By the time you’ve found your egg donor, worked with an agency, a fertility clinic, completed your donor egg cycle and finally welcomed your child into the world, you feel like a fertility pro! But one question often persists: How do I talk to my children about egg donation? We connected with Lisa Schuman, a top New York therapist specializing in parenting donor-conceived children, for her advice navigating this subject. It feels scary, but you can do it!
Lisa recommends beginning these discussions early. Studies show that being open with your kids about where they come from results in a more well-adjusted child, and eliminates the negative impact of discovering a secret later in life. Speaking with them early allows you to frame the conversation around what matters – your love for them and your unique family.
Lisa says that when you talk with a young child or toddler about egg donation, “it is more for you than your child.” It’s a way for you to begin to share the unique circumstances of their birth, and practice for more in-depth conversations in the future. Young children are told lots of things about storks and their parents loving each other that they don’t completely understand. Speaking with them about egg donation is daunting, but it really isn’t much different.
Keep it age-appropriate
Children under the age of five won’t understand fertility hormones, zygotes, and IVF. Lisa says that it’s key to keep these conversations age appropriate. “Start general, then become more specific as your child gets older.”
Lisa says that you can prepare your child for these conversations by “telling them that there are all different ways to have a family. Some families have two dads and some families have one mom. Some families live in a house and some families live in an apartment.” By making sure they know early that families are diverse, they’ll understand that their conception simply means that you are another unique family. Then you can introduce the concepts of egg donation, surrogacy and more as they grow older.
Get expert help
If you’re just not sure how to start having these conversations or want to prepare yourself with expert guidance, there are plenty of resources at your disposal. Lisa offers free consultations for specialist advice and guidance, and your clinic will typically have a list of specialized fertility therapists you can speak with. There are also countless books, articles, studies, and blogs devoted to these topics.
We know that these conversations can be scary, but kids are more understanding and resilient than we realize – and you have a whole community behind you. Reach out to experts or others in your shoes for moral support and guidance, and take a deep breath. You’ve got this!