I went to see our lovely grand-daughter yesterday so didn’t have a chance to write about our wonderful weekend filming twelve donor conceived children and young people. Throughout Saturday and Sunday parents arrived at our house in N.London bringing their donor conceived children from as far afield as Cheltenham, Birmingham and Exeter. Two or three over eighteens made their own way but hour by hour they all rang the doorbell and came in to wait to be interviewed and filmed by Kat, our film-maker. Pizzas were eaten, crisps and biscuits disappeared by the bucket-load whilst one by one each child or young person disappeared to different corners of the house to be asked questions and have their answers recorded on film. Our participants included one of the oldest egg donor conceived people (a ripe old 20 year old!), two young people conceived by embryo donation, one into a single mum family and another with heterosexual couple parents, a boy and a girl each being raised in lesbian mum families, a pair of 12 year old boys conceived by sperm donation being raised in families where their siblings are either conceived with a different donor or without help from a donor at all, and last, but definitely not least, two sixteen year old girls who share a donor and refer to each other as sisters, although they are growing up in different families. Each and all were happy to talk about how they feel about being donor conceived, what they remembered about being told, when they first understood what it meant, what if anything they tell their friends about it and how they feel about the prospect (and actuality for two of them) of having half-siblings.
There is nothing so immediate and vital as film, as DC Network has found with the first two DVDs (then videos) they made over ten years ago. A Different Story, which includes Zannah and Will when they were 16 and 19, made a huge impact on parents and professionals when it first came out but as all the young people featured were conceived by sperm donation into heterosexual couple families, it has been clear for some time that a new film that included all family and donation types was needed. DCN will now have separate films to show at Preparation for Donor Conception workshops for single women and lesbians and those for heterosexual couples and by the end of April there will be a combined film available to buy from the DCN website. In the meantime A Different Story and the Telling and Talking film, which features parents and children in all family and donation types talking about Telling, are available from dc.network.org
It was a huge pleasure and privilege to meet so many confident and articulate young people over the two days. Huge thanks are due to them and to their parents for giving up hours of their precious weekend to be part of this project. I know that future donor conception parents will be immensely grateful.
And another resource for potential and actual parents likely to come out later this year is the booklet that is being written by donor conceived young adult Sam. I have just seen the latest draft of his thoughts on being donor conceived, the morals, ethics and law around donor conception, the end of anonymity; his views on siblings and donors and what they mean to him and advice on ‘telling’ (basically just do it) and much more. Written in the very readable and humorous style you might expect from a recent journalism graduate, Sam doesn’t avoid the difficult questions but neither does he prescribe any particular practice either…except for complete honesty with donor conceived children, something he feels is their inalienable right. Can’t wait to publish this.