How do I start the conversation? What is the right age? How do I explain egg donation? Every parent of a child conceived through an egg donor will ask themselves these questions. Just like talking to any child about how they were conceived, there really isn’t a golden rule as to a right or wrong way to explain things or a perfect age to have the conversation. Every family is different and each child’s story will be unique. Here are some tips to help you find your own way to talk to your child about egg donation:
Talk to your child about how they came in to the world as young as possible (under 2 years).
– Show your child pictures of your pregnant tummy and explain how they grew inside you. You can talk about how they wriggled around and tickled you inside and how you needed to wait until they were big enough to come out and give you a cuddle.
– Drive past the hospital they were born at (if it’s in your local area) and explain how when they were ready to come out of your tummy, a special doctor helped them out. In the case of multiple births, you could draw a picture of how they were positioned in your tummy.
– Show them newborn pictures, particularly if they were photographed with a toy they still own, such as a teddy bear, so they can see how little they were.
– If you know your egg donor, try to mention them in conversation and refer to her as your “special friend” or “special helper”. You don’t need to elaborate on this at the moment, but if your child knows their face and their name for now, that is enough.
Have regular “story times” about how your child was born.
By incorporating these stories into your normal interactions with your child, you will avoid ever having to have “The Talk” and make any huge revelations to your child. Here is an example for children aged 3-4:
“Your daddy/mummy and I loved each other very much and wanted to have a little boy or girl of our own to live in our home with us. We wished and hoped for a baby for a very long time, but still no baby came and we were very sad. When you make a baby, you need a special seed from a man and a special seed from a lady that are hidden inside us like magic. We found out that mummy’s cells weren’t working very well so we went to ask a special doctor to help us. The doctor said that a very kind lady might give us one of her seeds to put inside mummy’s tummy and help us grow a baby…”
Tell your child how they grew inside your tummy and how happy you were when they were born. Most children love hearing about when they were babies and really enjoy looking at photographs while you tell them this story. If you know your donor, you can start mentioning her name when you speak about this “very kind lady”. In the case of an anonymous donor, maybe you could simply say “a very kind lady, called a donor”.
Seize opportunities to discuss your egg donor when appropriate:
If your child mentions a certain physical trait that they have that is either similar or different to you, you can use this as a way to gently mention your egg donor. Explain how your body grew them a carried them but they were actually made when the special lady helped you and gave you one of her seeds so it could join together with daddy’s seed and grow in your tummy. Explain how all the ingredients that make your child’s hair and eye colour, freckles etc were contained in that tiny seed. You could also point out the physical traits they may have inherited from their father.
Don’t make donor conception a secret:
If you tell your child it is a secret and expect them to keep it to themselves, you are implying that there is something shameful or wrong with how they were conceived. Reinforce the great lengths you went to trying to have a baby and how much they were wanted and planned for. Remind them how you wished every night for a baby and how happy you are to be their mummy. However you choose to explain egg donation to your child, please, please don’t tell them it is a secret. Explain to a close friend or relative that you have been talking to your child about their conception and encourage them to talk openly with your child if the topic comes up. Some people may feel compelled to change the subject or dismiss the conversation for fear of awkwardness, but will usually find that the more comfortable you are in being open, the more relaxed everyone will be around talking about it.