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On the Mumsnet Donor Conception forum, you can discuss sperm and egg donation with people in the same situation.

Donor conception

Do children who are conceived with donor sperm tend to struggle with this?

34 replies

TetherEndOfMy · 14/02/2023 00:10

It's something I am considering, but I'm worried about the ethics of it and the effect it could have on the child. Does anyone here have any experience?

OP posts:
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TunicFox · 15/02/2023 17:11

Like most things in life, it's complicated - some do and some don't.

One thing that's for certain and widely acknowledged nowadays, is that children will fare much better if they are told early and often about their conception.

Children who are lied to/ not told, and then find out later down the line, are likely to experience a lot of trauma. There are whole instagram/ Facebook groups and websites for children and adults who are traumatised by this.

But for children who know from a young age, it's all they ever know, and they are able to weave it into their life story and appreciate how loved and wanted they are. There are a lot of positive stories and exploring these has really helped me to come to terms with this and feel OK about it.

It's also an idea to consider using an 'ID release' donor, which means that the child will get identifying information on the donor when they turn 18, should they wish to find out more about the person. This is compulsory anyway in the UK, you have to go abroad if you want an anonumous donor.

I'd recommend looking up Donor Conception Network if you are considering this route - there is so much support there.

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Particularprick · 15/02/2023 17:14

I don't have any experience op but it's a subject I'm really interested in. This article is a decade old now but I found it interesting and am on the hunt for more recent stuff slate.com/human-interest/2010/06/new-study-shows-sperm-donor-kids-suffer.html

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Particularprick · 15/02/2023 17:16

This is more recent.

'A total of 143 responses were collected. Approximately 94 percent were conceived anonymously and almost 85 percent reported a shift in their “sense of self” upon learning about the nature of their conception and about half sought psychological help in order to cope. Nearly 74 percent said that they often or very often think about the nature of their conception and 62.2 percent felt the exchange of money for donor gametes was wrong. Almost 43 percent believed that genetic testing companies ought to offer more complete information about using their products even though 90.2 percent believed being fully informed was impossible. '

bioethics.hms.harvard.edu/journal/donor-technology

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TunicFox · 17/02/2023 14:57

Particularprick · 15/02/2023 17:16

This is more recent.

'A total of 143 responses were collected. Approximately 94 percent were conceived anonymously and almost 85 percent reported a shift in their “sense of self” upon learning about the nature of their conception and about half sought psychological help in order to cope. Nearly 74 percent said that they often or very often think about the nature of their conception and 62.2 percent felt the exchange of money for donor gametes was wrong. Almost 43 percent believed that genetic testing companies ought to offer more complete information about using their products even though 90.2 percent believed being fully informed was impossible. '

bioethics.hms.harvard.edu/journal/donor-technology

I just wanted to point out that with 94% of the respondents in this study conceived anonymously, it isn't really reflective of the current situation in the UK (if that is where you are).

In the UK, it is no loner possible to get an anonymous sperm donor through a clinic. All donors now have to allow the clinic to provide identifiable information when the child turns 18.

I would be interested to see the impact of this and an equivalent study where children are told early about their conception and able to contact the donor on turning 18.

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sydneysunset · 17/02/2023 15:00

Presumably it’s the same if there’s an egg donor? A friend of mine got an egg donor /IVF in Denmark. I think it’s anonymous there but not sure.

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catchthedog · 19/02/2023 19:54

there's a Facebook group for adults who were donor conceived. it might be worth reading in there as some do feel quite strongly about it. the main thing is to avoid anonymous donation, and avoid someone who has had loads of children as they feel like just a a number.

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Fenella123 · 19/02/2023 20:16

It's a complex question because people often think more about questions of parentage as they get older - not only when they have their own children, but when they look back and draw parallels between their own lives and personality and their parents', or even when they see a friend tracking down a biological parent.

So you have to talk to people of all ages (and people who have had absent or unknown father's and adoptees, IMO, as well as donor conceived kids) to get the full picture.

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khaa2091 · 19/02/2023 20:21

My 1 yr old was conceived via an identifiable donor. I am a single parent and don't volunteer the information but am open about it if directly asked.
I deliberately chose a UK donor (and due to Covid there were about 12 available nationally at the time). The information that I have is in her baby book and my plan is just to make it part of her life story....

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Eattheeel · 19/02/2023 20:55

My DS (just turned 15) was donor conceived, in the UK, so will be able to contact his donor when 18.

I would best characterise him as being completely uninterested! We made it part of his story from babyhood (through books from Donor Conception Network, and also attending Donor Conception Network events). He has a vague curiosity about the potential for meeting his siblings, thinks that will be cool, and when I ask if he will meet his sperm donor he says 'yeah, might do one day'. But it's SO not an issue, or part of his identity. We're fortunate that he's very chilled, very secure, very stable (might have to thank the donor for that!) and I'm aware that things might change at different stages of his life, but I honestly do not think its had, or will have, a negative impact for him.

We've stopped with the Donor Conception meetings when he was about 10 as his genetic origins are so not a big deal for him that we were scared that banging on about it might make him think it should be! (We would of course revisit if he expressed an interest, or started to struggle with it). We actually have a pen-sketch and goodwill letter from his donor which we have asked him if he wants to read but he's never got around to it! But it's not a topic of conversation he/we avoid - he might randomly say 'learnt about eye colour in biology today, worked out my donor must have had blue eyes' or I might say 'that's funny you are so anti-smoking, cause your donor mentioned he was too in his letter'. So it's part of his life, but a very very small part.

