Australian Donor Conception Forum
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Author Topic: What / How to tell?  (Read 9462 times)
Fennel
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« on: July 11, 2008, 12:07:20 AM »

This is a simple open question to donor offspring that Ive been pondering, and thought you might offer some insights. As a sperm donor, and father of 2 young (under 5) daughters, Im coming to face the issue of what exactly I tell them ( perhaps in the next few years)  of their 'half-sisters / brothers'.
My first thought was something like "You have some other cousins you havent met yet, but probably will someday", which (since they have cousins) gives them a reference as to what it means and the kind of relationship they might oneday have with DO). Alternatively I could say something like "When Dad was younger, he decided to help a lady get a baby of her own, and that baby is growing up just like you... ( and oneday you might meet them etc)."
At 5 -6 years old, Im not inclined to confuse them with "..You have other brothers /sisters you might meet oneday.." As I doubt they'd grasp the meaning of why they cant meet now, given their current understanding of a sibling.

Regardless of these options, as they reach a more mature age, I intend to develop the actual truth, and explain much more.
Part of the reason for my question is an increasing liklihood of DO wishing to contact / meet with me & possibly my family.
Another alternative is (up to , say 7-8 years old) let them meet their half-siblings without being aware of the fact.

I believe what & how parents do / dont tell can be an emotive issue for DO, so please keep in mind Im new to this and am simply looking for the best approach for all concerned.

If possible, it would be great to hear how other donors have handled this issue with their own sons and daughters, what approaches they'd suggest.
Thanks.
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dadams
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« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2008, 01:20:36 AM »

I don't know if us offspring are the best to answer this question as we have not been in your position.
But as you have put forth the question I'll throw my 2 cents in seeing I have children about the same age as yours. Children are able to comprehend a lot more than we give them credit for.
For example my dad passed away when I was 10. I had shown my daughter his photo, I also have a stepfather. When my daughter was 2.5 years of age she was going through the where do certain features come from (which parent). She asked me who my father was. Without even telling her she knew that Pa was not my father and that the man in the photo did not fit the bill of what she came to know as a father to be as he was not like me in anyway. She had already summised that there was someone else. This was the hardest point in my DC life. Here I was not able to give her the man that she wanted to know and it still hurts incredibly deeply that I cannot give him to her because she did not ask to have this kinship separated from her.
Does she understand the whole problem to the same extent as an adult, of course not, but it didn't stop her understanding some of the basics.

My concern would be telling them one thing now then changing that at a later point. It may set a bad precedent in that when you tell them other things in the future, in their minds they may be asking will that then also change.
While I certainly understand the concerns about whether or not they truly understand something to the same level we do, I would be more inclined to follow along the same lines that parents of dc are told to tell their children about their conception. Don't lie about it, just use baby steps and break it down in small words that they can digest in small pieces and then fill in the gaps as they get older.

In my above story I have not told my daughter all the details about me being dc. Is this hypocritical - maybe (we have had other things to deal with in the meantime - family death etc), but the day will come shortly and there is no way of sugar coating it and I will not lie about it.

As I said just 2 cents (which is probably more than what the above is worth).
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Quinny
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« Reply #2 on: July 14, 2008, 12:41:03 AM »

Hi Fennel,

I like the sound of the second comment you mentioned; "When Dad was younger..."

However I haven't been in your position and I can't remember very much at all from when I was 5 or 6 years old.

I think that just saying something would be good to open the door, so to speak, because I think you may get some follow up questions which will allow you to explain more to them.
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Donor conceived adult from Perth, Western Australia. Searching for a donor who donated to Dr Colin Douglas-Smith in 1976.
magusman
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« Reply #3 on: July 14, 2008, 02:27:30 AM »

I dealt with this situation in a fairly casual way with my 2 daughters from my first marriage.  When my second wife became pregnant, my daughters (then aged 14 and 16) wanted to know how many more children I wanted to have.  In that conversation I mentioned that I was a sperm donor when I was younger, so I already had another 16 offspring out there somewhere. That brought a thoughtful silence to the conversation for a minute or 2.  I then went on to say that if and when they decided to settle down with someone, they should have a quiet word with that person's mother to make sure that their partner was not conceived through DI, because if so that would require some further investigation.  Another thoughtful silence followed that.  Since then their attitude has been that they have been rather amused by the idea that they have 18 brothers and sisters (counting my 2 young sons from my second marriage). Occasionally they ask the odd question, such as whether they can contact their 16 half-siblings, how old might they be, where do I think they might be living etc.  But overall they just accept that at one time I was a sperm donor wanting to help others, just as I also donate blood, and it is no big deal.
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Donor No. 16 and 18, Flinders Medical Centre, 1979 - 1987, 16 offspring.
dadams
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« Reply #4 on: July 14, 2008, 04:25:25 AM »

Thanks for the input Magus. Always good to hear perspectives from others who have already trodden a certain path so to speak.
It is difficult for me to fathom the reactions of your daughters from what you have written, but given the fact that they have at times asked some questions might lead me to believe that it may be more of a deal to them than to you.
I'm certainly not insinuating this to be the case at all, it is just that this whole area is so clouded with a huge rainbow of various emotions and thoughts by all involved. And at times particularly with the younger people they may also suppress certain feelings for fear of hurting their parents.
It is something that I have seen increasing evidence of in that even within a given family the views of each family member can be completely different. eg some will feel that it is no big deal (such as yourself) while other with feel that it is a huge deal.
Cheers
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Daven
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« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2008, 11:27:13 AM »

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« Last Edit: June 25, 2011, 08:39:09 AM by Fiona » Logged
Jet
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« Reply #6 on: July 25, 2009, 02:57:51 AM »

I was told when I was 9 , by my Nana and my Mother that I was concieved by Sperm Donation.

I don't remember exactley how they broke the news but remember being told that "a very special man gave Mum (and her then husband) a very special gift, and that was you "(me).

I've tried to think of a scenario to help them understand, but can't. Other then to say that when you were younger, you helped a lady (or couples) have a baby, and one day you might get to meet them.

I had a best friend at Intermediate that was told when she was 5 that she was adopted.

My best advise would be to keep it simple

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