Is Fertility Friends really such a good friend?

I was chucked off a couple of years ago for being too blunt (the actual reason given was for advertising DC Network, but I had been a thorn in their side for years).  I never rubbished or attacked anyone personally but I was sometimes very challenging of the unofficial but dominant culture of this fertility forum that posts have to be kept fluffy and light and that all decisions made are equal.  For instance, pointing out that conceiving a child abroad might not be in a child’s best interest is not allowed.  Neither is getting anywhere near asking someone who has decided not to ‘tell’ about donor conception to give logical reasons for doing so.  Even pointing out research or factual information is frowned upon if there is the slightest chance anyone would be upset by it.  The separation of strictly moderated Telling and Non-Telling threads completely disables any reasonable debate between people who might just learn something from one another.  Of course personal attacks and harsh judgements are always wrong, but these days every opinion has to be hedged around with carefully worded acknowledgements that ‘others will think differently and that no-ones opinion is wrong.’  Well, actually when it comes to donor conception, there are some courses of action that definitely disadvantage children and it should be OK to point this out…kindly, supportively but clearly.  But FF is simply into positive reinforcement, help, hope, hype, any way to get a baby is OK.

Children conceived abroad quite often carry characteristics of their donor that reflect their country of origin. Love is not always enough when raising a donor conceived child.  There are risks and responsibilities.  Children sometimes need lots of questions answered.  Those who find out their origins by donor conception later in life often feel betrayed.  Children of solo mums sometimes really want a dad and would like their mum to marry.  Children conceived by embryo donation do sometimes wonder who they are and where they belong.  Occasionally parents do not bond with their donor conceived children.   These, and many other topics are taboo on FF.

Is it really a kindness not to allow people to know these things? Mixed feelings and experiences are normal in everything in life.  Can it really be in peoples best interest that they are protected from understanding all sides to the incredibly important decisions they are making around creating a new person?  This is about them but it is also about a child or children as well.  They are going to have to live with the consequences of the decisions that their parent or parents have made.  If people are only exposed to the false sentimentality and blinkered perspective available on FF, then real life with a donor conceived child could come as a terrible shock to them. I write as an individual, a mother of donor conceived adults, but also in this context as someone who responds to the many cries for help DC Network gets from families who find themselves in trouble down the line.  The relationships that break up leaving a child not only grieving for their lost family but also untold about donor conception and usually with one parent desperate to ‘tell’ and the other not.  No adult can know if separation or divorce is going to be part of their future but they can take responsibility for telling their child early so that they don’t have to face learning about their beginnings just when the family is falling apart. DC Network has never shied away from facing the difficult stuff.  FF could learn a thing or two.

Update at 8th February 2015 Unfortunately someone has been sending private messages on Fertility Friends to people who post on the NOT Telling thread.  The intimation is that it is DC Network organised.  This is absolutely untrue.  It would be a stupid and counterproductive thing to do.  In any case DCN welcomes those who have yet to make up their minds about whether ‘telling’ is right for them.  No-one in this state of mind would ever receive anything less than a warm welcome at DCN.  Those who have made up their minds are unlikely to approach the organisation.  Sadly this action has now led FF management to announce that a private room will be set up for non-tellers to talk to each other completely secluded from information and debates which may help them understand their child’s perspective on the matter.

…and at 9th February  It would be laughable if it were not so sad.  Management pitted against Not Tellers attempting to exercise what they see as THEIR right to free speech.  No such right given to the Tellers, however, who must keep their opinions to themselves for fear of upsetting these delicate ladies who are so insecure in their decision about not telling that they cannot be exposed even to the innocently stated personal Pro-telling position of Mr Anthony Reid himself.   Read and gawp!


About oliviasview

Co-founder and now Practice Consultant at Donor Conception Network. Mother to two donor conceived adults and a son conceived without help in my first marriage.
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15 Responses to Is Fertility Friends really such a good friend?

