I’ve written lots recently about how we need to save UK Donor Link (and we still do, very urgently), how parents and children can get support at Family Futures and about sharing information with children about donor conception. At my stage of life it’s very easy to forget what it was like back at the beginning, when Walter and I first discovered that if we were going to have children together then he wouldn’t be able to have a genetic connection to them…how we felt…how we managed. A ‘phone call to the office yesterday brought it all back. A man, we’ll call him Jack, rang to say that he had just found out that, following extensive and invasive investigations, he had no sperm at all and would need the help of a donor if he and his girlfriend were to become parents. He was clearly shaken to the core. It seems he is a high flier in his job, his relationship is good, he and his partner have a house and good income and he had suddenly come up against an aspect of his life that is not only going badly but he had no control over either. He wasn’t angry, just distressed and not knowing where to turn. We are glad he turned to us and Nina talked with him gently (we admired his courage for having picked up the ‘phone in the first place) and after listening and giving support she suggested he come on one of our Preparation for Donor Conception Parenthood workshops. He probably will but in the meantime hopefully will gain from reading accounts in the For Men section of our website where men who have found themselves infertile and then gone on to become parents by DC, have written their stories.
Also on the website and sometimes overlooked these days are a series of letters from experienced parents to those just starting down the road of donor conception. They can be found in the main menu under Downloads and then under the rather contraceptive title of Planning a Family leaflets (must change that). I wrote the first two, Letter from Olivia to would-be DI Mums and Letter from Olivia to would-be DI Parents about Telling back in the early 2000s as a result of a fertility nurse telling me that she wished she had something to give would-be parents when they received the devastating news that they would not be able to conceive without the help of a donor. Walter then wrote Letter from Walter to would-be DI dads setting out the male perspective on infertility and donor conception, followed by Letter fromRachel to would-be egg donation parents, Letter from Emily to would-be Single Mums and Letter from Bridget and Andrea to would-be lesbian parents. All except the last one were updated in 2005 when anonymity for donors ended in the UK. I went back and re-read them recently and they are just as relevant as ever for those at the beginning of their journey. Sometimes it just helps to know that others have felt the same way before you and that you are not alone. Technology may change, the choices these days may be more complex but human emotions remain much the same over time.