a child, parents who choose to use a donor(s) to create their family, usually say they “couldn’t love their child any more” if this child was genetically related to them.
So if you are considering using donor gametes (sperm, eggs, or embryos) to build your family, it’s important to remember that this form of family building is not a 2nd best option as opposed to having your own biological children. Rather, it’s an alternative that gives many individuals and couples a chance to experience pregnancy and childbirth – one that results in many loving and close families that would not have been possible otherwise.
The National Fertility Association “RESOLVE” has an entire section on Donor options – keep in mind this is information from the US but has some relevance to Canadian audiences. Check it out here.
You might want to check out the Donor Conception Network for resources and articles on donor conception. Click here to access their website.
Read about the emotional aspects of considering third party reproduction here.
You might also find these books useful:
Helping the Stork: The Choices and Challenges of Donor Insemination by Carol Vercollone, Heidi Moss, and Robert Moss (1997)
Having Your Baby Through Egg Donation by Ellen Sarasohn and Evelina Sterling (2012)
Assisted Human Reproduction Canada has a fact sheet on third party reproduction and the Canadian law here.
If you convey the message to your child, that she or he was wanted and that you made a loving choice to bring them into this world, you will be sending a powerful and important message about their origins and about the fact that they were conceived from love.
In the past, it was common for parents to keep their child’s origins a secret for fear that the child would be upset, or when they are older that they would reject their non-genetic parent. Couples also worried about how other family members would feel about the child if they knew. But times have changed, and many more parents are talking to their children from an early age, and explaining in simple, positive terms, how they were created.
When they are older, some donor conceived children express curiosity about their donor. As a way of better understanding themselves, they may want to find out more about their donor’s medical history, family history, appearance, or about him/her as a person. This curiosity is normal. It doesn’t mean they want to have a relationship with the donor or that they see the donor as their parent. They usually just want to know more about their origins.
If you are considering using a donor to help you have a child, these children’s books may be useful in understanding how donor conception can be explained to a child:
The Family Book by Todd Parr (2010)
Mommy, Was Your Tummy Big? by Carolina Nadel (2007)
A Part Was Given And An Angel Was Born by Rozanne Nathalie (2002)