  1. sandra says:

    I have had a similar experience with FF. I wrote something factual in a very non-threatening manner and it was moved to another section, in case someone who didn’t like what I’d said came across it and found it upsetting. I really couldn’t see the logic of that. Supporting peoples’ decisions doesn’t mean wishing away or falsifying facts/research. As it is, these people with their heads in the sand are going to find it much harder to answer their offsprings’ questions down the line. Much better to be in full possession of the facts, and then own their decision, so that they can defend it to their children if the need arises.

  2. marilynn says:

    You kicked me off your site for the same reasons tho. I could have written this post its so much the same as i think.

    • oliviasview says:

      I’ll second that Sandra.

    • oliviasview says:

      If I had kicked you off my site Marilynn you would not be able to post now. You informed me that you would not be responding to posts any longer. Welcome back.

      • marilynn says:

        Well that is hospitable of you. Thank you. That was hasty of me then. I’ve read quietly for months. I enjoyed this post and think it was shallow of them to cut you out. It was short sighted of them to stop you from giving important info to people.

  3. Bothways says:

    I agree with everything said here. Honesty with people considering dc is a kindness. Fortunately I did not go down the anonymous donor route as there was donor sperm available in the uk but it was more luck than judgement at the time. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be for my family if we had done this without thinking through the consequences of never being able to track down my children’s biological ancestors.

    • oliviasview says:

      Thank you for taking the time to comment Bothways. You are right, it is often more luck than judgement that people end up in the UK. Clinics are mostly very poor at pointing out the differences between conceiving at home or abroad.

  4. More overseas clinics should suggest, insist on(?) counselling prior to providing treatment, not to dissuade people, but to ensure they’ve acknowledged the implications of their decisions for them any child/ren conceived, in the present and in the future. I’m not anti-overseas treatment for informed parents to be (unless it’s because people think there are no donors in the UK.)

    Another excellent Olivia post!


    • oliviasview says:

      Thank you Tracey. I too am not against overseas donation treatment if recipients understand exactly what they are taking on. However, I think it is very hard to really get a grip on this when all you are longing for is a baby…and there, very often, lies the problem. Good preparation and counselling is vital to kindly and supportively face the consequences of different types of decision making so that real understanding is facilitated.

  5. My parent's donor is my father says:

    I posted a link to this blog entry at the Anonymous Father’s Day facebook page (

    “Putting aside the philosophical differences on the use of ‘donor conception’: Giving credit and acknowledgment for the proactive efforts in the UK to help prevent the use of international anonymous ‘donors’ (by the National Gamete Donor Trust and the Donor Conception Network)”

  6. My parent's donor is my father says:

    Thank you Olivia.

  7. oliviasview says:

    Thank YOU My Parent’s Donor is my Father.

  8. marilynn says:

    All quite surreal. K’s here too.
    Oliva for public health reasons I’ve harped on the fact that donors and their offspring are just the same as all other bio parents and offspring so its dangerous not to record them on their offspring’s birth records, but am I right in thinking the UK is the only country that even tries to record their identity along with their offspring as a public health record? Granted its not on the birth record where it should be for things to be equal but it is recorded and they are keeping track. Do you know of anywhere else in the world that has that government mandated tracking like that? Is your organization trying to convince governments of countries nearby to do the same thing?

  9. gsmwc02 says:

    The infertility community can be a sensitive group within itself on many topics. But it’s such a sensitive subject to all of us where it sometimes unfortunately brings out the worst in people.

    I’m so sorry that closed minded views shut you out. Having difficult conversations that make people uncomfortable is the only way we can make progress.

  10. oliviasview says:

    The UK is one of very few countries that have a central register recording all recipients, donors and children. Most States in Australia and New Zealand are the others. Yes of course we work where we can (limited resources) with other countries to encourage them to set up similar registries. Spain has the legislation to allow it but just hasn’t carried it out. Walter and I are going to Switzerland on Friday to talk to doctors and policy makers about allowing egg donation there. Currently their citizens requiring this fertility assistance go to Spain or Czech Republic. We will of course promote the importance of holding a central register as well. Switzerland is one of a handful of countries in Europe where identifiable sperm donation is possible, but currently no egg donation at all.

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