UPDATE AT 10th October 2014: These films are now available to buy (on one DVD) from the DCN website http://www.dcnetwork.org/products/product/different-story-revisited-dvd
At long last I am able to announce that DC Network’s two new films of donor conceived children and young people between the ages 0f 9 and 26 are finished and will be available to buy from the website dcnetwork.org very soon. These films, titled A Different Story…revisited, replace the first A Different Story film made in 2003. So much has changed in eleven years and the new films reflect the thoughts, feelings and experiences of young people conceived by egg, sperm, embryo and double donation into lesbian and solo mum families as well as families headed by heterosexual couples.
DCN has made two films because they are used as part of the Preparation for Donor Conception Parenthood workshops which are focused separately on heterosexual couples and solo mums and lesbian couples. Although all are considering donor conception as a way to create or add to a family the needs of each family type are different. Lesbian couples and solo mums want to hear from young people growing up in families where there are two mums (gay dads are not yet represented in DCN but this is likely to change in the next few years) or a woman parenting alone. The seven 9 to 18 year olds who appear in the non-traditional family film talk frankly about what ‘family’ means to them, how they explain about their family and donation type to friends and the relationship that they have with those who who are parenting them, whether they are genetically related or not. Prominent in this film are Ellie and Helen, two lovely sixteen year old girls, one from a lesbian family and the other with a solo mum, who discovered that they were half-siblings when they were about eleven. They get on hugely well and refer to each other as sisters, only going into detail about their different families with those who are close enough to need to know.
The wider age range, 11 – 26, included in the film of young people growing up in heterosexual couple families allows viewers to understand better the differences in understanding about what donor conception means, as children grow and mature. Tom, who was 14 when he appeared in the first film and is now 26, is able to reflect on his earlier self, family and relationships and to understand donor conception from the perspective of his much loved dad who died two years ago. Egg donation conceived Octavia, 20, talks about a time when she was unsure who her ‘real’ mum was and how her parents helped her through this by finding someone supportive outside the family for her to talk to.
What is clear from all the young people filmed, and indeed the many who wanted to be included but there was not space to fit in, is that the quality of the relationships in their family – whatever and whoever that consists of – has made all the difference to how they feel about what is an entirely ‘normal’ family to them. All are happy to talk with anyone they encounter who is interested in their beginnings and some seek opportunities to do so as they are proud of their family and enjoy the attention. Gracie, 16, the one young woman who is currently not entirely comfortable with her ‘difference’ within her family is fulsome in the praise of her parents who have been open from the start and support her unstintingly.
The two films, used separately at workshops, will be sold on the same DVD so that current and potential parents in all family types have the opportunity to see how children raised in different families feel. Having got to know quite well all the young people who took part, my sense is that they share so much more than the different family and donation types might lead you to think.