Supposed to be going to see Andy Murray in the finals of the tennis at Queens this morning but it’s raining and I find myself reflecting on one of the most rewarding parts of my role at DC Network. Over the eighteen years since the five founding families came together in Sheffield Walter and I have talked with many thousands of couples and individuals at different points in their donor conception family story. Mostly this has been at national or local meetings, often at length over the ‘phone and increasingly now via email. But sometimes people, and it has always been couples, say that they would like to talk to the two of us face to face so if they live within easy reach of London we invite them to come to our house. To start with it was almost always couples with a male factor problem. The men agonised over whether they could love a child they were not genetically connected to and whether that child could and would love them. Walter’s lack of shame about his infertility and his obviously very loving relationship with our three children (one from my first marriage and two sperm donor conceived) helped to answer these questions and some of the most devoted DI dads we know are men who came to see us many years ago now. More recently couples needing egg donation have sought reassurance that this is an acceptable way to create a family and guidance about how and when to share information with family, friends and ultimately their children. Occasionally it is parents of donor conceived young adults who have come to the difficult decision to be open with their grown-up children…knowing that the news would be a shock but wanting support in finding the best way possible to let them know the truth without undermining loving relationships in the family. We saw such a couple on Friday.
Whatever the situation, it is always a privilege to be trusted with such intimate details about the life of a family where such struggles have taken place and where men and women are putting their heart and soul into ‘getting it right’ for their children.