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Helminauha-hanke - Pearl project 

Hel­mi­nau­ha is a pro­ject (2019-2021) fun­ded by STEA (Fun­ding Cent­re for Social Wel­fa­re and Health Orga­ni­sa­tions), the pur­po­se is to sup­port the fami­lies of donor-concei­ved children. The pur­po­se of the pro­ject is to give infor­ma­tion and sup­port for parents in proces­sing ques­tions regar­ding their child’s ori­gin as well as pre­pa­red­ness to talk about the donor concep­tion background with their children. The pro­ject ser­ves not only donor concep­tion fami­lies but also pro­fes­sio­nals, clo­se rela­ti­ves and friends of the donor concep­tion fami­lies, game­te donors, and tho­se plan­ning on donor concep­tion. The project’s lan­gua­ge of ope­ra­tion is Fin­nish. 

Becoming a family through donor conception 

What links toget­her parents of donor-concei­ved children is that dona­ted game­tes have been used in their fer­ti­li­ty treat­ments. The dis­tinc­ti­ve­ness of donor concep­tion fami­lies is that the children have been concei­ved with dona­ted game­tes so that half or all of their genes come from out­si­de the fami­ly, from game­te donors. A dona­ted game­te can be an egg, sperm, eggs and sperm from game­te donors or an embryo from, for example, anot­her couple that went through fer­ti­li­ty treat­ments. 

The game­te donor can be known or unk­nown to the inten­ded parents. In Fin­land, donor concep­tion treat­ments execu­ted after 2007 are being made with the help of regis­te­red donors, and the child has the right to recei­ve the donor’s infor­ma­tion after they turn 18. The child’s parent(s) can­not access the infor­ma­tion of the donor. 

Paren­ting a donor-concei­ved child does not dif­fer from parent­hood in gene­ral. Parents find their parent­hood to be comple­te­ly nor­mal paren­ting and their family’s eve­ry­day life to be nor­mal for fami­lies with small children. Howe­ver, the­re are special qua­li­ties to a donor-concei­ved child that will always fol­low the child and the­re­fo­re their parent as well. 

Befo­re under­going treat­ments, people hoping for a child through donor concep­tion should con­si­der the fol­lowing ques­tions: 

  1. What do you think of beco­ming a parent through donor conception?
  2. Whatdo you thinkof not knowing eve­ryt­hing about your child’s gene­tics? 
  3. If you have made the choice to use dona­ted game­tes with your part­ner, does your part­ner think the same way about the child’s gene­tics and the way of beco­ming a parent as you?
  4. What do you think of being open about your child’s background and that your child must grow up with knowing about their background?

 

Each per­son con­si­de­ring donor concep­tion treat­ments goes through donor concep­tion coun­sel­ling that aims to process topics rela­ted to the treat­ments and donor concep­tion parent­hood through a discus­sion with a psyc­ho­lo­gist. 

The donor concep­tion coun­sel­ling goes through the legal, ethical, and psyc­ho­lo­gical aspects of dona­ting, among other things.  

Hete­ro­sexual couples, fema­le couples and inde­pen­dent fema­les have the pos­si­bi­li­ty to recei­ve fer­ti­li­ty treat­ments in pri­va­te fer­ti­li­ty cli­nics or in uni­ver­si­ty hos­pi­tals that pro­vi­de fer­ti­li­ty treat­ments (HUS, TAYS, TYKS, OYS and KYS).   

The treat­ments have been avai­lable in uni­ver­si­ty hos­pi­tals since 2019, plea­se ask for more infor­ma­tion on the cri­te­ria for the treat­ments from your own local hos­pi­tal. Addi­tio­nal infor­ma­tion on the treat­ments can be found on the web­pa­ges of the cli­nics. 

Involuntary childlessness affects one in five 

Invo­lun­ta­ry child­less­ness affects one in five Fin­nish people that are in fer­ti­le age at some sta­ge of their lives. Invo­lun­ta­ry child­less­ness is always an indi­vi­dual expe­rience and it invol­ves many kinds of emo­tions such as sad­ness, lon­ging, frustra­tion, fluc­tua­ting hope and hope­less­ness. The expe­rience of child­less­ness is one of the big­gest cri­ses in adult­hood. Sim­puk­ka ry is the only associa­tion in Fin­land of invo­lun­ta­ri­ly child­less people that pro­mo­tes the cause of invo­lun­ta­ri­ly child­less people. 

