By admin on December 13, 2019

Are you a donor-conceived adult who has only recently discovered the truth of your conception? Perhaps your parents finally decided to tell you — or maybe you found out on your own (possibly through a DNA test). You’re probably feeling a variety of emotions, including uncertainty about how to talk to your parents in light of this new information. The following tips will help you navigate the discussion.

1. Talk to your parents.

Take some deep breaths, and try to relax. Many people have walked this path before you, and although the road can get a bit bumpy for a little while, they have all survived. Secrecy implies shame, and you have nothing to be ashamed of, so do not let the “secret” persist. Set aside time as soon as possible to discuss the situation with your parents. Talk with other close family members and friends who can provide good support.

2. Ask questions.

Ask your parents why they used a donor and what the experience was like for them. Ask them why they kept the secret. Most parents don’t tell because they’re afraid of how the truth will affect the family. Often, the non-biological parent is afraid of being looked at as not the “real” parent. You can assure your non-bio mom or dad that this news changes nothing in your relationship. Your parents will always be your parents. This knowledge doesn’t change that fact or diminish your love for the parents who loved and raised you.

3. Explain very honestly how this news has affected you.

Tell your parents what you are feeling. You might be experiencing a wide variety of emotions, including anger, sadness, confusion, or even relief. Understand and explain that your feelings are valid and to be expected — and that working through these emotions might take some time. Have patience with yourself. If you’re upset, don’t feel guilty. This was your information to have, and it was kept from you.

4. Listen.

Your parents may have made the best decisions they could with the information they had at the time. Many parents were advised to lie to everyone, including their children. Find out what they know about the donor or any half-siblings. Gathering information about the other half of your genetic identity and relatives may help you better understand yourself. Many offspring report feeling a sense of relief as they reassemble the puzzle of their physical, emotional, & intellectual selves.

5. Be willing to forgive.

You may never fully understand or agree with your parents’ reasons for keeping this information from you. However, staying angry doesn’t help you move forward. Empathy and compassion will be extremely helpful in repairing any damaged relationships. Work through your emotions, with the help of a therapist if necessary. Understand that forgiveness is the only path to true healing. It’s important for your parents to know that you can forgive them for not telling you the truth, even if this might take some time.

6. Continue the conversation.

This is not a one-time conversation. Let your parents know that you will ask them to continue the conversation as you process this new information, tell family and friends, and incorporate it into your identity. Invite your parents to walk beside you as you explore your genetic roots and figure out what it means to you and your life to be donor-conceived. There is great opportunity for a stronger family bond if you can keep the lines of communication open. Let your parents love and support you.

7. Accept your new reality.

Feel good about the fact that your family will now have a basis in truth. Understand that any curiosities you have about your half-siblings and/or your unknown biological parent, your ancestry, and your medical history are normal and to be expected. It’s an innate human desire to want to know where we come from. You can’t change the past, but you can control how you move forward. This is your story to own and share as you see fit.

8. If you are curious…

If you do desire to know more about your donor family, give yourself permission to search for the information and the genetic relatives you’re curious about. Your curiosity is not a betrayal to your parents, particularly your non-biological parent, in any way. Adding new family members or ancestral information doesn’t take away from or diminish the importance of your family of origin. Let your parents know how important it is for you to have their support as you look to discover more about your ancestry, your medical background, and your genetic relatives. Join the Donor Sibling Registry for connection and support.

More DSR Resources

For more offspring (and parent) resources, visit the DSR Counseling page and our other Support pages. If you aren’t already a DSR member, please join today (https://www.donorsiblingregistry.com) to connect with your (or your child’s) genetic relatives.


By admin on December 03, 2019

Are you a parent of a donor-conceived adult who is only now finding out the truth of their conception, either because you put off telling them until now or because they’ve discovered the truth on their own? If so, you may be nervous about how to approach this delicate conversation with your child. The following tips will help you navigate the discussion.

8 Tips If You Are Planning to Tell Soon…

1. When is the best time to tell? Now.

This is not your secret to carry. There will never be a “perfect” time, so the sooner, the better. Make sure you’ve done the psychological work necessary to be emotionally capable to have this conversation, e.g., counseling or soul searching on your own. Take some deep breaths, and try to relax. Many people have walked this path before you, and they have all survived!

2. Tell a little about your story and how you came to use a donor.

You’re setting the tone. Try to keep the conversation light, and use some humor if you can. You need to be as grounded and as level-headed as possible for this conversation because it lays the groundwork for all future conversations.

3. Explain very honestly why you haven’t told before now.

Don’t be defensive, and don’t use your story as an excuse. “We forgot about it” isn’t a good excuse, either. Your child wants to hear the emotion behind why you didn’t tell. What were you or your spouse afraid of? This can help your child process through their own emotions, which might include anger, sadness, confusion, or even relief.

4. Let your child know that you made the best decisions you could with the information you had at the time.

Explain what you were told by your doctor, including anything you know about the donor. Tell your child how it has felt to carry this information as a secret. Tell them what you’ve recently come to learn about the importance of honesty. Tell them who else knows.

5. Most Important: Apologize. Own it.

This was their information to know, and you kept it from them. Keep apologizing. This can allow them to move freely through their emotions without getting stuck in anger. Do not ask them to keep the “secret,” because secrecy implies shame. The shame of infertility should not be passed along to your child as the shame of donor conception.

6. Be ready to continue the conversation.

This is not a one-time conversation. It’s very important that your child knows that this is a welcomed, ongoing conversation and that you will be there by their side as they process this new information, tell family and friends, and incorporate it into their identity. Gently broach the topic regularly if your child doesn’t, so they know you’re there to help them understand what this new information means to them and their life.

