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Donor-Conceived Kids — What Really Ticks Them Off

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a blog by Marna Gatlin, Parents Via Egg Donation, August 30, 2011

To read more of Marna Gatlin's Egg Donation 101 blogs, CLICK HERE.

When my son was 9 I woke up one day anxious about his origins. For the life of me I can’t put my finger on what began those feelings. I can’t recall any specific conversation we might have had. I just chalked it up to being a chronic worrier.

I wasn’t sure how to broach this subject with him. The whole idea of just saying “Hey do you feel weird because you are conceived via egg donation?” left me with a bad taste in my mouth and that much more anxiety. So I stewed, and fretted and stewed some more.

About this time the PVED forum was bubbling with new members, returning members, and new mothers. All of which had the same kinds of questions – “Marna how do I tell my child about egg donation? How do we not make it weird? What would you do?”

Suddenly I felt like a big fat fraud. All these years I was preaching from the pulpit about how easy it was to tell your child about his or her origins, and how therapist after therapist I spoke with proclaimed that honesty was the best policy. And so here I am with my 9 year old scared to death to bring all this up again. I didn’t want to rock the boat. What if I freaked him out? What if he thought I felt weird?

The fact is my son’s origins have never ever been a secret; we’ve been talking to him about them since he was born. So why was I having a problem?

I decided to use the questions posted on our forum as a way to talk to my son about all of this and put my fears to rest. So one evening when my husband was working late I found my son in the TV room and plopped myself down next to him and said “Hey, I need to pick your brain.” There was an exchanging of silliness that transpired and we then settled down to talk.

Me being me, I just dove in head first and said “You know there are some moms on our forum that have had kids through egg donation like I had you. They are afraid of telling their kids about how they were conceived because they don’t want their kids to be angry with them or resent them. Do you have any advice for them?”

My son took a dramatic pause and a deep breath and I thought for a moment “Oh boy, here it comes.” And he simply said “Are you kidding me? They are worried about THAT? I mean come on Mom I have so much more to be pissed at you about that has nothing to do with egg donation! I mean really?”

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. I was so relieved, and then I sat up and took notice. He was only 9 and pissed at me for regular things! So as we sat together I said, “Lay it on me, and give me your laundry list. I am all ears!” And boy did he ever.

His list of grievances to me:

  • “My friends stay up until 10 p.m. Me? I have to be in bed by 8 p.m. and, hello, I am NINE YEARS OLD!”
  • “There are no electronics during the week? How lame is that?”
  • “I can’t drink any pop because it has high fructose corn syrup, and you always make me wear a helmet, and while we are at it, I hate the fact I can’t watch a PG movie all by myself, you always have to watch it with me!”

And then the conversation was over. I listened to what he had to say, we talked about why we have rules, he gave me a kiss and then went off to play all the while me sweating bullets and worrying for nothing. My son was irritated and worried about regular 9-year-old issues that had zero to do with egg donation, third party reproduction or his origins.

More of late when we talk about egg donation he’s very up front about all of this and has been known to tell me that I worry about it more than he does. Furthermore, he’s had it up to here with “egg talk.” He’s more focused on the next level of Super Mario or getting together with his cousins to play.

The peace in our house surrounding egg donation is simple, almost Zen like. There are no issues because we don’t make any issues out of it. It is what it is. It’s a fact of life. It’s something we respect and treat with great reverence.

I firmly feel because we didn’t make a big deal out of it, he didn’t make a big deal out of it.

And so, in closing, the message my son imparts upon all of you parents with donor conceived children:

“Just tell them early, and be natural about it. If you are afraid, your kid is going to be afraid, and having a baby via egg donation is nothing to be afraid about.”

Comments (11)

I disagree strongly with your final note. There is a lot to be worried about once we are of an age where we can grasp the consequence of anonymity. Some of us have serious genetic health issues that could have been prevented or treated earlier had we access to our medical histories. Others, such as I, feel a desperate loss at not knowing "who we look like." Being a woman, I worry for my children, and my children's children, as half my family tree is missing. I cannot tell my own unborn children about their heritage. I could go on and on. A 9 year old does not have the mental capacity to comprehend the vast array of emotions involved. The majority of donor conceived adults take serious issue with their origins. More research is needed here. I say these things not to offend, but to give a round perspective of this topic from the view of a donor conceived adult.

Excellent post. You will inspire others to tackle this issue with a touch more confidence than they had before.

I also suspect your son will get his own blog going soon to rally children born via egg donation to demand a later bedtime, electronics after homework during the week as well as a list of other grievances. Oh...uh, and to also tell the children and their parents to not sweat the egg donation stuff.

As usual, great job!

Our 7th grade twins are about to studying genetics in science and I had a "freak" out moment! One kid saw me studying the 7th grade text book and said to me, "Mom, I already read ahead, it's not a big deal. I know more than the textbook!". Just when I was about to panic they bring me down to earth and I realize that telling them about egg donation early on has reaped benefits for all of us.
Thanks for a great post Marna!

Great post Marna! Our kids teach us so much don't they?! I'm wondering what you were worried about? I know that at each age and milestone there are new things. We haven't had the genetics talk with our girls yet. They are 6 going on 7. Has this discussion come up with your son? When did you have it? We are thinking it will come up naturally. I fear the day the girls realize they don't have my genes but maybe it's nothing to worry about. Thank you for a great post. I'll be sure to repost on Heartfelt Egg Donation's blog. Cheers!

Hey thanks for writing:) I think I worried about what most mothers worry about -- fear of rejection, worried that my son would feel out of place, disconnected, different. Fear of the unknown. All of those things rolled into one.

We have talked with our son and shared with him his story about his origins from the time he was born. This is something we always want him to know, not something we want him to look back and say "Oh when I was 8 my mom told me I was from an egg donor" So our mantra at our house is "Tell early, and often." Does that make sense?

If you don't make it weird, they won't feel weird. That's pretty much how it goes:)

You hit a homerun w/this blog, Marna. You speak authoritatively, with compassion and also with a sense of vulnerability...what parent would not find your voice compelling? Such great advice, the best of which came from your son, a child who clearly reflects the love and wisdom of his terrific mom!! Bravo!

Thanks for the feedback. You know it's really easy to parent my child, not only is he a great kid, but he gets all this on so many levels. We can't help but think that because his father and I are so laid back about all of this (as in don't make a big deal about conception, but celebrate the day we was born) -- but we also temper his conception with great respect to his origins.

The day we had the conversation about what ticks him off was very enlightening and funny. I look forward to more conversations with him son as he gets older:)

Thanks for writing.

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