Parents of Donor-Conceived Children Face New Calls for Candor

Not directly related to writing, but an issue that earlier generations didn’t have to face.

From The Wall Street Journal:

Parents of children conceived from donated sperm, eggs or embryos can be reluctant to tell their kids about their genetic origins out of concern that doing so would compromise the parents’ privacy or upend family harmony.

These mothers and fathers are facing pressure to change. Research now shows that donor-conceived people fare better emotionally when they learn about their origins early on. And states are starting to enact laws that require people intending to make use of donor gametes or embryos be informed about the importance of telling donor-conceived children about their origins.

Colorado enacted a law in June that requires people planning donor-assisted conception to receive information about how to discuss it with their children. State legislators in California passed a bill in August that, if signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, will require sperm and egg banks to provide information to customers that disclosure is associated with “improved family functioning and well-being” of donor-conceived children.

“We don’t want to encroach on parental rights. But many parents don’t know the research, and we want to make sure they are making an informed decision,” said Jillian Phillips, vice president of government affairs for the U.S. Donor Conceived Council, which supports the rights of donor-conceived individuals to learn about their origins.

Ms. Phillips, whose single mother told her before she entered preschool that she had been conceived from donor sperm, said information about genetic origins can also help donor-conceived people understand their risk for hereditary diseases. She began seeing a cardiologist after a DNA test helped her track down her biological father, who told her heart trouble ran in the family.

In previous decades, fertility doctors often discouraged parents from telling their children about how they were conceived, according to histories of the field. Secrecy was seen as a way to promote bonding between parents and their children and to protect couples’ privacy about infertility.

Research surrounding parental disclosure is still sparse but indicates that children benefit from learning the truth early on, said Susan Golombok, a professor at the Centre for Family Research at the University of Cambridge. Dr. Golombok is the lead investigator on a United Kingdom-based study following children who were age one in 2000 through the age of 20 and were born through egg donation, sperm donation, surrogacy or unassisted conception. “They were all generally well-functioning families,” Dr. Golombok said, but children who knew by age 4 that they were donor-conceived felt better about their identity and were more accepting than those who found out later.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal