In response to some of the internet chatter I’ve seen over the past week as people hear about our new TV show, Generation Cryo, I’d like to share some things that we at the Donor Sibling Registry have learned through our 13 years of experience of supporting and connecting more than 40,000 donor conceived people and their families.
- Parents need to be honest with their donor children, telling them the truth about their origins as early as possible. But telling is not the end of the story….
- Parents need to then be prepared for their children to be curious and to want to know more about any half siblings they might have, and also about their donors. It is an innate human desire to want to know where you come from. Just like in adoption, levels of curiosity about one’s biological parent can vary in donor conceived people. Some donor conceived people desire to see a picture, or meet the person who gave them 50% of their DNA, others are just looking for ancestral and/or medical information.
- Many non-bio parents (both moms and dads) who were initially uneasy about their child’s interest in, or desire to search for the donor (and even more uneasy with the idea of meeting him), have gracefully moved through the process, eventually realizing that there was nothing to fear. In many families, the parents and the donors have become friends and a healthy part of each others lives. Some only meeting a few times, and others becoming more integrated into a wider sense of family. It depends on the family, and there is no right or wrong way to proceed. The important part is honoring the child’s needs.
- Many donors, even those who signed up for anonymity (many had no choice) are delighted to make contact with their genetic offspring. We have more than 2000 donors on the Donor Sibling Registry who are open to mutual consent contact.
- When donor conceived people locate their donors (outside of the DSR) and give them the opportunity (choice) to connect, the great majority of donors are open to connecting with the children that they helped to create. Sometimes it’s just to update medical information, sometimes it’s for sharing pictures, and sometimes it turns into enriching friendships, or more. Many donors and their families have welcomed donor offspring into their family circle, and all have been enriched by the experience (my son Ryan’s experience!). So giving donors the opportunity to know their genetic offspring is a choice that we believe they have the right to make.
- So, being curious, searching, and connecting with half siblings and donors offers opportunities for expanding and enriching our family circles. As you follow Bree, her half siblings, and their families on their journey, have an open heart and mind.