Donor Conception for Life: Psychoanalytic Reflections on New Ways of Conceiving the Family is edited by DC Network member Katherine Fine and published by Karnac (a specialist publisher in the psychoanalytic world). Kate sets the scene in her introductory chapter by emphasising that this is not a book just about procreation – the acquisition of someone else’s gametes in order to make a child – but about the making and raising of a family. More controversially she acknowledges that in the making of this family, the genetic and psychological legacy of the gamete donor’s family becomes part of the reality of the (new) family for life. In order to illustrate a very contemporary experience of being part of a donor conception family Kate reports on her conversation with two 15 year old girls who discovered at age 12 that they shared a sperm donor. Both are only children, one being raised in a solo mum family and the other growing up with two mums. Linda and Susie call each other sisters “because it’s easier”. Because her mum has been involved with the Donor Conception Network for a long time, Susie has a higher level of awareness about the existence of her donor and the possibility of half-siblings, but both girls have found that their curiosity about their donor is less since they have found each other. It is a fascinating and reassuring glimpse at the richness that such relationships can bring.
The book is then divided into four parts with contributions from a range of authors who have all spent much time thinking about the emotional impact of donor conception for many years. Some chapters are already published articles and others were specially written for this book. Diane Ehrensaft, Amy Schofield, Olivia Montuschi and Ken Daniels (amongst others) are contributing authors and Kate and her colleague Tamsin Mitchell write about the Preparation for Donor Conception workshops run by DCN.
A knowledge of some psychoanalytic language is helpful for one or two chapters but is not essential, the majority of this book is suitable for all readers.
This book comes highly recommended by the Donor Conception Network for anyone who is thinking of or has created a family through donor conception.