What Do We Tell the Kids??? 33rd Annual American Adoption Congress. Parents as their Child’s Advocate in Donor Conception. The contents of this presentation were created by Nightlight Inc. with help from grant #6EAAPA081009-02-00 from the U.S. Department of Health and
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Parents as their Child’s Advocate in Donor Conception
The contents of this presentation were created by Nightlight Inc. with
help from grant #6EAAPA081009-02-00 from the U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services. It may not reflect the official views of the Department.
Kris Probasco, LCSW, LSCSWAdoption & Fertility Resources
Licensed in the states of Missouri and Kansas as social worker and adoption agency.
She has practiced since 1972 in her specialty of adoption, infertility and reproduction.
Partnered with three fertility medical practices in the Kansas City area, specializing in work with families formed by a donor conception.
Kris provides placement services for domestic, international, and embryo adoptions, which include counseling for prospective birth and genetic families.
Consults with agencies interested in partnership model.
Being lied to is
Knowing you weren’t
Worth the truth
1884 – First Documented Case of Donor Sperm Insemination, R. Snowden, Artificial Reproduction, A Social Investigation, Artificial Reproduction; a Social Investigation, 1983
1983 – First Documented Case of Egg Donation – UCLA Medical Center
1988 – The Office of Technology Assessment estimates that 30,000 U.S. children were born via donor insemination during 1986-87
1997 – First Case of Embryo Placement and Adoption- Snowflakes, Nightlight Adoption, Inc.
Approximately 60,000 Children Born by Donor Conceptions each year in the United States. However, in the U.S. there is no accurate tracking or record keeping, so it is likely there are many more donor conceptions.
612,000 Frozen Embryos awaiting decisions about their outcome, 2011 California State Fulton Research
Annually there are approximately 25,000 to 30,000 traditional adoptions and 9,341 (2011) international adoptions.
Children often “sense” there is a secret; they sense there is “something wrong.”
Secrets almost never stay secret forever. It is far easier to share with a three-year old than a twenty-three year old.
Secrets in families are damaging.
When secret information finally comes out, the feeling of betrayal can be overwhelming.
Parents can demonstrate ‘honesty’ and ‘integrity by being honest with their child about their beginning story from an early age
Speaking about their beginning story casually, early and often makes it simply a part of their family. It’s their normal
Parents can begin talking to their children about their conception the minute the child enters their lives or before.Younger Years [Birth-6]
Adoption research states that who we become is approximately 50% nature and 50% nurture.
Openness in the process will provide life-long benefits for the child.
Sperm Bank of California – first sperm bank with open identified donors – offspring want adult picture, social information and how many half siblings
Begin to practice talking to your child during infancy with positive language and feelings:
“We were meant to be your parents. We are so happy that we got help. We have so much to tell you. We are excited for you to understand your story.”Younger Years [Birth-6]
Parents can use these questions as a jumping off point for explaining their child’s donor story.
All children are curious as to how they came to be.
Children start asking questions about babies and pregnancy around age 3.
Be honest without going into details that will be beyond a young child’s ability to comprehend
Let the child’s questions lead the discussion.
Answer the questions with a tone of celebration and awe at the amazing way they joined your family
Celebrate their unique arrival.
The goal is for the child to not remember being told because they always knew how they came into the family.
Foster a positive attitude about their conception, birth and family
The donor conception decision as the beginning of a positive story
The Goal: Share all that is known about the donor family and their journey
The attachment process is enhanced by honest stories
Use the words “sperm” and “ova” when describing how an embryo is formed. Babies grow in a “uterus”. Inaccurate words can confuse the child
Choose terms that are comfortable for your family to describe the genetic/donor family. Use accurate terms. Terms may evolve as your child matures
Children DO need to begin processing that there are other people in the word to whom they are connected in a significant and lasting way
Storybooks can be a useful tool to introduce the story of conception.
Todd Parr has authored many books about families and the importance of the love they share with each other.Younger Years [Birth-6]
Why am I different? their familyDo you love me as much as you would if I came rom pieces of you and Daddy? Why did our donor help to give me to you?Will you always love me?Middle Years [7-12]
Questions arise at the most unexpected moments.
Between ages 7-10 is generally when the “ah-ha” moments occur.
There will be a time of grief, sadness and disconnect for the child
The groundwork laid before will assist in the child’s acceptance
Explain that many families are not able to make a baby and needs lots of help to bring children to their home.
Particulars about the child’s story will be helpful. Their story may include sperm or egg donation or embryo placement and adoption.
If they are asking questions you do not have the answer for, it is best to have empathy for the child by saying “I would want to know, too.”
If there an open donor situation, the child can write down questions that can be asked of the donor family the next time there is communication.The Middle Years [7-12]
Who Am I? it is best to have empathy for the child by saying “I would want to know, too.”Adolescent Years [13+]
Parents being the child’s advocate presents many joys and celebrations, as well as many challenges.Embracing the Joys and Challenges