Talking to your child about donor conception

It is important that children of donor conception are told about their origins and that you are the ones to tell them. Naturally you don’t want to cause your child discomfort or upset, and you might have to confront your own fears, but telling is important.

Here are some telling tips:

  • The first thing to know is that you must talk to your child about how they were conceived. No matter how well intentioned, secrets hurt families. If your child senses that you are embarrassed or uncomfortable with having a donor-conceived child, they can experience shame and feelings of low self worth.
  • It’s never too early to start talking about donor conception. Many parents start talking to their children about how they were conceived before they are talking or can understand speech. They don’t want their children to ever remember ‘being told’.
  • Children love hearing stories about the day they were born, and donor conception can be explained in similar ways. You can tell your child the story or you can create a scrapbook or baby book that tells the story.
  • Stories or explanations of donor conception should always be framed by love and pride. “Mummy and Daddy loved you before you were born.” “Mummy and Daddy wanted you so much.” Draw the child into your feelings of love and your pride at how you came together.
  • Make clear distinctions between what is a parent and what is a donor. The donor may have given them their eye colour or their athletic ability, but their parents gave them comfort and home and a place in the family, and love them with parent love, the biggest love in the world.
  • As your child grows and they understand better the issues of donor conception, they may express fears or insecurities. It’s important to acknowledge and talk about your child’s fears with them. Reassure them, comfort them and stress how much they are loved.
  • It is perfectly normal for parents of donor-conceived children to have fears and insecurities, and it is very important that these are dealt with before you speak to your child about their conception. One sign that you may have unresolved issues is if you find yourself delaying talking about it with your child. But it needs to be dealt with. If your child picks up on your fears it can make them fearful and insecure. Getting help for yourself can be the most important step in the process of telling.

For more information, click through to the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority website.

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