Read books that introduce the ways that kids join families.
Todd Parr has written several books about families and the love they share. The websites hopeandwill.com and XYandMe.com have wonderful stories about donor conceptions—and remind your child that this is how he joined your family.
Create a lifebook for your child, and read it often.
Sections should include the following: pictures of parents wanting a baby, thoughts on your decision-making, the family or donors that gave their genetics for the child’s life, thoughts on their decision-making, the clinic where you received assistance, the doctor’s office, waiting for a positive pregnancy test, pictures taken throughout the pregnancy and birth, and pictures of the child coming home. The message is clear—we wanted to have children in our family, we worked hard for our children to arrive, and we accepted and celebrated the help of many people.
As your child realizes the genetic connection he shares with someone else, and not with you, there may be a time of sadness for both of you. Be there for him. Continue to reassure him that you love him, and let him know that it’s OK to be sad. Tell him that you are sad, too, that he is not genetically related to you. Clarify your child’s permanence in your family: “Family is family because they choose to love each other forever. Some families are genetically related and others aren’t.”
The middle years and beyond will bring new questions, as tweens and teens shift from gathering facts to forming their identity. An honest and trusting relationship, laid in early childhood, will help your child find his roots as he enters adulthood.
Kris Probasco, LCSW, LSCSW, has worked with birth, genetic-donor, and adoptive families at the Kansas-based Adoption & Fertility Resources for 20 years. Megan Fabian, BA, works closely with adoptive and genetic parents as the Snowflakes Program Manager at Nightlight Christian Adoptions, in Anaheim Hills, California.