Are you a parent to a miracle, donor egg baby? Or perhaps you are in the middle of your egg donation journey? This webinar is definitely for you if you are expanding your family through assisted reproduction technology.
EggDonationFriends’ motto is SHARING IS CARING. Today we have the pleasure to share with you our unique webinar with Carmen Martinez Jover, a fertility coach, author, artist, and international lecturer
– “How to tell your children that they were conceived via egg donation.”
Should you tell your kids how they were conceived? At what age is it best to do it? How to introduce your children to the topic of IVF, egg and sperm donation? EggDonationFriends have teamed up with Carmen Martinez Jover to bring you guidance, advice, and support
to help you have that important talk with your children.
Telling children how they were conceived
Telling children they were conceived using an egg donor can leave parents feeling anxious and overwhelmed; when is the best time to tell them and is there a correct way? In this webinar, Carmen Martinez Jover, fertility coach, author, artist and international speaker, explores the questions frequently raised, by parents, and shares suggestions, based on her own personal experiences, of how to introduce children to the beautiful concept of their miraculous beginning.
Trying to have a child is typically portrayed as something which is easy to do. However, for many it can be a long and arduous journey. Couples start off by trying the natural way and, if no pregnancy transpires, end up on the path of IVF, which, unfortunately, doesn’t always provide the positive outcome longed for.
It’s upsetting and heart-breaking when couples realise that something so perceivably simple, as a sperm meeting an egg and continuing to grow, refuses to happen, even with the aid of medical science.
Whilst the use of donated eggs can provide an increased chance of pregnancy the choice isn’t always an easy one to make. Selecting a donor may be linked to a sense of grief, surrounding a woman’s own fertility, and can create additional stress and sorrow, as well as feelings of excitement and hope; it’s easy to see why infertility is often described as an emotional roller coaster.
Carmen herself was unable to conceive and, as egg donation wasn’t an option when she was trying for her family, she adopted.
Alongside the physical journey, Carmen also describes infertility as an inner journey too; one which forces individuals to learn more about themselves in order to become the parents they were meant to be. Research has shown that the parents of medically conceived children create an extremely positive and caring upbringing.
For couples who get that positive pregnancy test result, following donor egg IVF, it will often feel like a dream come true. Holding a baby, who has been so difficult to have, is an immensely happy moment. Carmen explains it’s therefore perfectly understandable that new parents won’t necessarily want to spend their time thinking about how to discuss the intricacies of egg donation with their miracle child.
After everything they have gone through, to reach this moment, parents don’t want to take away any joy or, further down the line, upset their child’s happiness, self-esteem and confidence.
These days, modern families regularly come in many differing forms having been created in a whole range of ways. IVF and/or ICSI are more common than ever and, if it’s not an egg donation conception, couples or single mothers could just as easily have used a sperm donor, or even a donated embryo.
Carmen advises that parents should feel proud of how their family was formed and proud of their journey to conception.
In order to be more relaxed when talking about donor conception, she believes that couples need to focus on fully accepting the situation themselves; if parents are wholly comfortable with the way they conceived, then the child will be too. For anyone struggling with this aspect then external support and help is readily available.
From her own experience, Carmen found that it also helped to properly look at other families. When she did, she discovered that even biologically conceived offspring do not always look like their parents or share the same interests, hobbies, likes or dislikes.
She was able to find great peace in understanding that those things all cease to matter in the end, choosing to remember that the ‘how’ wasn’t important, but the fact she had become a mother was.
As knowledge in assisted reproduction has increased, so too has research into cells and genes. Epigenetics is a new type of science which is challenging the way scientists think about the body’s heritable phenotype changes. Phenotypes are the observable characteristics of an individual and epigenetics studies changes which are caused by a modification of gene expression, rather than the alteration of the genetic code itself. Put simply, whilst an individual’s DNA sequencing cannot be altered, it is now
recognised that the environment, and more specifically an individual’s perception of the environment, can affect cellular and physiological phenotypic traits.
Based on these studies, Carmen states that the most important thing parents need to understand is that, rather than how a child was conceived, it is the actions of the parents which will eventually form the child’s own beliefs and behaviours. For further reading, she suggests; The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton
Carmen also recommends that all parents of donor conceived children read the works of Susan Golombok
. Susan is a Professor of Psychology and a leading authority on the effects of non-traditional families and children’s development. She has been researching for the past four decades and has concluded that donor conceived families are absolutely no different to any others out there.
So when should parents tell their children they were conceived with the help of a donor, and do they really need to know?
Research, in this field, shows that children whose parents begin to talk to them about their donor conception, at an early age, appear to integrate this information more naturally into their developing sense of identity. Being told from a younger age ensures it simply becomes a normal and fully accepted part of who they are. It was reported that children told about their genetic history, for the first time during their adolescence or adulthood, were more likely to endure psychological distress.
As much as it might feel incredibly tough to tell a child they were conceived using a donor, Carmen warns against non-disclosure and secrecy. She advises there’s always a risk of accidental disclosure and it is infinitely better for children to hear this information from their parents, rather than mistakenly being told by someone else.
Nowadays, there are a wide range of resources available for helping to explain donor conception to youngsters, and Carmen enjoys using storytelling as a tool. In most families books are shared, nightly, between parents and their children, so why not read bedtime stories around donor conception? Reading together not only helps any children to understand how their family was created, it also helps mothers and fathers find the confidence needed to discuss the topic more freely and with ease.
There are numerous books, aimed at pre-school children, and beyond, to teach them about donor conception. Carmen, herself, has also written many, some which can be personalised with parents’ and children’s names, making the story even more unique and relatable.
At the end of the day, Carmen explains, children are children and ask only children’s questions.
Parents are definitely not required to initially give a full scientific explanation, including all the facts and data at once! She suggests starting slowly and gently, making sure the child is not overloaded with too much information. Parents should always aim to keep it simple and relaxed; whilst it may have been a complicated journey to their conception, children don’t need an explanation to match. Finally, Carmen advises all parents to follow their hearts, lead conversations with love and always remain proud of how their family was, so miraculously, created.