As a reproductive health & fertility counsellor, I’ve worked for many years with people who are using the help of a donor to conceive their child. I often get asked: “How are kids doing as they grow up? Will they feel different from other kids? Will they be ok?”
I can say that the kids are doing ok! Over the years, I have met many children (and adults) who were donor-conceived and who are doing well! The research in this area also confirms what I have seen.
Several studies have found that donor-conceived children show positive psychological adjustment, with no differences from naturally conceived children (Casey et al., 2008; Golombok et al., 2006; Kovacs et al., 2012; Owen & Golombok, 2009). In fact, one study found that families using donor sperm are not only doing well, but in some cases better than families who did not use donor sperm. This seemed to play out in increased parent-child closeness and less parent-child conflict (Kovacs et al., 2012). In other studies, mothers who used donor eggs showed greater warmth, sensitivity, and involvement with their children, as compared to non-donor-conceived families (Casey et al., 2008; Golombok et al., 2006).
It’s important to note that the above research took place with families who were open with their children about their origin stories. For many reasons, disclosure to children is recommended (ASRM, 2013; RESOLVE, 2007).
It seems that kids are doing well when they know they are donor-conceived… and so are their families overall. What better gift to give to children than to tell them how wanted and intentional they were!
For more information and support on donor conception, check out Donor Conception Canada or the Donor Conception Network (UK).You may also want to connect one-on-one with a counsellor who is experienced in reproductive health & fertility.
Written by Holly Yager, M.Ed., RCC, CCC on May 2, 2021