Picture it: you planned to meet someone at a party, only to arrive and realize they are not there. Do you go from room to room looking for them? Or step back outside to wait for them? Does it make you feel uneasy being amongst others who clearly know each other at this party and here you are, all alone?
That can be how a donor-conceived child feels when no one shares their story with them of how they came to be. A child can feel lost if they do not have a sense of their own identity or truly know they are accepted by their family.
Children are incredibly observant, smart, and inquisitive. And just like all children, they will start asking questions as they grow older. As a parent of a donor-conceived child, it is important for you to be prepared to answer these questions. What makes a family? What can the parents do to show a donor-conceived child they are accepted, despite the differences?
Children need to hear the truth. As a parent of a donor-conceived child, we must first accept the truth ourselves. Not being able to conceive a child naturally can be heart-wrenching. And mourning such a loss is an important part of the healing process. Once the storm of tears has been weathered, things will look different and new possibilities may arise.
Think of your donor-conceived child as an answer to prayer—a gift if you will. Even a four-year-old can understand the joy of receiving something they have wanted for some time. Share that happiness with your child. Let them know how thankful you are for having them in your life. And being a donor-conceived child is normal today—they are not alone. They are to be celebrated. Convey your excitement. Teach them skills that complement their natural talents, making them a fully rounded individual.
When they are little, share their story with those that will help them embrace their origin in a positive way. As they get older, let them decide who to share their story with and when. Help them learn about their heritage, perhaps through such organizations as the Donor Sibling Registry.
Above all let them know they are loved. Here is an acronym to help you remember how to do just that:
- L Give them your attention and let them express their heart.
- O Be aware of their needs and be open to helping them when and wherever you can.
- V Celebrate their life and the opportunity you must be a part of it.
- E Win or lose, they need you to be their biggest cheerleader. Express your belief in them.
Remember, you’ve been given an incredible opportunity, an incredible gift. Embrace it! Learn more about embryo donation and adoption, by visiting EmbryoAdoption.org.