If you've used an egg donor, there are many things to consider when deciding whether and how to tell your child how they were conceived. In this blog, I'll discuss the main pros and cons of telling your child, and some key considerations about when to tell them.
When parents were surveyed about why they planned to disclose the information to their their children, their top reasons included:
The child’s right to know his or her genetic origins
Family secrets are harmful
Others already know
The child could learn from someone else
Wanting to be open and honest
Parents who planned not to tell their child about using an egg donor cited reasons including:
No reason to tell
It could have a negative emotional impact on the child
The child might want to find the donor
There might be social stigma
Not sure how to disclose
Limited information about the donor
Reasons for delayed disclosure included:
Never finding the “right time”
Uncertainty about how and when to disclose
Lack of sufficient information about the donor
Anxiety about the effect of disclosure on the child
Family crises or events that led to postponement of disclosure
Conflict between partners regarding disclosure
Consult a Counselor or Therapist for Help
The role of mental health professionals and their assistance during the process seems to be directly related to the disclosure of this information to children born from an egg donation. Of the families in this study that had disclosed to their child(ren), 50% had sought professional mental health assistance during the process and all reported that it had been beneficial to their decision-making. Only 11% of the families who delayed disclosure had sought emotional support and assistance from a mental health professional.
There is no right or wrong answer in whether or not to disclose. What is most important if you've had a child via egg donor is that you've considered all options and possible outcomes and have made the decision that is best for you. Help from a mental health professional in making this decision is strongly advised. If you opt not to tell your child, it's recommended that you see your mental health professional when your child reaches ages 3, 6 and 9 years of age. It's possible that one or both parents might be questioning the decision, and speaking with a neutral third party gives you the chance to keep evaluating and communicating to do what's best for your family.
Vicki Meagher has worked with InVia Fertility Specialists since 2006. She is our Third Party Coordinator, so she works with our patients that need an egg donor, sperm donor, gestational surrogate, or any combination of the above. She recruits and screens the egg donors for our in-house donor program as well. She loves working with intended parents and is passionate about third party reproduction and the important role it plays in helping patients achieve their dream of starting or extending their family. She is a member of SEEDS - the Society for Ethics for Egg Donation and Surrogacy.