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How to Talk to Your Child

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Perhaps you've just begun the process of exploring assisted reproduction or maybe you already have a child born through donor insemination, but wherever you are in the process at some point everyone must deal with the questions about how your family began from the most important person of all; your child.

Despite the increasingly commonplace process of donor assisted pregnancies, the dearth of information for families grown this way is discouraging. It's not like the situation for adoptive families, who have myriad websites, publications, parenting groups and children's books and curriculum.

However, that does not mean a family that grows through DI doesn't have tools. They just are harder to find. Families that have reached out to specialists and organizations to achieve a pregnancy are often quite resourceful and capable so they will be prepared for this challenge as well.

First, talk to your physician or specialist you worked with to conceive via DI. Physicians working in this field often know of resources in your area that you may not be familiar with.

Next, look it up in your phone directory and on the Web. A great place to start is with Resolve, the National Infertility Association. This group lists support groups by area and focus. Some are specifically just for DI families.

Another place to check with is Single Mothers by Choice. They also keep a listing of support groups by area. However, to get the information you need to become a member. They have a website with information on their organization.

Books for children

Let Me Explain: A Story About Donor Insemination by Jane T. Schnitter and Joanne Bowring. This book was published in 1995 by Perspectives Press and is geared to children ages 4-8. The main character in the story is being raised by a mother and father, and explains how she was conceived with the help of a sperm donor but her dad is her only dad.

Before You Were Born...Our Wish for a Baby (Donor Insemination) by Janice Grimes. This book, a 2004 publication of X, Y and Me, is an 18 page paperback written with children 3-5 years of age in mind. Again, heterosexual parents are represented in the story. While donor insemination is discussed, the precise terms of “sperm,” or “egg” are not mentioned.

Hope and Will Have a Baby: The Gift of Sperm Donation by Irene Celcer. This book, published by Graphite Press in 2007, is a 32 page paperback for children ages 4-8. This book focuses on a heterosexual couple who want to have a baby. This book is available as five different versions, (egg donation, surrogacy, embryo donation, sperm donation and adoption,) each one with a happy ending.

Tips for Talking to Your Children

  1. Start early. Don't wait for a perfect time, or for a time when you think your child can absorb all the information and process it perfectly. That time won't come! Begin with simple small introductions to the topic. You'll know you're going too far too fast when your child is trying to change the subject, rolls his eyes, or she wanders off while you're still talking.
  2. Stay comfortable. Make sure you have dealt with any of your own unresolved feelings about the donor insemination process, whether that includes complications such as infertility, being single, or being a non-traditional or homosexual couple.
  3. Always answer the questions as simply and as completely as your child desires. Giving a five-year-old a brochure from the fertility clinic isn't quite the correct approach. You want your child to be get the answers needed when needed, but avoid overkill.
  4. Make the story of your family a tradition. Write a family story book with your youngster around the toddler or preschool years, complete with photos and fun details and read it together often. This will lead to an ease and comfort that enables your child to ask more complicated questions as she grows.
  5. Avoid the family secret trap. It builds a sense of distrust and shame, and children internalize such things. “If Mommy didn't tell me about this, it must be bad. I must be bad.”
  6. Remember the most important part of your child's birth story is always how much he or she was wanted and loved, and always will be. Nothing matters more than that!

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