Sperm donation: May be second choice but it's not second best
For couples who have a donor-conceived child, one of the issues they face is telling the youngster the facts surrounding their entry into the world. Montuschi stresses that even parents who are absolutely convinced of the importance of openness have difficulty with finding the words to talk to their young ones about their conception.
“It is hard. I can remember having conversations with the kids when they were in the bath. Kneeling beside the bath and playing with the ducks and talking about the nice man who gave some sperm to help me. Telling early is the easiest way to go. It is the clearest message we can give.”
Merricks emphasises that you can successfully tell donor-conceived children about their origins at any age. However, once children are past six or seven, it becomes an increasingly complicated affair.
“You have to sit children down and say there is something we need to tell you. That is a whole different ballgame from this gradual information . If you asked our children when were they first told, they say ‘we really can’t remember.’ If you tell kids at six or seven, they will remember. It will be a moment in their lives that they remember.”
Merricks adds that it has been hugely rewarding to help people who start out feeling isolated by their infertility. “The meetings we have held . . . seeing some of the people who come to those meetings feeling nervous and wondering what they were going to find. And finding us all normal.
“Seeing people coming back to another meeting a year later just looking so proud and coming back the following year with a baby. The same people who felt they couldn’t possibly do it.”
Meanwhile, Susan Waterstone, of the Cork Fertility Centre, says attitudes to egg or sperm donation have moved on in recent years in Ireland with staff noticing that prospective parents are more confident having read up on the internet about the process. “People are more open minded about egg donation and sperm donation and are more knowledgeable. It has been a very rewarding 10 years since we first opened seeing people coming in to visit us with babies who they never thought they would end up having.”