Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters

Being a child of donor insemination: Organisations are committed to increasing available information

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.324.7349.1339 (Published 01 June 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:1339
  1. Eric D Blyth, professor of social work (e.d.blyth{at}hud.ac.uk)
  1. University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield HD1 3DH
  2. Donor Conception Network, London N6 5HA
  3. Donor Conception Network, PO Box 265, Sheffield S3 7YX

    EDITOR—The anonymous personal view shows how isolating secrecy in donor assisted conception can be and why every step should be taken to stop the practice of donor anonymity, as has already occurred in several countries.1

    My main purpose in writing is to comment on the statement that “the few studies that have looked at us [donor conceived children] have used only parental interpretations of our emotional state.” This is largely true if the search for research is confined to the standard sources, such as Human Reproduction and Fertility and Sterility (although Human Reproduction has published one research paper that has directly sought the views of donor conceived people themselves2).3 A few other studies have sought the experiences of donor conceived people directly but have not been published (G Hewitt, unpublished paper, Sydney, 2001; L W Spencer, unpublished MA thesis, Detroit, 2000).

    Interestingly, all of the studies of which I am aware have been undertaken by donor conceived adults. I am currently undertaking some research into the experiences of family members (adults and children) when donor conception has been used.

    Montuschi has written a letter [below] on behalf of the support group Donor Conception Network. There are two similar groups, the Infertility Network (in Canada) and the Donor Conception Support Group (in Australia), which are committed to increasing the information available in donor assisted conception and seeking to abolish donor anonymity. DonorsOffspring.com is a website for people who have been conceived with donor assisted conception (email greg{at}donorsoffspting.com).

    References

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    Donor Conception Network always advises openness

    1. Olivia Montuschi, founder member (olivia.m{at}appleonline.net)
    1. University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield HD1 3DH
    2. Donor Conception Network, London N6 5HA
    3. Donor Conception Network, PO Box 265, Sheffield S3 7YX

      EDITOR—I am the mother of two teenagers who were conceived by donor insemination and who, like the young woman who wrote the personal view, will never know the identity of their fathers or be able to get further information about them.1 What is different for them, however, is that their father and I started to tell them about their origins when they were very small and they have been able to discuss them with the family ever since. What terrible mixed messages the author of the article has been getting from her family. How could she not have felt guilty and very alone with her secret?

      Our own children, by contrast, are comfortable talking with anyone about their origins. One of them would like more information about her donor; the other, a young man of 18, cares only that he was brought up in a family that respected him enough to be truthful.

      The Donor Conception Network, of which I am a founder member, exists to promote openness in families created through donated gametes and to support parents in sharing information with their children in ways appropriate to their age. We recognise that this is a lifelong process, which is best started at an age when children will not be able to remember when they did not know. The network can be contacted on 0208 245 4369, dcnetwork{at}appleonline.net, or http://www.dcnetwork.org/

      References

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      Consultation is in progress about whether to persist with donor anonymity

      1. Gwyneth Wray, steering group member (wrayjone{at}waitrose.com)
      1. University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield HD1 3DH
      2. Donor Conception Network, London N6 5HA
      3. Donor Conception Network, PO Box 265, Sheffield S3 7YX

        EDITOR—I found the article on how it feels to be a child of donor insemination extremely moving.1 I am sad that a person who was raised with the knowledge of her conception should still have so many problems about the fact that she doesn't have information about the donor.

        I am a single parent of a 4 year old daughter conceived by donor insemination, and I have told her about her origins in a way that she can understand. Although I am concerned about how she will feel about this when she is older, I believe that because I have provided her with the opportunity to grow up knowing other children conceived in the same way she will not feel so isolated. I am a member of the Donor Conception Network, which exists to provide support to families with children conceived with donated gametes, and those contemplating and undergoing treatment.

        Donor anonymity and access to information may change for children in the future, and the Department of Health has opened consultation about access to information on their origins for those conceived with donated gametes. The consultation period runs until 1 July 2002, and details about how members of the public can respond can be found at www.doh.gov.uk/gametedonors.

        Many single women seeking donor insemination are now choosing to have sperm imported to their clinic from the United States so that they and the child may have more information about the donor; with an identity release donor the child may have the opportunity to meet him at the age of 18.

        References

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