We’ve been doing the Creating a Family radio show since 2007, and one of the most interesting shows for me was an interview with a panel of donor-conceived adults. The real experts on donor conception and the experience of living as a donor conceived person are adult donor conceived people.
Adults conceived via donor egg, sperm or embryo, don’t speak with one voice. One of the panelist on the donor conceived adult show was not particularly interested in knowing much about her donor, while the other three were actively searching. Some of the panelists felt that finding out about their conception as an adult was “earth shattering” and “shocking”, while others were surprised but took it in stride.
The panelist talked about sensing as children that something was different. Two talked about noticing that they didn’t look like their family, one talked about sensing something different in the relationship with his father when compared with other children. Two of the panelist specifically asked pointed questions to their parents during their adolescense. They felt betrayed when they found out later that their parents had not told them the truth.
The Cover-up is Always Worse
None of the panelist were told as young children that they were donor conceived. Several panelists talked about feeling betrayed. The accumulation of a lifetime of lies, both big and small, took a toll.
When I found out it was life shattering not because my dad wasn’t my father… but because I was raised under this false reality. A family should be based on trust. When this trust is broken it changes the family dynamic. It affects relationships.
When I found out I felt betrayed because my parents had always been open with me and it wasn’t in their character to [lie]… it was earth shattering.
Parents Are Afraid
I think most parents who choose not to tell do so out of fear. They are afraid it will confuse their child; they are afraid it will complicate their life; they are afraid their child might be rejected by the grandparents; and deep down they are afraid that their child won’t love them as much.
I don’t have a crystal ball with the assurance that their fears are groundless, but I can share the voices of those who were not told as children. These voices are a good counter balance to this fear.
Children’s Books on Donor Conception
The very best way to start the telling is by stocking your kid’s library with books about third party conception. We can help. Check out our great list of books for kids about being conceived by donor sperm, donor egg, or donor embryo.
Other Creating a Family Resources You Will Enjoy
- Top Ten Tips for Telling Children About Donor Egg, Sperm, and Embryo
- Is it Harmful to Not Tell Donor Conceived Kids The Truth?
- Donor Conceived Family Publicly Embarrassed-What Would You Do
- Reflections of a Donor Conceived Child: The College Essay
First published in 2014; updated in 2017.