Processing the donor conception background with the child 

Table of contents 

Processing the donor conception background with the child 

It is impor­tant for a donor-concei­ved child to grow up with the know­led­ge of their ori­gin throug­hout their who­le life. In prac­tice, this means that you can talk about the donor concep­tion background alrea­dy to a baby. Many parents find it easy to talk to a baby because a baby does not ask any ques­tions and the parent can prac­tice the words to talk about the donor concep­tion background that suit them. Accor­ding to stu­dies, children that have been spo­ken to about the donor concep­tion background at an ear­ly age, react to the mat­ter in a neut­ral and inqui­si­ti­ve way. Children often have a fee­ling that they have always known, and it is a natu­ral part of the family’s and child’s sto­ry. Accor­ding to stu­dies, it is in the best inte­rest of the child that they are spo­ken to about the mat­ter as ear­ly as pos­sible, so the child grows up with the know­led­ge of their background and it beco­mes a natu­ral part of their sto­ry. 

Checklist for speaking about the donor conception background to a child

  • Calm and dis­tur­bance-free situa­tion, for example whi­le rea­ding. 
  • Small children requi­re an expla­na­tion that is as simple and short as pos­sible. 
  • Lis­ten atten­ti­ve­ly for any ques­tions the child might have. 
  • Con­si­der the child’s emo­tions and reac­tions and res­pond sen­si­ti­ve­ly. 
  • The mat­ter can be discus­sed also as a sto­ry because children remem­ber things bet­ter when they are told as stories. Fai­ry­ta­les and baby books help with this. 
  • You can­not fail in discus­sing the mat­ter and you can and should keep retur­ning to the sub­ject. 
Talking to a small child 
  • Tell the truth and sha­re as much infor­ma­tion as your child requi­res. The basic rule is that you should answer the child’s ques­tions as simply as pos­sible. 
  • Lea­ve the details to a later date, con­si­de­ring the child’s age and deve­lop­ment. 
  • Tell your child how impor­tant this infor­ma­tion is to you and con­si­der the child’s ques­tions and answers in ear­nest and encou­ra­ge the child to ask ques­tions. 
  • Make sure that the child unders­tands that the mat­ter is not a sec­ret. 
  • Return to the sub­ject in sui­table situa­tions and make sure that the child has unders­tood what you tal­ked about. 
Things to note when talking to a school age child 
  • You should start by tal­king about diver­se fami­lies. This is cer­tain­ly fami­liar for the child alrea­dy. 
  • School may cover fami­ly rela­tions­hips and it might be a good moment to explain the mat­ter to the child. This is a good time to sha­re the infor­ma­tion with the teac­her as well, so the child’s sto­ry does not come as a surpri­se to them. 
  • Children’s atti­tu­des towards the mat­ter dif­fer. Some are not affec­ted by the infor­ma­tion, some can be very inqui­si­ti­ve. Some may alrea­dy won­der if they pos­sibly have siblings. 
Things to note about telling a teen/an adult 
  • Sha­re the mat­ter in a way that makes the teen unders­tand that the­re is not­hing to be asha­med of. 
  • Make sure that the teen unders­tands that this know­led­ge does not chan­ge who they are: They are the same per­son as they have been so far and belong to the same fami­ly as befo­re. 
  • The tone of voice mat­ters as well. Empha­si­se that the mat­ter is not a sec­ret. 
  • Pre­pa­re to tell why you have kept it a sec­ret for so long. 
  • Be avai­lable to the teen and sup­port their reflec­tions. 


Children’s thoughts of their background 

A majo­ri­ty of children find their rela­tions­hip with their background to be neut­ral or good and they feel par­ticu­lar­ly wan­ted and antici­pa­ted. Especial­ly tho­se children that have a good and con­fi­den­tial rela­tions­hip with their parents and tho­se that have always known of their background expe­rience their donor concep­tion background as accep­table and neut­ral. Tho­se young people that find out about their background later than as 18-year-olds have desc­ri­bed fee­lings of bet­ray­al and shock more often than tho­se that found out ear­ly about their ori­gins. 

Children’s feelings towards the gamete donor 

Accor­ding to mul­tiple stu­dies the main rea­son to find out the iden­ti­ty of the donor is curio­si­ty and inte­rest in fin­ding out who the donor is. Children think it is impor­tant to find out about the donor’s looks, cha­rac­te­ris­tics, health, and often about the donor’s other children as well. Donor-concei­ved people have a need to know about the health his­to­ry of their gene­tic fami­ly so that they can find out their (and their children’s) pre­dis­po­si­tion to cer­tain here­di­ta­ry ill­nes­ses. Children have desc­ri­bed that accu­ra­te infor­ma­tion about the donor helps them crea­te a more comple­te pic­tu­re of them­sel­ves. 

Children’s right to receive information is based on the fertility treatment law 

The fer­ti­li­ty treat­ment law took effect in 2007 in Fin­land that in accor­dance with the Con­ven­tion on the Rights of the Child takes into account the best inte­rest of the child and pro­tects the child’s right to know their background. Accor­ding to the fer­ti­li­ty treat­ment law, the fer­ti­li­ty cli­nic that recei­ves the dona­tion, needs to deli­ver the infor­ma­tion of the game­te donor to the dona­tion regis­ter of the Natio­nal Super­vi­so­ry Aut­ho­ri­ty for Wel­fa­re and Health (Val­vi­ra). Val­vi­ra main­tains the dona­tion regis­ter, Luo­te­ri, of the dona­tions of game­tes and embry­os for fer­ti­li­ty treat­ments. 

Saved in the register are: 
  • The name and social secu­ri­ty num­ber of the donor 
  • The infor­ma­tion of the donor’s iden­ti­fier 
  • The con­sent and cancel­la­tion of the ack­now­led­ge­ment of pater­ni­ty 
  • Whet­her sperm, eggs, or embry­os were dona­ted. 

A child born from a dona­ted game­te has the right to find out the iden­ti­ty of the game­te donor after they turn 18. The cli­nic pro­vi­ding the treat­ment must give the infor­ma­tion of the ori­gins of the donor-concei­ved child, even if the child’s parents disal­low it. The first donor-concei­ved children born during the vali­di­ty of this law will turn 18 in the year 2025. 

NB! Even if the donor is ano­ny­mous, it is good to tell the child that the parent is pre­pa­red to inves­ti­ga­te the mat­ter with the child. The inves­ti­ga­tion can start by con­si­de­ring with the child which qua­li­ties they might have inhe­ri­ted from the donor. You can discuss with the child which qua­li­ties they sha­re with their parents and which ones they do not. 

The donor has no rights or obli­ga­tions regar­ding the child, and they have no pos­si­bi­li­ty of fin­ding out who the reci­pient or the reci­pient couple is. The reci­pient of the dona­tion (the parent) has no pos­si­bi­li­ty to find out the iden­ti­ty of the donor. 

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