Who are Ireland’s donor children?
Sir, – In Weekend Review (Paul Cullen, July 22nd), the question is posed, “Who are Ireland’s donor children?” As the first person to bring a bank with frozen donor sperm into the country in 1979, I would say that there are children and indeed adults, who have been conceived by donor sperm in most cities and towns in Ireland. Some will know of their genetic origins, others will not.
Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Ireland and indeed the world was a very different place. Our then educators placed huge importance on the benefits of the entire process occurring in secrecy and that this secret should prevail always. Easily said, not easily done. We now know as a result of experience and empirical studies that secrets are hard to keep and that the rights of children are paramount. This does not mean that having children using donor gametes (sperm and eggs) infringes the rights of the child, however, the withholding of information concerning their genetics may well do.
The practice nowadays is to educate, encourage and support parents in telling their children about their use of donor.
Specialist fertility counselling is considered to be best practice for all using donor gametes to achieve pregnancy, and all implications including optimum welfare of the child is discussed. In Paul Cullen’s article we hear only from those donor-conceived people who are dissatisfied with the method of their conception.
A balanced view would show, in my experience, that there are many donor-conceived adults who are positive about their origins. Studies done by Prof Ken Daniels (University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand) and testimonials on the Donor Conception Network website (www.dcnetwork.org) are just two examples that support this view.
Specialist fertility counselling, together with openness, honesty and appropriate legislation will contribute considerably to a greater acceptance of the process by all. – Yours, etc,
BSc (Hons) Psychology, Dip.
Couns., Cert. Fertility Couns.