Shannon and her partner Mary both received fertility treatment, Shannon in 1996 and Mary in 2003. They now have three children, two from the same donor and a third from another.
Experience at the clinic
“Our reason for needing the help of a clinic to conceive children was because we are a lesbian couple rather than as a result of infertility. We were both quite lucky in getting pregnant quite quickly so the experience of the clinic was one that is associated with excitement and optimism.
“The clinic dealt with us professionally. We had a one hour session with a counsellor in the early stages of our journey through the clinic. At this interview we felt that we needed to demonstrate that we had sufficient male role models in our lives so that we could evidence that we had considered the ‘child’s need for a father’. We referred to our male friends and our relationships with our brothers to support this. (Although in reality the male friends that we had in 1996 have been only loosely involved in our lives and the men that the girls relate to now are more likely to be fathers of their friends.)”
Being open and honest
“We were asked about how we would tell our children of their origins and we answered this by saying that we would be open and honest. This we always have been and have given the girls plenty of opportunity to discuss and ask about their genetic origins. We have bought the books “Our story” both the heterosexual version and the lesbian version (when it became available)."
“We had anonymous donors. We approached the issue of donation in a quite detached way. We didn’t want to know a lot of details. We asked for Shannon’s donor to be matched to Shannon’s physical characteristics. Mary was given a couple of donors to choose between which again were matched to her hair and eye colour and chose one on the basis of wanting a middling height donor. "
Thoughts about donor compensation
“We feel that the fact that our donors did not receive significant financial gain from their donation was a positive factor as it showed that they were donating for altruistic rather than financial reasons.
“If there had been financial gain we think that it would have altered our feelings towards the process as we valued the altruistic nature of the arrangement and a financial motive would have saddened us.”
How do you feel about your children potentially having a number of half siblings?
“To be honest the issue of our children’s half siblings is not something that we consider in the normal run of events. At the moment our children have not been overtly interested in finding out or discussing their biological inheritance so the issue of finding siblings has not arisen in our family. In addition our family consists of three children so they already have a very strong links with the siblings in the family without wanting to trace others.”
How would you feel if your children wanted to find out more about their donor?
“Our girls were conceived when donor anonymity was guaranteed so there are limits on what information about the donor is available to them. If any of the girls wanted to try and track down their donor we would support them in this process, and try to warn them of the fact that there is only very limited information that is legally available to them.
“ We would talk to them about the possible sense of disappointment that might arise or the fact that if they were able to track the donor down they might not like him. We are clear that we would support the girls in this process.
“The complexity arises as both of the elder two girls have the same donor so if one girl managed to trace the donor it would inevitably impact on the other. Thus we would need to talk to both girls about the impact of tracing their donor.”
Contacting half siblings
“If the girls wanted to contact their half siblings the issue is slightly different because there is potentially more likelihood of them finding a half sibling. However we would approach this process in a similar way – i.e. by being open and supportive of their right to have an interest in their genes.
“We believe that our family and our relationships are strong enough to work through any issues that arise from sibling tracing. Of course this might be quite a challenging and unpredictable journey. It is hard to anticipate what it might involve in practice.”
Page last updated: 14 January 2011