Tomorrow is the 30th birthday of our first donor conceived child – our now very adult son Will. Apart from having yet another child pass a landmark birthday that firmly places his parents in the oldie camp, it is interesting to think about what remains the same and what is now very different for those contemplating donor conception from when we first embarked on it. I was also asked to think about this earlier today for an introduction to an article from the DC Network archives that is being re-printed for its relevance for todays parents.
What remains the same are the anxieties that potential and actual parents have about bringing a child into the world conceived in a ‘different’ way plus issues to do with bonding and rejection and fears about openness and telling. What is very different is a cultural and social climate where donor conception is discussed in the media and endless information and contact with others is available via the internet. That, and the resources that have been developed by DC Network over the years to support families. When Walter and I were contemplating using a donor there was just one book, Robert Snowden’s A Gift of a Child, to help normalise our situation and guide us with language to start telling our children. And that is another enormous change. Walter and I were very unusual in deciding that it would be wrong to keep the fact of donor conception from our children. Now ‘telling’ is the default position with those keeping a secret finding themselves on the back foot and having to defend their position.
Both Will and Zannah, despite their different attitudes to finding out information about their donors or half-siblings (basically Will isn’t interested and Zannah is) are clear that being told about their conception from an early age made them feel respected, loved and wanted. They certainly were…and are our beloved children, as is our older son from my first marriage.
Happy Birthday Will.