Donor Conception

Donor Conception – Beginning Your Lifebook and Ten Things Donor Conceived Children Want Parents to Know

Eloise Edington  |   2 Apr 2021

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In this fertility blog, we hear from specialist fertility coach, Lisa Schuman from The Center for Family Building. Read on as Lisa discusses the topic of donor conception and how you can record and document your fertility journey with My Lifebook, to share with your future child about their conception story. With my own sperm donor conceived children, this is the kind of information and resource I (Eloise) personally wish I’d had available at the time.

Lisa also gives us top ten common things that all donor conceived children want their parents to know.

Words by Lisa Schuman

Whether you’re just beginning to build your family, or already have children with the assistance of donor conception, it can be difficult to know how to prepare to help your child understand their origins. At The Center for Family Building, we provide groups and workshops to help parents and parents-to-be find answers to their questions. We also help donor conceived children craft their narratives in our TIP TOP Programs. In these workshops, we see how much children enjoy hearing about how they came into the world, so we have created a way to help parents make a gift for their children, to help them understand their story.

Related Article – IVF with Egg Donation: Why People Turn to Egg Donors

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Beginning Your Lifebook

You don’t need to wait until your child is home to chronicle your story. Beginning to construct your narrative can be beneficial to you too. Here are a few examples of the ways beginning your Lifebook can be productive for the entire family:

  • Help Lessen Anxiety – If you are building your family with the assistance of a sperm, egg, embryo donor or surrogate, there are likely to be many stops and starts on your path to parenthood. It can feel so frustrating to not be in the driver’s seat. You can choose the people who will help you on your path, but then you must follow their directions and often wait.

  • Give Meditation and Stress Reduction Strategies – These can assist during an otherwise frustrating time, and feeling productive can also be helpful. When life feels out of your control, putting your energy into a positive pursuit and seeing the benefits of that action can feel very stabilizing. Creating My Lifebook can be a perfect way to use your excess energy in a positive way, by recording your fertility journey.

  • Prompt You to Record Special Moments – It can help you retain personal items that your child may later appreciate, and give you an opportunity to create an object that your child can cherish. We have found that, over the years, children can continue to use their Lifebooks during times when they are exploring their identities and trying to understand who they are in the world. Like adults, some children are private and others are very outgoing. Regardless of your child’s temperament, they will treasure My Lifebook, as it chronicles their unique and personal story.

Related Article – Q&A: Eloise, Founder of FHH, Tells Her Story

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10 Things Donor Conceived Children Want Their Parents to Understand

  1. You are my parent(s) – It is true that I wonder about my origins. It is also true that I may want to find my sperm / egg donor and/or donor related siblings someday, but that doesn’t mean I see them as my family. My family are the people who raise and care for me.

  2. Don’t feel thrown by my ever-changing feelings about my genetics – I may have times when I feel a strong urge to know my genetic make-up, I may never be very interested or I may be interested sometimes. My feelings may change over time as I grow and develop my own unique identity.

  3. Explore my feelings about my donor with me – There are two important parts to this. Firstly, if I seem upset about something having to do with my donor, talk to me and help me explore my feelings. It may be about the donor but it may be about something else. Secondly, I know you want to help, but I may not be ready to meet my sperm / egg donor or to learn things about my donor, for which I may be unprepared. I may have fantasies about my donor and I may not be ready for the reality of who my donor truly is. So, before you help me find my donor please explore my feelings and thoughts with me. If you need help with this, there are experts who can give you guidance and support.

  4. I notice when people make comments about us looking alike – Even though I know I don’t share your biology, sometimes I feel sad about that, sometimes it’s really nice for me when other people think we are genetically connected.

  5. I don’t always feel like talking about my donor but I never forget – so mentioning my donor will not make me remember.

  6. Say nice things about my donor to me and in front of me – I am always listening and when you say nice things about my donor I know that you feel good about that part of me too. If you speak well of my donor it will help me feel more relaxed about bringing her/him up in a conversation.

  7. Remember that my donor information belongs to me – As I get older, I will develop my own thoughts about who I want to tell, and when, and that will be my choice.

  8. It’s nice to meet other non-traditional families – It may not be easy to find other donor conceived children but meeting children with different family structures or children who joined their families through adoption will feel comforting and help me see that I am not alone.

  9. If I have moments of sadness or disappointment about being donor conceived let me have them – I don’t have to be disappointed for long. Remember I want to be like you and our differences may feel disappointing to me sometimes.

  10. Remember I am a kid I may be mature, or immature for my age. I may be introverted or extroverted. All of these things, and more, will influence how I feel about my donor at different stages of my development. I love you and know you are doing your best for me so don’t worry about making mistakes. Like any parent and child, our relationship will develop over time and the more accepting you are of my donor, the better I will feel.

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

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Young children understand information in concrete terms and will understand more nuanced and abstract information as they grow. Since My Lifebook is an important object for your child to hold on to and cherish through the years, it needs to be appealing to children of all ages. Fortunately, My Lifebook is interactive, colorful and uses concepts that work for kids of every age.

It is never too late to start My Lifebook. If your child is in your home, creating My Lifebook can be a great project to do together. It is self-explanatory, but if you need suggestions please contact us. We are co-hosting a My Lifebook workshop in April, and for more information, email us at [email protected]. If you would like personal support from a fertility coach, or assistance with donor conception, pre-register for our Spring donor conception support group here.

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