7. Telling is just the first step.

Make sure your child knows that any curiosities they have about their half-siblings and/or their unknown biological parent, their ancestry, and their medical history are normal and to be expected. If you are not fully comfortable with this, it’s important that you understand why, so that you can continue to evolve in this area. Be honest as you communicate to your child about it.

8. If your child is curious…

If your child desires to know more about their origins, offer to walk side by side with them to find the information and genetic relatives they feel it’s important to know about. Make sure they understand that their curiosity is not a betrayal to you in any way. This is especially important for the non-biological parent. It’s important for your child to know that many people have also walked this path before them. You can point them to the Donor Sibling Registry for support.

8 Tips If Your Child Just Found Out on Their Own…

1. Apologize. Own it.

This was your child’s information to know, and you kept it from them. Keep apologizing. This can allow them to move freely through their emotions without getting stuck in anger. Do not ask them to keep the “secret,” because secrecy implies shame. The shame of infertility should not be passed along to your child as the shame of donor conception.

2. Tell a little about your story and how you came to use a donor.

Try to keep the conversation light, and use some humor if you can. You need to be as grounded and as level-headed as possible as you lay the groundwork for every future conversation.

3. Explain very honestly why you didn’t tell.

Don’t be defensive, and don’t use your story as an excuse. “We forgot about it” isn’t a good excuse, either. Your child wants to hear the emotion behind why you didn’t tell. What were you or your spouse afraid of? This can help your child process through their own emotions, which might include anger, sadness, confusion, or even relief.

4. Let your child know that you made the best decisions you could with the information you had at the time.

Explain what you were told by your doctor, including anything you know about the donor. Tell your child how it has felt to carry this information as a secret. Tell them what you’ve recently come to learn about the importance of honesty. Tell them who else knows.

5. Be ready to continue the conversation.

This is not a one-time conversation. It’s very important that your child knows that this is a welcomed, ongoing conversation and that you will be there by their side as they process this new information, tell family and friends, and incorporate it into their identity.

6. Make sure your child knows that any curiosities they have about their unknown donor family are normal and to be expected.

Make sure your child knows that you honor and support their desire to know their unknown genetic relatives. If you are not fully comfortable with this, it’s important that you understand why, so that you can continue to evolve in this area. Be honest as you communicate to your child about it.

7. If your child is curious…

If your child desires to know more about their ancestry, medical background, and close genetic relatives, offer to walk side by side with them to find the information and people they feel it’s important to know about. It’s crucial that they don’t think of their curiosity as a betrayal to you in any way. This is especially important for the non-biological parent. It’s important for your child to know that many people have walked this path before them. You can point them to the Donor Sibling Registry for support.

8. Keep the conversation going. Keep apologizing for not telling your child sooner and for them having to find out in such a shocking manner.

Take some deep breaths, and try to relax. Many people have walked this path before you, and they have all survived! Feel good about the fact that your family will now have a basis in truth. Gently broach the topic regularly if your child doesn’t, so they know you’re there to continue to help them understand what this new information means to them and their life.

More DSR Resources

For more parent and offspring resources, visit the DSR Counseling page and our other Support pages. If you aren’t already a DSR member, please join today (https://www.donorsiblingregistry.com) to connect with your or your child’s genetic relatives.


By admin on August 10, 2019
Illustration: Hannah Ekua Buckman

Sometimes, donor-conceived people claim that they’re not curious about or interested in meeting their half-siblings or their other biological parent (donor). I’ve found that when we dig a little deeper into the issue, we often find that this ambiguity (or outright disinterest) is sometimes rooted in:

  1. A feeling that any curiosity they might have will be perceived as a betrayal of sorts to the parents who are raising them, particularly to the non-bio parent
  2. Thinking that their parent(s) would disapprove of any curiosity and/or a desire to meet, or that parents would be disappointed in some way (especially if parents have minimized/negated/dismissed the importance /significance of the child’s unknown biological parent)
  3. Fear of not being good enough, or not having accomplished enough, or not being mentally stable enough, or just not being at the “right place” in life
  4. Fear of not being accepted
  5. Fear of learning that the biological parent who contributed 50% of their DNA will be flawed in some way, which might then impact their own sense of personal identity
  6. Concern that the sibling(s) they’ve grown up with don’t approve
  7. Fear that meeting genetic relatives will somehow take away from their current family relationships, family system, and family stability
  8. The clear message that offspring have received from their parents (both action and inaction can speak louder than words) that the donor or half-siblings would not be a welcomed addition to the family
  9. Worry that they’ll be disappointed with their new relatives
  10. Worry that they won’t have enough in common
  11. Concern about not having the emotional bandwidth to deal with a meeting, or with incorporating new relatives into their lives
  12. Worry that friends and family will be judgmental — e.g., “Those people are not your family”

When parents can’t easily talk about their child’s donor family in an inclusive way, the message sent can be that the topic is off-limits.

I encourage all parents to put their own fears and hesitations aside when exploring this conversation and emotional dynamic with your kids. We want our kids to have the space and support needed to explore this other side of themselves and these new genetic relatives.

We have too many donor-conceived people joining the DSR behind their parent’s backs and too many who call for phone consults after connecting with their donor family members via DNA, who feel that their desire to know more about their half-siblings and genetic parents would be too upsetting or hurtful to their parents.

If you have a young or adult child who insists that they don’t want to meet donor family members, I suggest opening up a gentle dialog with them, just to make sure that none of these deeper issues or fears are present. If they are present, I see that as an opportunity to dialog more deeply on the issues that can affect their relationships and their own identities. In the long run, these conversations can deepen and strengthen your relationship with your child as you support them while they explore their new familial relationships.