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Disclosing to Family and Friends

Convincing arguments can be made for and against telling your family and friends about your donor-conceived child (donor egg, sperm or embryo). Many people fear criticism, scorn and even ostracism if they reveal this. Third-party reproduction may disturb some friends and family due to religious or cultural beliefs, or a simple lack of knowledge. However, others may delight in your decision and give you much support on your path to parenthood. Deciding whether to reveal donor conception is a very personal matter. Individuals and couples must come to this decision on their own. And both members of a couple both should be in agreement about the decision. Remember, you can decide to reveal this at any point in your journey: you don’t have to disclose this while trying to conceive or when you’re expecting.

A simple caveat for this complex question: Tell those who, you believe, will be supportive and respectful, and don’t tell others who may not be.

Pros and Cons

Advantages of telling family and friends are that you may deepen your connections with them, and you can educate them about donor-assisted conception. Also, your openness can help reduce people’s natural inclination to spread “secrets”.

Remember, once you tell friends/family, you can not control where this information spreads. The drawback to telling is that if you decide against telling your child, or have not yet decided, you open the possibility that he/she could find out accidentally, on the playground, or later in life, from a family friend or relative. Children who have found out inadvertently have reported feeling betrayed, angry, confused and devastated.

Donor-conceived-family support groups can help you explore this “to tell/not to tell” question. Talking to a therapist versed in donor conception issues can also help you sort out your thoughts about disclosure.

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