Guest Blog: by Lavon Peters

If there’s one thing I’ve learned since becoming a parent, it’s that you can’t control how your children feel — about anything. This is especially true if your child is donor-conceived. You might have firm opinions and feelings about your family situation, but your child’s feelings are their own … and your child’s feelings don’t necessarily mirror yours.

Many parents who used a donor to conceive claim that their child isn’t interested in knowing anything about their donor or possible half-siblings. But this is frequently the parent’s own projection. The parent might be nervous about how they conceived or anxious about their own relationship with their child. Parent often fear what these new family connections might mean, and how those new connections might affect their carefully constructed family unit.

However, parents need to put aside their own insecurities and fears in order to really listen to what their children want and need. All people have an innate desire to know who they are, which includes where — and whom — they come from. Assuming that parents are honest with their children about their donor conception (which is a whole other issue!), at some point those children will express curiosity about their biological parent, medical history, ancestry, and/or other close genetic relatives such as half-siblings.

Parents must also understand that their children’s feelings will change over time. A child’s interest in their donor or half-siblings may increase as they mature — or might decrease as the child seeks to establish their own identity, separate from family.

In addition, not all the children in a family will have the same level of interest in their donor or half-siblings. Even among my own three kids — who have all known about their donor status since birth and have had access to their half-siblings since my oldest was age 5 — there isn’t a consensus regarding their donor or half-siblings. My oldest (21) has had email contact with our donor but hasn’t met him. My youngest (16) has met the donor but otherwise hasn’t been in contact with him. And my middle child (19) has neither met nor been in contact with the donor, although she does belong to a Facebook group that includes the donor. All three of my kids have met various half-siblings, but only my oldest maintains an ongoing relationship with them. I assume this will change as my children also change and grow — and I know it’s my job to support my kids, wherever they are on that path.

That’s the thing about having donor-conceived children — or any children! As parents, we don’t get to decide how they feel. Our job is simply to guide and encourage them in their emotional development. Donor-conceived children need their parents’ support as they navigate their own complicated feelings about how they came to be, and what it means to them as individuals.

If you need guidance in helping your donor-conceived child sort through their feelings, check out the Donor Sibling Registry. Our DSR Counseling page is a great place to start, and our DSR Families and Donor Offspring pages provide additional resources. We’ve also conducted a lot of research on donor offspring; to read about their perspectives, see the DSR Research page.