It's better for children conceived by donor insemination to be told of their origins at an early age, attendees at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology conference have been told. The new findings are based on a study of offspring conceived by sperm donation that enrolled in an online questionnaire consisting of multiple-choice and open-ended questions. The study is one of the first to compare the views of offspring of donor insemination told of their origins during childhood compared with those who only found out in adulthood.
Interestingly, study author, Dr Vasanti Jadva, from the Centre for Family Research, University of Cambridge (UK), found that children born into mother-only or same-sex parent families were much more likely to be told about their origins before the age of three than were children of heterosexual parents: 63%, 56% and 9% respectively. Indeed, 33% of children in heterosexual families were told about their conception after the age of 18, compared with none in the other two types of families.
"We asked the offspring how they felt at the time they found out about their conception, excluding those that found out before the age of three as they would have been too young to recall their feelings. For all offspring, the most common feeling was curiosity, irrespective of the age at which they found out. However, there were differences according to the age at which they had been told of their conception, with those told during adulthood more likely to report feeling confused, shocked, upset, relieved, numb and angry," said Jadva.
"With regards to how offspring felt towards their mother at the time of finding out, offspring told in adolescence or adulthood were more likely to report feeling angry about being lied to and betrayal. Those told as children were more likely to state that it made no difference to how they felt towards their mother compared to those told later in life," Jadva added.
"This study shows that age of disclosure is important in determining donor offspring's feeling about their conception. It appears it is better for children to be told about their donor conception at an early age. This finding is in line with research on adoption, which also shows that children benefit from early disclosure about the circumstances of their birth," concluded Jadva.
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Source: European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology