Anyone doing any research at all on families created by sperm donation, egg donation, embryo donation, or surrogacy, will run across the name of Dr. Susan Golombok, Director of the Centre for Family Research at the University of Cambridge in England. She and her team are have done the most thorough job of researching families formed in non-traditional ways. She is especially known for her longitudinal research which has been following children (now teens and young adults) and their parents. (Can you hear me swoon?!?)
Dr. Golombok was the guest on this week’s Creating a Family show talking about How Children Conceived with the Aid of Sperm/Egg/Embryo Donation or Surrogacy are Doing. Our other guest was Dr. Martha Rueter, Associate Professor of Family Social Science at University of Minnesota, who is also researching donor conceived families. If you used third party reproduction or are considering it, you absolutely MUST listen to this show (if only to hear me gush).
The Kids are Fine
Kids conceived with the help of donor sperm or donor egg look about the same as kids created through natural conception or families created by infant adoption. In the pre-school years, these donor conceived families had more positive parent-child relationships than naturally conceived families, but this difference disappeared by middle elementary age.
Some Parents are Not So Fine
By middle childhood parents that had not told their child about their conception with donor sperm or eggs showed higher levels of emotional distress than parents that conceived naturally or those that had told their children. More worrisome, observational assessment of parent- child interactions showed less positive interactions with mothers that had not told their child about their conception. These differences were not observed in mothers that had told. These differences did not rise to the level of dysfunction, but were statistically significant.
P.S. I asked on the show if parents that used infertility treatment to conceive their children were more over-protective since that was the topic of a recent blog and subject of much discussion. Dr. Martha Reuter said that her research had found that while they say they are more protective, objective measure show that they parent about the same as parents that were not infertile.
Does this research findings that the kids are about the same, but parents that haven’t told are more stressed surprise you?