Rome was wonderful, as expected, but we didn’t expect to leave that city in pouring rain and return to a sunny UK with temperatures of 25C. Very hard to get back to work with my office at home, the temptations of the garden beckoning and those dreary weeks of rain and cold to make up for.
One project that is exciting me at the moment is helping to organise a wonderful half day event being put on by PROGAR (Project group on Assisted Reproduction). This is a social work based group of professionals, including academics, representatives from British Infertility Counselling Association (BICA), British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF), DC Network (DCN), CAFCASS and one or two others. I have been DC Network’s representative on the group for many years now. The original aim of the organisation was to campaign for the ending of anonymity in donor conception, but now that this has been achieved we monitor the work of the HFEA, contribute to consultations on fertility related matters and most importantly promote good practice, support and counselling for those undergoing fertility procedures (particularly those that are donor related) and for donor conceived people. Progar have always had a focus on the well-being of the whole family and because it was felt that this was under threat in the current financial and political climate, we wanted to put on an event that brought the central importance of this approach to the attention of policy makers and others in a position to have an impact on practice. We also wanted to take advantage of the presence in the UK of New Zealander Professor Ken Daniels whose attention to the importance of focusing on families rather than the recipient couple or individual, or indeed solely on donor conceived people, has been so influential on thinking and practice in many places in the world.
In recognition of the importance of this event The Nuffield Foundation have kindly given us a conference room and laid on refreshments and the Society for Reproductive and Infant Psychology have contributed to other costs. Our programme is now set with Ken in the starring role talking about the family-building approach to donor conception, Marilyn Crawshaw from York University and UK DonorLink speaking on what helps and hinders donors and clinic staff in completing donor information to be released to parents and Jane Ellis from DC Network sharing some of the details and outcomes from the Preparation for Donor Conception Parenthood workshops that DCN has been running for the past three years. At the end of the morning the speakers will be joined by three donor conceived adults who will share their experiences of family life from the perspective of having been told about their conception at different ages.
What is sad is that I cannot invite any of you reading this to come along, as I’m sure many of you would like to do. The venue is small and the aim is not to reinforce the views of the already converted but to influence those either not yet convinced of the family building approach or remind those being persuaded away from it by other pressures, that there is NOTHING more important…for the well-being of everyone.