Talk to your child about their origins
If your child, or children, were conceived as a result of assisted conception, telling them about their origins can be a sensitive topic to discuss. However, if done honestly and if discussed at the right time, the issue need not be a difficult one to broach.
When to talk to your child about their origins
Evidence from the experience of adoption, as well as studies of donor-conceived people, suggest that it is best for donor conceived people to be told about their origins in childhood.
Finding out suddenly, later in life, may be emotionally damaging to donor-conceived people and their family. This, coupled with the donor conceived peoples’ legal right to find out about their genetic origins, means that it is advisable for parents to be open with their children from an early age.
However, if circumstance or choice have led you to tell your child later in life this can still be done well with the right preparation and guidance. The Donor Conception Network can assist you in taking this step. Read more about the Donor Conception Network.
Parents of people conceived on or after 1 August 1991 following treatment at an HFEA licensed clinic can contact the HFEA to find out information about their child’s donor.
Being open and honest
Family secrets can undermine trust and lead to conflict and stress. They can also suggest to donor-conceived children that their parents are ashamed of how they were conceived.
If you, as the parent, are open about how your child was conceived there is no reason they should feel any different to any other child.
If donation has been part of the family story for as long as your child can remember, their genetic origins needn’t be an issue.
Some donor-conceived children are likely to want to know more about their donor, while others won’t be particularly interested.
The Donor Conception Network (DCN) has produced a series of booklets called ‘Telling and Talking’. These aim to prepare and support parents of donor-conceived people to tell their children about their origins.
The booklets can be ordered online or downloaded from the DCN website.
The DCN is a self-help network comprised of:
- over 1,000 families created with the help of donated eggs, sperm or embryos
- couples and individuals seeking to found a family through assisted reproduction
- adults conceived using a donor.
You may wish to seek counselling, or similar support services, on best methods of discussing donor conception with your child.
There are a number of organisations set up to offer counselling services and advice:
Page last updated: 16 August 2012