For many gay, lesbian, choice single parents and infertile couples, donor sperm is a God send. Artificial insemination is often far less expensive than adopting a child. Many couples place a high value on the biological bonds between parents and naturally conceived children; artificial insemination may be an excellent choice in such situations because the resulting child is genetically related to his or her mother. The parents of adopted children often express fear and frustration with regard to telling their child about the adoption; this is also a very important issue for parents who used donated sperm.
Dealing with Questions
Obviously there are no hard and fast rules surrounding how to discuss artificial insemination with children. Some will start to ask questions long before they even go to school whilst others may not broach the subject until they are much older.
Parents need to ensure that all the child’s questions are answered in an honest, open and positive way whilst being careful only to use language and information that can be understood. The most crucial message to be given to the child is that their parents love them without condition. The child needs to know that are valued as a person, and are full family members who deserve just as much love and respect as others with a different DNA.
Positivity is vital and parents may need to stress repeatedly that the sperm donor is a good person and that the child is a good person.
Explanations for Very Young Children
Particularly young children will probably be confused about sperm; what it is and its role in reproduction. If parents don’t want or are uncomfortable with engaging in a discussion of sex, it may be enough to tell the child that sperm donors are kind and generous men who want to help families to have children. As each child develops and matures, further discussions on the subject of artificial insemination will provide opportunities for candid conversations about reproduction and sexuality.
Conflicting Religious Views
Some religions expect their followers to comply with strict behavioural guidelines in some areas of their life including reproduction and sexuality which are stringently controlled. Some faiths reject all types of birth control and instruct that sexual relationships must only occur between married couples. Other religions take a more liberal stance on the issue and others completely ignore it altogether.
Several of the world’s major religions completely condemn all forms of artificial conception, including the use of donor eggs and donor sperm. Parents who decide to take the artificial insemination route must be prepared to discuss the matter with the child, at an appropriate time in the future.
Obviously it is an emotional and highly sensitive issue and needs to be approached with love and great care. Parents will need to have a full understanding of their own faith and the stance it takes in terms of artificial insemination in order that they may instruct the child on the matter.
However, parents will also need to be informed about faiths which have different positions so that they are able to reassure a troubled child that he or she is not ‘normal’ or ‘grown in a test tube from cells.’ These conversations can also provide an opportunity to initiate respect for other people with different beliefs.
Love Above All Else
Couples who choose artificial insemination are loving and courageous people, determined to fight for a chance to raise children and one element of their determination must be a commitment to be open and honest with the child in regard to their origins. The child will therefore understand that they are the result of the compassion of not only their legal parents but also the sperm donor. It is an extremely good way to explain and illustrate to the child that they are unique, cherished and even more importantly deeply loved.