I've just asked him how often he thinks about being donor conceived and what he thinks about it. His replies (verbatim) were "Once every 4 months" "It doesn't really affect me". And then he went back to his gaming.

So no teenage angst here!

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Roterosen · 20/02/2023 15:01

In the UK, it is no loner possible to get an anonymous sperm donor through a clinic. All donors now have to allow the clinic to provide identifiable information when the child turns 18.

It must be difficult for a child if one of their biological parents are unidentifiable.

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RunningOnHope · 25/02/2023 17:23

We are a same sex couple so it will always be obvious that our daughter was donor conceived. She's currently 20 months old and we've got a book from the donor conception network that explains in a toddler appropriate way how she was conceived. She loves the book, knows the word 'donor' to mean a kind man who helps people like Mummy and Mama to make a baby. It's part of how she understands herself even at this very early age and there will never be any psychological shock or adjustment needed - which is where the harm comes. So I'm not concerned but prepared to accept all her feelings in future whatever they might be.

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MiddleParking · 25/02/2023 17:29

A friend of mine (in her twenties) was donor conceived before the law around anonymity changed, so she isn’t able to identify her biological father. She hates it - both never having had a father, and not being able to know anything about half of her background.

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Fififafa · 25/02/2023 17:44

I knew a young man that was conceived using donor sperm and wasn’t told about it until he was an adult. He doesn’t know who his biological father is and the fallout has been horrendous.
He no longer speaks to either his mum or the man he thought was his father.
He said that he felt lost and like he had been cheated out of knowing his real father. He saw his donor as his “dad”.
It’s all so sad. My advice would be to make sure your DC knows all about it from a young age and please don’t go down the anonymous route. The donor conceived child should be given the option of contacting their biological mother or father, when they are of age. It’s their right.

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Reddahlias · 25/02/2023 18:01

The donor conceived child should be given the option of contacting their biological mother or father, when they are of age. It’s their right.

I agree. It's not just their right but the donor is 50% them!

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Nocutenamesleft · 26/02/2023 19:43

Friends of mine are gay and both women. Their children were conceived by donor

Both kids have been told right from the start. They don't even question it

It's just how it is.

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Dzogchen · 26/02/2023 19:51

Our friends have 11 year old twins conceived via overseas sperm donor. They’ve always known. Their main interest so far is whether they would be legally able to play football for the donor’s home country.

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Reddahlias · 26/02/2023 20:00

Nocutenamesleft · 26/02/2023 19:43

Friends of mine are gay and both women. Their children were conceived by donor

Both kids have been told right from the start. They don't even question it

It's just how it is.

They may well question it as they get older. I cannot imagine that a person would NOT want/need to know who both their biological parents are. Each biological parent contributes half of all their genetic makeup!

I would certainly be very curious.

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ashleysilver · 26/02/2023 20:11

My young adult dd was conceived with donor sperm and has always known. Like pp we attended Donor Conception Network meetings and she had their story book when she was little.

It was never an issue for her. She views it as something about her background, like having grown up in London or having a parent from a different country.

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Silveroriole · 02/03/2023 17:48

I was donor conceived many years ago and found out about my donor father and many half siblings as an adult. I'm very happy with the situation but feel strongly that children should grow up knowing about it and be able to contact their donor if they feel the need. DC yes, anonymous donor no.

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ReadersD1gest · 02/03/2023 17:53

when I ask if he will meet his sperm donor he says 'yeah, might do one day'. But it's SO not an issue, or part of his identity
That sounds so very peculiar. The other part of his parentage is literally part of his identity.

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sydneysunset · 02/03/2023 18:04

That sounds so very peculiar. The other part of his parentage is literally part of his identity

it’s possible he’s feeling awkward about discussing it and is trying to protect his mother’s feelings.

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AngelDelightUK · 02/03/2023 18:08

In some ways, how is it any different from women who fall pregnant and the Dads run off. That’s potentially more harmful

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GoodbyeMrChips · 02/03/2023 18:14

My two are donor conceived and we are same sex parents so it is pretty obvious!

We have always been open with them, and like pp, had toddler books from the donor conception network. We have talked about it frequently and they have always known that they will have the opportunity to find out about siblings at 16, and the donor at 18.

I do feel that it is important that children have the opportunity to know their identity and biological roots and I wouldn’t have had children if finding out about the donor was not an option. I don’t think the system of anonymous donors is fair on the child. I worked for many years in the adoption field and am aware that this is an issue that they may find difficult at some stage.

The children are 10 and 12 now. DS (12) has always been interested and curious and asked lots of questions. He is certain that he wants to find out and meet the donor if possible and we would be totally supportive of this. My DD is totally disinterested and always has been, but of course, that may change. she has always said she isn’t bothered about meeting him, and that is obviously fine too.

So no issues or worries here and we will continue to be open and honest, and support them as much as we can.

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Reddahlias · 02/03/2023 18:23

when I ask if he will meet his sperm donor he says 'yeah, might do one day'. But it's SO not an issue, or part of his identity

But find that incredibly unlikely as he must be curious about 50% of his identity? He deserves to know his biological roots imo.

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LicketySquid · 02/03/2023 19:02

I also wonder as as a previous PP said if it's similar to families where the father chooses not to have any contact. They can get info about the father but never actually know him. I wonder if there's actually any difference to the child; might depend on the child in question

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