sperm fertilising eggDonor conception is a new way of conceiving a child. Parents who in the past would have had to adopt or accept not to have children, can now hope to have a baby despite their bodily limitations (age, sex, infertility due to some physical condition, etc).

Technology can alleviate the pain of remaining childless. As an analyst who works with children and adults, I know from experience that donor conception is not only a “matter of fact” activity.

Consciously or unconsciously, it will affect the parents who resort to it, and the children who have to construct their identity around it. Conscious or unconscious fantasies about their origins, unresolved questions of the parents around their motivations for resorting to donor conception or other means to have a child might complicate the children’s capacity to come to terms with their birth and affect their capacity to construct their identity. More people are now coming to seek help around these questions, children who have been conceived through donor conception, and adults who are thinking of recurring to a donor.
As analysts and psychotherapists we need to be prepared to think with our patients about these matters. It is our responsibility to be able to assist these people in their quest. This is why we are organising a day conference scheduled for 23 April 2016 at the Wellcome Collection

CavalliAlessandra Cavalli (PhD)
Child and Adult trained analyst
ACP, SAP, BPC reg.

Book symposium

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2 responses to “The impact of Donor Conception”

  1. If this was 50 years back, people would have treat us like their scapegoat and made our life miserable. But society and technology has made this job a little more easier. There is nothing greater feeling than knowing that you have help a soul. Just marked this date and will be there 🙂

  2. There is no ‘new way’ to conceive a person. Every person on earth was conceived by his or her parents – their father fertilized their mother’s egg. How their father achieved that may have involved intercourse or a laboratory it really makes no difference. It also makes no difference who carried and delivered the person – maybe his mother did or maybe some other lady did, again it really makes no difference to the fact that we are all conceived the same way by our parents. Their relatives are our maternal and paternal relatives. Our parents don’t have to raise us or love us or be interested in us to meet the definition of parent in any dictionary or medical text book.

    That bothers a lot of people who want to believe that people are donating a gamete, not a child. They want to believe that lack of interest can erase parenthood. They want to believe that effort and time and interest or labor in the case of gestation can create parenthood. But nothing anyone does can change the fact that people are the parents of their own offspring. We can say we don’t view sperm donors as parents but if we are cornered we do have to admit that donors who have offspring are technically parents according to any dictionary or medical criteria and their family is their children’s family whether we think of them that way or not.
    Identity is not something people get to craft for themselves it is a factual thing that we don’t get to control by our actions, beliefs or interpretations. We can change our names or have cosmetic surgery to alter the outward appearance of our genders but there is no escaping what gender you are or whose child you are when you get down to the scientific facts of things. We can say we don’t choose to identify as someone’s child or as a certain race or gender but in reality by making such statements we are actually proclaiming that we are the thing we say we don’t ‘identify’ with but are simply choosing to pretend otherwise and are hoping that others will follow suit and pretend along with us.
    So calling a person’s parents donors does not change who their parents are. Language has the ability to alter perception of reality but not reality itself. Tricky language can make it difficult to express ourselves. Telling someone to call their father their donor makes it hard for them to be understood as having lost something significant because people don’t have any empathy for the absence of a person’s donor in their life where they do have empathy for a person abandoned by his or her father.

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