Donor Conception

How I Feel About Being Donor Conceived – Bee’s Story

Bee  |  26 Apr 2021


27th April marks International Donor Conception Awareness Day, which has been launched by The Ribbon Box and 24 other partners. Big thanks to Jana Rupnow for pulling this together. This is a day where we can recognise the joy and complications donor conception can bring. It’s a chance to bring a voice to donor conceived adults, as well as parents who have used a sperm donor, egg donor or embryo donation.

As a parent of sperm donor conceived children, I feel it is important to hear many views, feelings and considerations for sperm and egg donation.

So, today for IDCAD , we hear from Bee, who is in her thirties and a mother of two. She discovered last summer that she is donor conceived, by logging onto 23&Me and seeing she matched with 12 half siblings. Bee is considered a late discovery donor conceived person – her parents had never intended to tell her. In the 80’s, fertility specialists discouraged recipient parents from telling their children and families.

Bee talks about how she feels about being donor conceived, as well as the positives and negatives of donor conception. Read on for advice to others going through the same thing.

Words by Bee

@inconceivedable

How do you feel about being donor conceived?

Well right now it’s a whole lot of everything. I feel both happy and devastated about my donor conception.

I’m happy I’m alive; without donor conception I wouldn’t exist as myself. Super weird to think about, as it wasn’t really my decision. I’m happy to be making connections with my siblings. We have so many similarities and I am so grateful they will be in my life from here on out.

It was absolutely devastating to learn my Dad wasn’t my biological father. I feel heartbroken my parents kept this choice to themselves and didn’t ever plan to tell me. I am extremely upset that I went through the IVF process and created embryos not knowing my own DNA, not knowing my own medical history. It is hard to know if I will ever have the ability to talk to my biological father (and my biological grandfather, who I discovered is still currently alive). It’s upsetting to think he might not want to know who I am, or know anything about my kids (his biological grandchildren). It hurts that he hasn’t replied to my email. I worry I have siblings out there who don’t know yet, who might never know. I hurt for them.

Right now the hurt often outweighs the joy.

Related Article – Moving on to Donor Sperm: Morgan and Wyatt’s Journey to Baby H

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Any advice for someone considering using a sperm or egg donor?

I am not a donor conceived individual that thinks donor conception shouldn’t exist.

Sure I’m uncomfortable with the concept of selling sperm, and I do wonder why is it illegal to sell a kidney but not genetic material? However, my main thought about donor conception lies in this: I believe everyone has a right to make a family. I strongly support single parents by choice and same sex couples. I think donor conception should be available for them. I believe transparency and honesty is the most important thing to consider for your future child. Pick a donor who your child can know. A sperm or egg donor who will not mind answering your child’s questions someday, who will treat them with respect and kindness. Find out how many siblings your child will have and make sure their siblings parent(s) will offer the opportunity for relationships with your child. Make sure you think about sibling limits; right now I think no donor should be conceiving any more then 20 (I might change my mind on that someday but that’s where I’m at now). If you want to have multiple kids, use the same donor.

Above all else. Tell your child the truth. Tell them when they are born how they were made. Tell them any chance you get. Don’t let their questions about their donor conception bring up the pain of infertility / genetic loss in your heart. Prepare yourself, think about the questions they might ask before they ask them. Acknowledge their feelings, even if they hurt you. Donor conceived kids are often scared to talk to their parent(s) about the donor or half siblings for fear of hurting them. You don’t want your kid(s) to be scared like that.

Related Article – Eight Things I’ve Learnt Whilst Raising a Donor-Conceived Child

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How do you think you would have felt if your parents disclosed this to you from a young age?

This is a really tough theoretical question for me. I understand why you ask it, because I think the answer an intended recipient parent(s) wants to hear from it is: “Yes, tell your kids and everything will be ok!” but I don’t think my reply is going to be that simple. Feelings on donor conception depend largely on the child and the parents who we are talking about, I can only speak from my personal experience.

Personally, this question makes me examine the pain that my parents caused by keeping this a secret and also makes me feel the need to decipher who my parents are as people. Disclosing this to me at a young age would have to assume my parents would have had the emotional maturity to not only tell me in a healthy way, but also be able to have non-judgmental conversations with me about it as I grew up and had more questions. It would require my parents to put away their own feelings about having to use a donor to conceive, put aside their infertility traumas and really support me as a curious child. I honestly don’t know that my parents could have done that. In some ways I think it would have been even more harmful if my parents had told me as a child and then invalidated my feelings on it, like they are doing now. As an adult I can stand up to them, I am a grown person and I can call them out when I feel hurt or misunderstood. As a child, the power dynamic is so different. I feel I would have felt ashamed and would have pushed harder to please them, to make them happy and heal their pain, even if that meant ignoring my own feelings. I know, as an adult, that isn’t fair on a child, but as a child I wouldn’t have understood that.

There is no way to know how your theoretical child will feel about their donor conception or what things will be of interest to them and which they will care nothing about. The only thing you have power over is how you react, how you manage your own feelings. Have you really processed the genetic loss of using a donor, or will your child be able to trigger that? If they do, will they see your sorrow and grief and try to fix it? Heal yourself first, figure out your responses to those hard questions before they come to you with them.

I am sorry if that isn’t the answer you were hoping for, this process is an incredibly complex journey. I’m hoping to write a whole lot more on this topic, I am starting to talk to more donor conceived people about it, as it’s something I know potential recipient parents are really wanting to know.

Related Article – How Using Donor Sperm Changed Our Lives

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What are your feelings on donor conception, before and after your IVF struggle?

I have two IVF children of my own. I struggled with infertility for 8 years, far longer then I’ve currently struggled with the identity crisis of being donor conceived. When we made embryos, we were very very lucky. We had more then we needed (so I thought). I was actually excited to be able to gift them someday to someone, as long as they were willing to be semi open, so the kids could all know each other. We ended up using every single embryo we made to have our two children (in the process we discovered I also suffer from repetitive miscarriages in addition to infertility). If fact my littlest was our final embryo, our last chance at a sibling for our eldest.

Now that I have discovered I’m donor conceived, I’m actually horrified I ever casually thought about giving my littlest up. I cried so hard one night to my partner, what if we had done it, what if we had donated and then I found this out? What if I knew what pain I’d be giving to my own children by donating them. I was so focused on giving an infertile couple joy, I never considered the pain that would come to a child. And that pain lasts a lifetime. I know there won’t be a time in my life I will be able to ‘forget’ I’m donor conceived. This decision, that I wasn’t even a part of making, altered my life forever. It’s a roller coaster of a ride and I want to support anyone who’s on it with me.

One important thing I want to say in closing. We aren’t a monolith – donor conceived people don’t all feel the same about donor conception. I’m just one of thousands out there; please keep listening to our stories. Push your clinics and your sperm / egg banks for transparency, push them for more education and counselling, for more known donors, for sibling limits. You can make a difference in children’s lives if you just start asking these questions. Sometimes I feel that, in order to change the industry, it’s got to come from the ones that are funding it, the infertile community. We need your support and your help in this.

I feel my parents’ fertility clinic didn’t care about me after I was made. It’s a hard thing for me to wrap my head around as a human being – makes me feel like a commodity, a dollar sign, it’s a heavy feeling.

If you’re looking into donor conception and want to chat with others travelling the same road, then subscribe to our newsletter.

Related Article – Fertility Springboard Podcast: Donor Conception and Surrogacy – Marking Gay Pride with Two Dads UK

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