Psychologist & Professor
Montclair State University
Director of Psychological Services
Saint Barnabas Medical Center
A major consideration for people considering egg donation is whether they’ll “love the child”, view them as “their own”, as well as questions on the implication for the child and the relationship of the parents. The data thus far is limited but encouraging.
Investigators in France examined the perceptions of mothers who delivered a child within the previous three years using donor eggs. They determined the level of love and bonding was no different from what they’d witnessed between mothers who conceived using their own eggs and their children.
When we speak with parents of children born with the help of donor eggs, they corroborate this sentiment. In their minds, they view that child as entirely their own, and while vividly recalling how hard the decision was to use donor eggs, clearly credit the choice as being essential in the birth of their child.
When investigators in the U.K. followed up with donor conceived children at age 12, they noted no differences were found when it came to quality of parent-child relationships, parents’ marital and psychological state, and the child’s social emotional development.
A major factor in the child’s and parent’s well-being may be one of “disclosure”, and if and how the parents teach their child their birth story and normalize the discussion in their home.
Although many egg donations are “anonymous”, many experts believe that with the advent of services like 23andMe or Ancestry.com, it’s likely most children will one day learn of their genetic origin.
The most useful data we have on the implications for a child to learn late in life of their genetic origin comes from adoptees. As you can see, those who learned of their adopted origin earlier in life were less likely to be distressed and more likely to have higher quality of life scores. From this, many experts deduce that all-things-being-equal, it’s best to introduce (in an age appropriate way) to a child at an early age that they were conceived with help from an egg donor. If, and how, the family informs others is obviously a highly-personalized decision.
For a list of children’s books that help incorporate the concept of donor conception into your child's life, we recommend a curated list compiled by Parents Via Egg Donation, an organization with deep experience in the field.
Discussing your child’s birth story can have future health implications too. For example, the egg donor may be a carrier for, or develop, a condition of a hereditary nature. In many countries, there's infrastructure for the donor to anonymously update offspring and families on major health developments, but for obvious reasons, the offspring may be able to focus on this updated information better if they were already aware of their birth story ahead of time.