On Wednesday I’m going West to talk with the patient group at the Bristol Centre for Reproductive Medicine. This is something I’ve done a couple of times before and as on the last occasion I’ll be joined by a DI dad who lives locally. People get very anxious about donor conception and there’s nothing like meeting with people who have been there, done it and got the kids (so to speak).
I was struck once again today when responding to a post on Fertility Friends forum how people almost always assume that when they tell people – it could be relatives, friends or the child themselves – about donor conception, that this is bad news. Of course for heterosexual couples and most single women it is not the way they would have chosen to have a family. For most people, an integral part of loving your partner is wanting to have a child with them. Finding out that this is not going to be possible is a loss that needs to be mourned like any other. But once the grieving is done – or well underway anyway – and it is time to think about ways in which it is possible to have a family, then donor conception can become a very positive second choice that does not have to be second best. And having to think so very hard about having a family can be very good for parents in committing themselves to each other and the future of life together with children. It mostly weeds out the relationships that weren’t going to stand the test of time anyway…and where parents with donor conceived children do split up both parents tend to remain very closely in touch with their children, whether or not they are genetically connected to them.
So the fact of donor conception is not bad news. It is joyful news that should be shared with others as such and with a child as simply the way they came into the family. Children have no preconceptions about DI or egg donation. Our history is not their history. They are happy to accept that mummy and daddy needed some help from a kind man or kind woman to help make them. Questions will certainly come later, but parents who are confident, comfortable and able to listen to children and young people’s feelings without being defensive or overly emotional, are likely to find that bumpy patches can be overcome without long term hurt setting in.
That’s what I’ll be talking about in Bristol. But first I’m going to have a damn good lunch with my sister!