Counselling and Going Abroad

A really hot Monday morning and I’m off to visit the Network family who have lived the longest (apart from my own family of course!) with children who are conceived both with and without donor conception…in this case, egg donation.  This interview is one of a series I am doing for a new booklet about and for mixed origins families.  Last week I talked on the ‘phone to a single woman, I’ll call her Stephanie, whose double donation child was conceived abroad.  She has an older child from a previous relationship.  It was a fascinating conversation as Stephanie was willing to be very open about her desperation for a second child and how these feelings had narrowed her perspective to the point where she would have done anything to have him.  She had the support of a UK clinic (the one she had previously attended for several IVF attempts) in going abroad but they did not offer any counselling around the prospect of double donation and how conception abroad would put any child she had in a different position from children conceived in the UK.  When I asked if counselling at this point might have made a difference she said she thought it would…it might not have stopped her but it would have helped her understand what she was taking on.

She is certainly taking it on now by being open with both her children, having developed some lovely, age appropriate language to talk to them both and having some counselling sessions to help face and manage the reality of her youngest child’s situation.  I can’t help admiring her courage and forthrightness in being willing to be so honest with herself and her determination to put her children’s interests first.

But Stephanie’s story does raise significant issues about going abroad for donor conception and maybe even more for the role of UK clinics when they know individuals and couples are going down this path.  Some clinic counsellors do see women as a matter of course when they are known to be contemplating going abroad, but they are rare.  Much more likely clinics see it as ‘not their business’ or costing them money.  They may even stop their counsellors from offering sessions.  All clinics are supposed to concern themselves with ‘the welfare of the child’.  Sticking your fingers in your ears and going La, la, la should not be option where the future of a child is concerned.   How come it suddenly isn’t their business when the clinic is supporting and doing pre-egg collection testing in the UK but embryo transfer takes place overseas?


About oliviasview

Co-founder and now Practice Consultant at Donor Conception Network. Mother to two donor conceived adults and a son conceived without help in my first marriage.
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One Response to Counselling and Going Abroad

  1. Jane Carrington says:

    Hi Olivia, I have a son of 29 conceived through donor treatment, I have spoken to you on several occasions when I first found the DC Network, I was incredibly upset as I had followed medical advice and kept my sons conception a secret for many years. Talking with yourself and finding the Network has given me incredible personal support. While I do not have many contacts at the network and do come to some of the yearly meetings, read all the newsletters etc. I have no actual people I have contact with in the network- this may be due to the different approach to the treatment at the time- fortunately I do have an incredible network of understanding friends who have been there for me when I have needed to chat. My son and I have a wonderful open dialogue, while there is no longer a secret between us there are a limited number of people who know – his ‘choice’- and he has become more relaxed with the confidentiality around this information as he gets older, he takes an interest in meetings I have attended, and I keep him informed of events.

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