Cryos sperm bank offer their top tips to help your kids understand their own story

BY CRYOS INTERNATIONAL

It can be difficult to answer the questions that most children have about how they came into the world, perhaps more so when your child was conceived through a donor.

Their story is different and so here, experts Cryos International have gathered a few tips to help you tell your donor child their own story! 

It is important to tell the truth 

For many years, there’s been a huge debate about whether parents should tell their children the truth about being donor-conceived or not.

When donor conception was in its early stages a number of experts recommended not telling children about being donor-conceived. Since then, there’s been a lot of research in the field of donor conception and on the wellbeing of donor children.

Today, we know that telling your child the truth is the right thing to do:    

  • Honesty coupled with respect is always a good starting point for any relationship – this also being true in the relationship between parent and child.
  • Today’s possibilities within DNA testing, social networking, etc, has made it possible to investigate your own family history. It has never been easier to acquire knowledge about your genetic background. Therefore, it is recommended to tell your child about their origin as it’s arguably better for them to receive the information directly from their parents.
  • By telling your child the truth, it gives the child a chance to integrate being donor conceived into their own story and sense of self while growing up.
  • The full medical history of the child’s genetic inheritance (or the lack of it) can be given to doctors, in case it becomes relevant later.

When to tell

The Donor Conception Network recommends that the process of sharing information with your child should begin when the child is under the age of five, in order for the child to grow up knowing about their origins.

Some families already start having the conversation with their child as babies while others choose to introduce their two-year-old to books about their family story.

However, the most important thing to remember, according to Susan Golombok, a Professor of Family Research, is to tell the child the truth before they reach school age. Golombok has found that children who are told before school age forge better relationships with their parents. 

The child will not need to understand a detailed version of the story from the beginning. As the child grows up and expands their understanding and cognitive abilities, you may choose to add more details and additional information.

Remember though, that telling your child that they were conceived with the help of a donor is a process and there is no right or wrong way to do it. How many details you choose to add to the story depends on you and your family.

Which words to use about the donor?

Before having the conversation, it is a good idea to consider which words to use when talking about the donor.  

Do you wish to use the word “donor”, “father” or maybe “a family friend”? How will the word be integrated into your family story and what will the word mean for the donor’s role in your child’s life?

Professor Veerle Provoost, who studies alternative families, attended TED talk “How to define a parent” where she talks about how parents and children create their own family narratives.

In the TED talk, there are great examples on how donor conceived children view their donor. Top tip? It is definitely worth watching!   

For more, visit the Cryos blog and read donor child Emma’s story now.

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