Part 2: Discovering your true parentage as an older child or adult
You may initially be worried about your older child ‘finding out’ that they have a different biological mother or father (or both). How do you cope with this? What can you do to make sure they don’t go off the rails or have an emotional ‘meltdown’ of some kind?
This is a completely normal concern for loving parents to have. If the right steps are taken to educate your child about donation early enough in their life, you shouldn’t ever find that you encounter the sort of serious emotional problems and grievances depicted in soap story lines and mainstream media headlines.
The Daily Mail recently published a story about several older women who only discovered their true parentage during their adult years. As upsetting and damaging as the revelations have been to all of the women concerned, there was a common thread running through all of their stories: They were all told about their donor fathers during stressful or traumatic situations, such as arguments or family crises.
This goes some way to explaining the deep emotional pain and anger that each of them feels towards their parents and the wider fertility community. Had they been introduced to the donation process from a young age, it’s likely that the news wouldn’t have had such a negative impact on their lives. The natural adult reaction to such news is to immediately seek out your biological parents, which the featured women did.
But this search for closure is not the type of dramatic response that you can expect from younger children. A child’s reaction to such news is still one of curiosity, but is not driven by the need to feel as though they belong. In a loving and supportive family environment most children are already aware that they belong. Even for older children in their teenage years, the anger and pain can be kept under control by having such discussions in familiar surroundings and a calm, supportive environment.
The Donor Conception Network provides support to families faced with telling an older child or adult about their biological parents.
Growing loving families
The days of anonymous donation are, fortunately, long gone. Since 2005 children conceived using donated sperm and eggs have been legally entitled to request information about the identity of their donor parent(s) from The Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA). Since 2009 donors have also had the right to request information about their own donations from HFEA, including the number of children born from their donated sperm/eggs, and the years of birth and sex of those children. Donors still have no legal or financial obligations to any of the children conceived using their sperm or eggs, and they are not classed as the legal parent or guardian of any of the children.
There is also help out there for those seeking to discover the identity of their biological parents. The Donor Conceived Register was set up in 2004 to help donors, and children conceived using donated sperm or eggs, to submit their DNA in order to find a match.
Using donated sperm, eggs and embryos can help to create and grow loving families. It should never be the reason they are torn apart.
To find out more about growing your own loving family, and to discuss your donation options, call us on 01992 78 50 60 or contact us to arrange an appointment with one of our independent counsellors.