A few entries to Blogging for LGBTQ Families Day this year raised the topic of discussing sperm and egg donors with children. Here’s what they had to say.
Jen at Adventurous Moms discusses the process she and her spouse went through to choose a donor—concluding, however, that “I have learned that I probably shouldn’t have worried so much about choosing the ‘right’ donor. Regardless of the lack of genetic connection, my kids are undoubtedly a reflection of me.”
Nevertheless, she says she experienced “trepidation” about how to explain to their three kids exactly how they were created. Naturally, then, her five-year-old has to spring the question, “So, how did you get the sperm?” from the back seat of the car when her spouse isn’t present to offer support. You’ll have to visit her site for her explanation, which seems to me to be just right for the situation. She gets bonus points in my book for the Red Sox reference (although I recognize not all readers will feel the same).
Over at My Two Mums, Kirsty writes of her three-year-old’s question-asking phase (including such gems as “Why is a butternut squash called a butternut squash?”), and how they’re trying to answer in age-appropriate ways. I like her sense of balance about encouraging him to ask questions but not giving full details unless needed. He isn’t yet asking about his creation, she says—but I have no doubt she’ll give him an answer that fits him at the time.
And at The Handsome Father, David Hu asks “Do Genetics Matter?” He and his husband are an interracial couple, and set out to have biracial kids because “We thought having children with both Caucasian and Asian features meant that if ever one of us was travelling with small babies alone, strangers would be more likely to accept either of us as related to these children. A man alone with small children and no mom in sight still raises eyebrows.” I can’t argue—that’s an unfortunate piece of sexism that is still too pervasive.
Hu and his husband are not revealing who their egg donor was, though, because to do so would allow people to guess which of the two men contributed the sperm. He explains, “Our families may have thoughts, but their theories have never been confirmed, and this reasonable doubt helps for us to both be treated equally as parents. When the kids are old enough to understand where babies come from (AJ and JJ are fast approaching that day), they will be the first to know about their genetic origins.” Not all families will take that approach, for any number of reasons (my spouse and I were happy to share with relatives and close friends, for example), but it seems that for his family, it’s a respectful and thought-out decision.
We’ve always been open with our son about his origins. I don’t even remember at this point how old he was when we told him that it takes “special cells” from a woman and from a man to create a baby, and that we combined mine with a donor’s, which Momma (my spouse) then carried. (The talk about heterosexual intercourse as the usual means to achieve a baby came much later, though.)
For parents looking for a hand in discussing these matters with young children, I highly recommend What Makes a Baby?, by Corey Silverberg and Fiona Smyth. It manages to be accurate, age-appropriate, and inclusive of all gender identities.
For those of you who also used donors, how have you approached talking with your kids about them?
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