Q: With egg donation, sperm donation, or embryo donation, what are good ways to cope with family members who persistently refer to the donor as the “mother” or “real mother” or “father” or “real father”?
A: I always suggest that you start from a position of assuming no ill intent or bad motives; therefore, I suggest that you begin by educating the family member of the distinction between a donor and a mother. One contributes genetic material, the other raises a child. I would also discuss your understanding of the relative importance of nature and nurture in human development. (If you need some help, read this blog on Nature vs. Nurture. Then politely, and without anger, ask then to refer to the donor as the “donor” and you as the “mother”.
If after educating your family member on the distinction and your preferences, they continue to disrespect your wishes, I would have a very frank and pointed conversation, saying some variation on the following: ” Regardless whether you agree or disagree with me, I feel hurt when you call the donor the mother, and I need you to stop immediately.” If they don’t, then you have the choice to distance yourself from this person because they are choosing to hurt you. I would also recommend that you listen the following Creating a Family show on Overcoming Reluctance to Donor Egg, Sperm, or Embryo in Your Extended Family where a therapist the specializes in infertility discussed this question at length.Image Credit: sharyn morrow