Hi, I’m Carly.
My Mum had me through shared embryo donation. This is my story so far.
I don’t have a Dad. No, really. I don’t have a Dad who disappeared, separated from my Mum or went through a tragedy. This is something I found myself explaining growing up, particularly around the age 8-10 when kids become more conscious of things around them and notice differences. I never minded explaining my story as I found it quite amusing - the surprise on the kids’ faces - and would sometimes even raise the topic myself.
But one thing I found hard to understand was the pity and sadness that often came from other kids who would say things like “But don’t you want a Dad?”. And truth be told, I really didn’t mind because I’d always been happy with my Mum and it’s all I knew, so I never felt like anything was missing. I think their questions forced me to start thinking about it myself and then I possibly became more intrigued by it and started to question my Mum more.
I don’t have a first memory of being told as I’ve known my whole life. I do, however, remember the ‘Our Story’ book which sat with my other bedtime storybooks on the bookshelf. Gradually I took more notice as I became older and was developing my identity. I think it was around the time of Sex Ed (between about 9 and 12) when I came to understand what sperm and eggs were and I began to be more interested and understand better.
I remember during Sex Ed when everyone felt repulsed by the thought of sex, I felt privileged and remember telling a friend “My Mum didn’t do that to have me!” with her replying “Lucky!”. When I first understood properly what donor conception was I understood I had a sperm donor, as the obvious absence was there was no father in our family. My Mum decided to tell me I was actually both egg and sperm donation a few years later as she didn’t want to confuse me when I was really little.
I don’t mean my mum kept this from me, as she had told me but I hadn’t really taken it in so she left that for a while. However, it was at this point I realised that indeed I had none of my family’s genetics, almost like an adopted person. However, my Mum was my birth mother and my donors had similar genetics to my family, so although I don’t share my family’s genes, I have similar looks as well as similar traits and characteristics.
I also realised shared embryo donation meant that two separate families had shared eggs and sperm to get embryos each donating the rest (i.e me) which meant I had biological siblings. Some people prefer to call them siblings, my name for them is a donor sibling. But, of course, I shall never meet them as that would also lead me to the donors.
My donors are anonymous due to the law at that time and the only possible way of discovering them would be if there was a relative who had taken a DNA test or if they removed their anonymity. I don’t particularly mind this though, as I’m not sure about any relationship I could possibly have with either of them even if I did meet them. I personally feel it would be quite awkward as my only interest would be if we look alike, just from curiosity of how the genetics work. Actually, I feel this is something that relates more to meeting the “donor siblings” which I am not entirely opposed to but again I would not be looking for a relationship with them (though my Mum has said she would be fine if I was curious and is very understanding).
The one thing that does slightly frustrate me though is the fact that the law about anonymity was changed in 2005 and I was born in 2004 and though I have little interest in contacting the donors I do believe it is a right and unfair to others my age and older. My donor conceived friend who is born in 2005 (after the law changed) and her younger brother who is also donor conceived do have that choice.
I have met other children who are donor conceived through DC Network events such as the conference and local meet ups. My mum used to organise our local DCN meet up in Surrey. Through that I have met various people and heard their experiences, some unfortunate. In particular I became friends with two girls, both a year or two younger than me, from two different families. One of these girls told me she had been bullied at her school about it because the children didn’t understand, and this saddened me. I think this is why it’s a good idea for children conceived through donor conception to meet others like them because if they choose to they can confide to others. And those children will also understand if they would prefer not to discuss it with others. But most of our conversations didn’t really involve donor conception at all, it just happened to be how we met and was a shared part of us.
I am 15. Recently in a history lesson our teacher told us we have been on this earth since our mums were born, as a baby female is born with all her eggs. I found this funny and discussed it with my Mum because of course I don’t know my donor’s age so I couldn’t add it to mine. My Mum then told me something very interesting which was that I was frozen (which I already knew) but in 1999, meaning a couple of things. First, my donor siblings would be approximately 5 years older than me but additionally I had been around since 1999 frozen as an embryo. I jokingly told one of my friends that in a way I was technically 19 years old, which baffled them for a while at how that was possible and then I explained it and they were as fascinated as I was and their reaction was extremely funny.
Recently I have taken an interest in doing a DNA test such as Ancestry or 23andMe out of curiosity. Not to find the donors obviously. But I want to do it as I am curious about my heritage as over the years I have been told I look German, Russian, Spanish, Swedish and multiple other things. I assume I likely have Welsh heritage as the bank my mum got me from was in Wales but I don’t know for certain so I’d really love to take a DNA test for that reason. I am a bit worried about discovering someone genetically related to me, as I don’t want to, so I have been looking into a geographical-only package. I’m proud of being donor conceived as I feel wanted because I know my Mum had to go to more effort than most parents to have me, just like many parents who have used some form of donor have. I take pleasure in educating any of my friends who are curious about our family.
It’s a really interesting topic!