Disclosing Donor Conception to Our Kids

Have you conceived through donor conception or are you considering this? Join us for the fascinating dive into disclosing (or not) this information to your child. We will talk with Dr. Patricia E. Hershberger, Associate Professor at the College of Nursing and Affiliate Professor at the College of Medicine, Dept. of Obstetrics & Gynecology, at the University of Illinois in Chicago.

In this episode, we cover:

  • How common is donor conception in the US? In other countries?
  • What percentage of parents in heterosexual couples tell their child of their donor conception?
  • Is there a difference in the percentage of parents disclosing conception with children conceived by donor sperm, donor egg, or donor embryo?
  • Is there a difference in the willingness to discuss surrogacy with children? 
  • What does the research show about how many parents that say they are going to tell actually do tell by age 5 or age 10 or age 15?
  • Is there a difference of opinion in the professional field on whether children should be told? On whether professionals should counsel patients to tell their child?
  • The impact of over-the-counter genetic testing on parents’ willingness to disclose donor conception and infertility professionals’ willingness to encourage disclosure. 
    • Genetics study in school also raises questions 
  • Is telling more common in same sex couples?
  • What are the motivating factors for parents who have told?
  • What reasons do parents give for not telling their child?
  • Is unresolved grief over their infertility (if infertility was a factor) a motivating factor for not telling?
  • Research has found that there are two general approaches behind when to tell children about their conception by donor sperm, egg, or embryo: “seed planting” and “right time”.
  • What is the average age that parents tell their child?
  • What word do parents use to describe the donor to the child? Does this word differ based on whether the parent is in a heterosexual partnership, a same-sex partnership, or is single?
  • How do parents talk about donor conception? If a two-parent household, which parent usually tells?
  • Is there a general story-line that parents use when talking with the child?
  • What does the research show about how donor conceived children feel about donor conception? Does it impact the quality of family functioning in a positive or negative way?
  • Use of children’s books.
  • What role could infertility professionals, especially nurses, play in disclosure decisions for infertility patients?
  • Should nurses, or other professionals, encourage disclosure?
    • How can they support following through on the disclosure?

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Music Credit: Michael Ashworth

Image Credit: Mart Production