Talking to Children About Sperm Donation
Fact sheet from the American Fertility Association, January 2011
Starting a family the "old-fashioned way" is becoming less common. Only 25% of American households are made up of a husband, wife, and a child. The fertility field is continually growing with advances in scientific technology, and infertile patients have more options for conceiving -- including the use of donor sperm. Along with the medical advances comes the continual need for emotional support for both the parent and children. The American Fertility Association, a 501(c)3 national non-profit organization, is excited to announce the release of its second fact sheet in a series of articles designed to help parents who are wondering about whether or how to share their children's donor origins with them. The first article in this series, Talking with Children about Ovum Donation, addressed the long-term implications of disclosure and non-disclosure, parents' concerns about disclosure, current research about parents who disclose, guidelines for sharing information with children, and some suggested words and expressions for doing so.
Jean Benward, LCSW, and Patricia Mendell, LCSW, both mental health professionals specializing in infertility issues, recently completed the second fact sheet, Talking with Children about Sperm Donation. This latest comprehensive article acknowledges that couples deciding to use sperm donation face decisions and experiences that are both similar and different from those using ovum donation. These differences include the greater history of secrecy and stigma associated with sperm donation, the relative "silence" about male infertility and cultural myths about male parenting. This resource is a lifetime tool for families created through sperm donation who would like to talk to their children and others about their donor origins.
This fact sheet is the second in a series of five articles and is designed primarily for heterosexual couples considering sperm donation. The next two articles will focus on the unique experiences and issues faced by lesbian couples and single women who use sperm donation. "While donor insemination (DI) has been available for heterosexual couples for nearly a century, this was not true for single women and lesbians," explains Jean Benward. "Even now, single women and lesbians face prejudice in the larger culture where many people deny the legitimacy of families formed without fathers."
The AFA is committed to supporting people in creating their families by providing updated educational material on infertility prevention, reproductive health and family-building. The AFA's website features an online library, weekly newsletter, webinars and a toll-free help line to consumers free of charge.
The AFA is fortunate to have contributors like Jean and Patricia. With health care professionals of this exceptional caliber, we are able to deliver first-rate information to our readers, serving them fresh ways to deal with complex topics such as sperm donation.
Director of Communications
The American Fertility Association