How to talk about IVF egg donation?

When you have successfully conceived from donated eggs and everything has gone as planned it might be the time to think through how and when to talk to your child about the origins of their creation. This is a very frequently discussed subject. Every parent struggles with these thoughts and questions, how and what to say? How will the child react? Should I worry about the reaction? What if it goes wrong and so on. Do not worry: as long as you are honest and the child is loved and cared for, you can be sure everything’s going to be okay. Still it is of course a very good idea to think it through and come up with some sort of strategy. We will try to help you with carrying this operation out as smoothly as possible.

How to talk to your child about their origins

Let’s start with saying that it is not a one-time thing. Talking to your kids about how they were born with the help of donated eggs is a long process. It is not like you will just say one day: “Hey kid, you know what? You aren’t in 100% ours, we had help of a kind person you probably won’t ever meet.” This problem cannot be solved this way. This is a continuing and evolving process, but don’t panic it is not too complicated.

If you need some encouragement and motivation to start the process, here are some really good reasons to tell your child:

  • It’s a very good start in building an honest relationship
  • It’s the right thing to do and shows respect toward the child and their right to know who they are
  • It protects the child from shock and stress in the future when the truth comes out accidentally
  • It puts the child in control of what to do with this information in the future so they can make their own decisions in this matter
  • It absolutely does not change the child’s attitude to be negative towards the parents
  • You can explain some differences in the appearances so the child does not have some wrong ideas, like that it was adopted or was a result of an affair.
  • Makes some technical issues of medical procedures easier because you can be clear about the medical history.

When to begin?

You can start before the child reaches the age of 5. It seems a bit early but the thing is that with time you adjust the given information appropriately to the child’s age and ability to comprehend the facts. So you can start at 5 with some totally basic information, for example that you wanted the baby so much and had to get help from a kind lady so it could be born and be loved. When the child grows you can add more specific information so that when they finally get the idea what egg donation really means, they won’t feel lost or shocked.  If everything goes as planned the child will be growing up not thinking “why are they telling me this now?” because they will feel that you have always been honest about this subject.

There are of course situations when the child is bit older and still doesn’t know. No matter, it is never too late. It only makes it more of an event than a long term process. If your child is a teenager or is already an adult, you might need a little support. You might try contacting other parents who found themselves in a similar situation or on ED support sites which we will talk about at the end of this article. There are also books and DVDs which you can easily find on the internet.

How and what?

You already have an idea when to tell your child, now it is the time to know how and what to say. First of all, don’t worry about the language issues when it comes to sex and reproduction. At the beginning it won’t be an issue simply because you won’t have to talk about sex at all. When you start, give bits of information adding more details over time. In the beginning the language should be simple and it can be absolutely free of sex and reproduction issues. When your child is ready, give bigger blocks of information and add the details you feel they should know at their age. You can find help on how and what to tell your child in some books like “Our Story” or “Telling and Talking booklet”.

How will the child react?

Every person who is burdened with going through the process of enlightening the child about their origins thinks about the reaction they will receive. It’s very natural to worry but it is very often an unnecessary concern. If the child is loved and cared for, there should not be any problems. Love, honesty and a secure relationship with parents is the most important thing for the child. So when you tell the child that you needed help from a kind person, because your eggs were not healthy enough, it is possible that there won’t be any fuss about it. Your child may not think of it much or ask some simple, honest questions and not worry about the case at all. If the child is bit older, you might sit down with them and talk about how all families are different and that some families need a bit of help. Children over 8 years of age have a lot bigger understanding. They are your children, you will know best how to make them understand. It is up to you, you know his personality and it very much depends on how you feel about this issue – kids can feel it. Sometimes they won’t understand immediately so try to explain how there are not blood related with one or both of the parents and that this in any way doesn’t lessen your feelings for them. If like we said the child is 8 years old or older, they may be in a bit of a shock at first. The child might be angry and depending on their age, the older they are, the angrier they could get because of the fact you did not tell them earlier. Sadness is another issue, knowing they are not entirely connected with their parents. However, this could also happen later to a child who was told about their origins at an early age. Remember that every reaction is natural and don’t worry if the child gets angry or sad, that is perfectly normal. Let the child feel what they want to feel, then talk with them again and it will be much better.

Talking to family and friends

Whether you tell your family and friends or not is entirely up to you. Do as you feel, it is your child and this is your decision. However, it is a good idea to tell just the closest family members to avoid some drama later – grandparents could feel a bit cheated if they found out by themselves. There are, however, some advantages in enlightening you friends. As your child grows, they change and some appearance differences could be spotted and articulated by your friends. This, in turn, might make your child start thinking and talking with somebody and they could come to some false conclusions and cause some uncomfortable situations. Being open with this case makes it less problematic. It could also be good for you just to tell somebody and talk about the whole issue.

Is it always good to tell your child?

We support being honest with children but there are circumstances in which we should think twice. Not every 6-year-old is the same as another 6-year-old. If your child has some development issues or learning difficulties, you must take it under consideration and adjust it to their needs. There are also communities which don’t exactly tolerate any other conception methods then the natural ones which could expose the child to some unpleasantness. However, try avoiding the situation when you don’t tell the child because you think it would be bad for them while, in fact, you are just scared yourself. You might regret it later.