Parenting is hard, no matter who you are or how your kids got here.
Then, add the fact that your child is here because of an egg donor, and suddenly certain conversations just got a little more complicated.
Don’t worry. We’re here to ease your parenting concerns. Egg donation and surrogacy are beautiful in their own way. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and if approached the right way, your child will be proud of where they came from.
Here are our seven best tips to remember when raising a child conceived from a donor egg.
1. Consider Using an Identified Donor
When choosing an egg donor, you usually have a choice of whether you want your donor to be anonymous or not.
If the egg donor is anonymous, the intended parents will not be told her name or given any contact information. Unknown donors may seem more comfortable and safer for the parents, but it can ultimately be harmful to the child.
As the child grows, they will become increasingly curious about where they came from. If the egg donor remains anonymous, it’s almost impossible to gain answers to any questions the child may have.
As an intended parent, you need to consider what would happen if there were a medical emergency. We now know that specific biological factors play a significant role in certain medical conditions and disorders. It’s essential to have access to a fully updated medical history.
Even if having a relationship with the egg donor makes the intended parents uncomfortable, they need to consider the needs of the child. Every person has a desire to know where they came from. Having an open relationship with the donor will help ensure the child develops a positive identity.
If you haven’t already chosen your egg donor, you may want to make sure she’s open to having at least some limited contact. This way, the intended parents, or the child, will have a way to contact her if there is ever a need.
2. Normalize The Story
Start talking to your child about where they came from as soon as possible. While you don’t have to go into the intricate details of sexual reproduction, you can use words and phrases that are age-appropriate.
Here are some phrases you can start with:
“We wanted you very, very much.”
“We waited a long time for you to come to our family.”
“A very special woman helped us find you.”
“You are loved by so many people.”
Start with the basics and build from there as the child gets older and starts asking more questions. Make sure they know how much they are loved and wanted. As long as your talks come from a place of love and honesty, you’re doing it right.
3. Be Prepared for Mixed Emotions
Think about what you went through to get a family.
Most intended parents experienced a lot of ups and downs as they went through countless doctor appointments, donor searches, fertility cycles, and egg retrievals. All of that took years before a baby was finally in their arms.
During this time, intended parents learned to process and accept the fact that their baby wouldn’t be genetically connected to both parents. Intended parents needed that time to grieve the loss of a genetically-related child. Your child will feel many of those same emotions as they learn about where they come from and will need to process this information.
They may wonder why they don’t look like both parents or feel different in some intuitive way. They may start questioning who their “real parents” are. And then they may go through phases of being completely disinterested in any of it.
As a parent, you need to be prepared to help them through any emotions they’re feeling. This means listening to their concerns and affirming their place in the family. Also, just know that all children and teenagers may say hurtful things to their parents. Don’t ever take this as a sign that you aren’t “enough” for your child.
4. Be Open with Family and Friends
When you tell your child about their conception, don’t encourage them to keep it a secret. This teaches the child that their conception is somehow wrong and shameful.
You need to be okay with family and close friends knowing the truth. This way, the child can talk about their own story with loved ones. Kids like to talk about what makes them unique.
It may be helpful for you to share some information with teachers, coaches, and neighbors beforehand. This way, when the child brings it up, there are no shocked or inappropriate reactions. Egg donation and surrogacy are still new topics for many people. As a parent, you can educate those around you about the process and let them know how grateful you are and how unique your child is. Always approach the topic with a positive attitude and never be embarrassed about your journey and what you had to go through to get the family you wanted.
Help your child be prepared to answer common questions such as “What parent do you look like?” or “Who is your biological mother?” If they’re ready to talk about the topic with those in the community, it can help bring a positive outlook on egg donation and surrogacy in general.
5. Become Familiar with the Donor Sibling Registry
As your child gets older, they may start asking questions about any other genetic relative they may have. One of the most useful tools for this is the Donor Sibling Registry. This organization helps donor-conceived children connect with any relatives or half-siblings they may have.
You can register your child with the DSR as soon as they’re born. You’ll need to know their birthdate, the fertility clinic, and the donor’s ID number. This information will go into the system and find available relations. Contact can then be made either through the registry or on your own.
In addition to allowing the child to find any biological relatives, the DSR can also provide crucial up-to-date family medical information.
6. Trust Your Parental Instincts
All any parent can do is trust their parental instincts. As long as you’re acting in the best interest of the child and making them feel loved and safe, it will all work out.
Just remember to respect your child’s decisions as they get older. They may want to get to know their biological relations, or they may not. It’s really up to them.
And be patient. It’s a lifelong process. Your child will go through phases where they will ask a lot of questions, and they may go through periods where they don’t want to talk about it. Just be supportive as they process their emotions.