Using Donor Eggs: 6 Reasons to Tell Your Child
Should I tell my child about the role of the egg donor in conception?
If you’ve decided to use a donor’s eggs, you may have a burning question: Should I tell my child about the role of the egg donor in conception?
Most mental health professionals agree that it’s in the best interests of children to grow up knowing where they came from. Here are a few reasons why.
- Honesty creates a foundation of trust and integrity in the parent-child relationship.
- Basic information about their origins helps children develop a cohesive sense of identity. In fact, the more age-appropriate information you provide, the greater may be your child’s sense of security.
- Having access to medical history and genetic information may be a practical and important asset in the future.
- Family secrets can be damaging. Children can have a “sixth sense” about things not talked about, and they often assume the secret is negative and about them. In addition, secrets can create distance between parent and child and lead to parental anxiety about unplanned disclosure. Accidental or belated disclosure can cause a deep sense of hurt, anger, and betrayal in the child, which can affect attachment to parents and trust in future relationships.
- By contrast, early and regular age-appropriate discussions with children about their egg-donation (or sperm-donation) origins do not appear to negatively impair attachment to parents1. Attachment is not a matter of genetics. It develops through caring, inquisitive, and responsive connections between parents and children.
- Evidence thus far indicates that children conceived through egg donation—who are told about their origins—are every bit as well adjusted socially and emotionally as their peers.
Do you wonder whether telling your child will create confusion or hostility? Remember that your child won’t carry the same sadness you may have felt in response to your infertility—sadness from the loss of a dream about how your family was meant to be. If you are open and honest, your child will be much more likely to accept the idea of donor conception without a sense of sadness or loss.
- MacDougall K et al. Fertil Steril. 2007 Mar;87(3):524–533.