Although I have stepped back from the front line of DC Network, one of the continuing great pleasures of my long association with the organisation is the contact I have with people overseas. Recently Kate Bourne the author of the lovely book Sometimes it Takes Three to Make a Baby emailed to ask if I knew any publications to help donors tell their own children about their role in helping another family come into being or for the children themselves. Kate now works for the Victorian Assisted Reproduction Treatment Authority (VARTA) in Melbourne Australia and she says they are increasingly being approached by donors with requests for help of this sort. Sadly, I had to tell her that I am not aware of any publications of this kind, the only resource I know being a small amount of information and guidance on the web site of the National Gamete Donation Trust. I suspect that the new book Finding our Families, being published by the Donor Sibling Registry (DSR) in December will include something of this sort, but I can’t be sure.
Providing support and resources for donors and their families certainly chimes with the current zeitgeist in the donor conception world. Recognising donors as real people and for their role in the foundation, if not actually the development, of families is something that prospective and actual parents are increasingly understanding. It may not feel comfortable but it is real and needs to be managed, particularly for those people who have conceived in the UK since 2005 and whose children are going to be able to know at 18 the identity of the man or woman who gave their gametes so generously to help bring them into being.
Kate also drew my attention to a series of short films of donor conceived adults talking, taken at a recent meeting for prospective parents in Melbourne. As usual, there are a range of views and the two who had not found out about being donor conceived until they were adults, have quite mixed feelings. The two others had been told from a young age. Both have now met their donors, something that remains unusual although not unknown in the UK. What came over very clearly is how very important it is for parents to deal with their own stuff BEFORE having their children. One girl was very tearful as she talked about a situation that continues to this day where part of her family still do not knowing that she is donor conceived. She assumes that her parents are ashamed of using donor conception and in turn she has had to battle with the shame also. Shame. Have a look. They make an impression http://www.varta.org.au/experiences-of-donor-conception/