Heterosexual couples

Hete­ro­sexual couples can ask for donor concep­tion treat­ments after fer­ti­li­ty treat­ments con­duc­ted with their own game­tes, or donor concep­tion treat­ment can also be the first and only treat­ment for example because of an ill­ness. 

Hete­ro­sexual couples often have a background of long-las­ting child­less­ness and they have gone through a long and emo­tio­nal jour­ney of hope and hope­less­ness befo­re moving on to donor concep­tion treat­ments or befo­re even con­si­de­ring the treat­ments. The thought of a child wit­hout a gene­tic con­nec­tion to them can feel foreign and sca­ry at first and fer­ti­li­sing your partner’s game­tes with a donor’s game­tes can rai­se many kinds of emo­tions. Howe­ver, through donor concep­tion treat­ments the couple has a chance to go through preg­nancy, child­birth and being a parent from the first moments. It is unders­tan­dable to have fee­lings of insecu­ri­ty during preg­nancy, such as “will I be a good enough mum or dad for this child” or “is the child comple­te­ly mine”. The parents of donor-concei­ved children do not have the cla­ri­ty of parent­hood brought by the sha­red gene­tic background but abo­ve all else, parent­hood is a social rela­tions­hip. The mea­ning of gene­tics should not be ove­res­ti­ma­ted but the child’s right to know their background and sto­ry of ori­gin should be res­pec­ted. 

Rainbow families

  • Fema­le couples beco­me parents knowing that having a child requi­res the use of dona­ted game­tes. The most com­mon treat­ment option for fema­le couples is inse­mi­na­tion, in which dona­ted sperm is injec­ted into the woman’s ute­rus. IVF or in vit­ro fer­ti­li­sa­tion can also be a treat­ment option. 

 

Questions to consider before donor conception treatments: 
  • What kind of emo­tions rise from the lack of a gene­tic bond, bio­lo­gical mot­her vs. social mot­her? 
  • How do you choose/How did you choo­se which per­son carries/carried the child? 
  • What answer to give to out­si­ders asking about the donor? 
  • Do you agree with each other in which way you will sha­re the donor concep­tion background with the child?

 

Things to discuss and agree upon: 
  • Custo­dy rela­ted mat­ters 
  • Ack­now­led­ge­ment of pater­ni­ty or lack the­reof 
  • The roles of the parents and how you wish to be cal­led 
  • Crea­ting a let­ter of intent, i.e. a writ­ten contract

 

Sateen­kaa­ri­per­heet ry (Rain­bow Fami­lies Fin­land) offers more infor­ma­tion and sup­port for rain­bow fami­lies, find out  more here

 

Solo mothers

A solo mot­her is a woman who, eit­her out of their own wish or des­pi­te their wish, does not have a part­ner. A per­son hoping for a child inde­pen­dent­ly has often deci­ded to start the fer­ti­li­ty treat­ments alo­ne as a result of a long con­si­de­ra­tion. 

Single women execu­te donor concep­tion through eit­her inse­mi­na­tion, in which case they use dona­ted sperm, or through IVF or in vit­ro fer­ti­li­sa­tion in which case they use dona­ted sperm and the woman’s own eggs or pos­sibly dona­ted eggs. 

Things to consider for solo mothers  

Suf­ficient financial secu­ri­ty 

Is your inco­me suf­ficient to pro­vi­de for two people and for the surpri­se expen­ses that children bring? Do you feel like your financial situa­tion is secu­re and suf­ficient? 

Sup­port network 

Do you have enough friends and rela­ti­ves that can sup­port you and help with taking care of the child? Think in advance of who can take care of your child if you get sick, are on a busi­ness trip or need some alo­ne time and rest. 

Wish for a child 

You want a child more than you want to keep loo­king for a part­ner. The wish for a child stems from your­self and you are not trying to ful­fil other people’s wis­hes, such as your parents’ wis­hes for a grandc­hild. 

Väes­tö­liit­to, the Fami­ly Fede­ra­tion of Finland’s web­pa­ges were used as resource mate­rial for the list.