I have noticed an interesting phenomenon in my counselling work with IVF clients.
For all the IVF clients I work with who are using a donor – be it for donor sperm, donor egg or donor embyro – we have to talk about disclosure. In other words, how are you going to tell your donor-conceived child that they were donor conceived.
Most people say “Well…when the time is right, I guess we’ll just…tell them.” This is a fair call seeing as this is not a widely discussed topic, but then its my turn to offer some other suggestions. For example, research tends to suggest that starting to talk about donor conception in age appropriate ways from birth (yes, even when bub is pre-verbal) is a good way to integrate this information into the child’s identity and decrease shame and confusion.
Some ways of doing this include using story books created for this very purpose. For example, My Story: For Children Conceived by Donor Insemination is a great story book about donor sperm use to make a happy family. Another method includes having information about the donor in a child’s baby book.
So where am I going with all this?
Well, although donor-conceived parents-to-be feel rightly unsure and awkward about how these conversations will turn out, many of them seem more disturbed by the fact that disclosure will mean they have to talk about sex and reproduction!
I find this very interesting – that providing sex education is still so taboo that it seems more difficult than disclosing donor-conception to a child. But of course this makes sense, as we still live in a world where honest conversations about sex just don’t happen that often. And, parents often feel very ill equipped, or even discouraged, to have “the talk” with their kids.
But rather than just getting angry at society (which I often do), I see myself in a great position to provide these parents-to-be with encouragement and permission to provide sex education alongside their donor-conception education. And I know a few good story books for that too!
Dr. Alice Hucker
Clinical Psychologist & Sex Therapist
Note: Although I mentioned “the talk” I would like to say that comprehensive sex education if more of an ongoing conversation at different ages and stages – not just one brief awkward conversation that gets you off the hook 🙂
Resources from this post:
My Story: For Children Conceived by Donor Insemination