Is donor conception right for you?
Single women considering assisted conception usually put in a great deal of forethought: it is an arduous process, you will probably have to use the private sector and incur significant costs, and the implications will last the whole of your child’s lifetime. Some women may have thought about asking a male friend to help or engaging in casual sex, fostering or adopting a child, but decided to try the clinical option to achieve a family of their own.
Women usually get to this point some time in their late thirties, when their fertile years are running out and they have not found a suitable partner. Some will reach this point when they are younger, and may find they are asked to justify making this choice before they have given the conventional options a fair chance.
Many women face this decision and still hesitate. Moving forward may involve abandoning long-held dreams of a traditional family, and facing anxiety about what donor conception could mean to the children. This is where reading and hearing about the experience of others can help you to answer questions and feel reassured that this route can be a positive option.
There are several things you can do:
- Join the DCNetwork. Since the DCNetwork’s inception in 1992, we have believed the most important part of our work is breaking the isolation by putting people in touch with each other. See Benefits of Membership
- Contact other single women members from the Contact List you will have received when you join and consider meeting up if there is a Support Group in your area, or starting a new group.
- Come on a Preparation for DC Parenthood workshop. These are for people who have still to make up their minds if donor conception is right for them, and for those who have chosen to go ahead but want to learn more. All DCN events provide dedicated space for single women to meet together, and many workshops are run separately for single women, who make up nearly a third of the total membership.
- Read the appropriate Letter in the Planning a Family series that are aimed at would-be parents of donor conceived children
- Borrow one or more of the books/DVD’s in our library. If you are based in the UK or Ireland you can borrow them free of charge. Also download or buy the Telling and Talking booklet for parents of children aged 0 – 7. The beginning sections are essential reading for people making the decision to go ahead or not.
- Talk to friends and family & listen to their reactions: you may have to tread gently to gain their support, or you may find an instantly positive response. Whatever the case, consider your situation: going through treatment and raising a child alone is challenging and there will inevitably be times when you need to rely on the support of others. If you have friends with children the same age, they will understand, but if you don’t, you will need to look around and build new networks.
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What about the child?
At the time of making this choice and while undergoing treatment, most of our focus will be on achieving a successful pregnancy. However it’s important to think ahead and consider how we might explain our choices to our children, as a four year old who just wants to understand, a ten year old who just wants to be like everybody else, or later on as a teenager who needs to consolidate her or his identity and distinguish her/himself from you. Try to put yourself in their shoes and think of the questions they might ask. You need to build up your confidence that you are making the best of the choices available to you, so you can present them to your children with pride, and they can also feel proud and confident in their origins.
What can help you keep your child’s needs in mind:
- Join DCN and talk with single women who are raising donor conceived children about how they made their decisions and what life is like in a ‘choice mum’ family.
- Join a support group for single women in your area, or try to get one started so that you can share experiences, and if you are lucky, provide a community of others for you and your children.
- Read the Telling and Talking booklets for insights into how children change in their understanding of their beginnings as they grow up.
- Read accounts from donor conceived adults about how they feel about their origins. Note the differences between those whose parents seemed comfortable with their decisions and were open with their children, and those who only learned of their donor conception later in life.
These stories can be found on this site, in many of the books available in our Library and on other web sites.
- Consider joining a register such as the Donor Sibling Registry (in the USA) in case you can contact other families with children born from the same donor.
If you need any information you can’t find on the website or would like to discuss any of this, please don’t hesitate to contact the DCN office or the co-ordinator for single women, whose details are provided when you join.