Donor-conceived child Emma: I always felt like the most wanted child on the planet
22-year-old Emma from Denmark has always known that she was donor-conceived. In this interview, Emma shares her thoughts about growing up as a donor child. She also tells us why she is happy that her donor is a Non-ID Release Sperm Donor, and shares her advice for parents of donor-conceived children.
How has it been for you to grow up being donor-conceived?
I have always known that I was donor-conceived, and it is something that we have always been very open about in my family.
When I was just a baby my parents made a children’s book with the story of “how” and “why” I was a donor child. It was a personal and educational book with drawings and pictures of friends and family. We read it as a nighttime story, which means that I understood more and more eventually, and I have no memory of the day I knew. I always felt like the most wanted child on the planet. Sure, I have had bad days where I would have preferred something else, but it has never lasted more than a day.
From time to time I get reminded of my donor. From small incidents, such as the discovery of my lactose intolerance.
Do you wish your parents would have handled it in another way?
Not at all! I have never wanted anything to be different. But I know that my parents have second-guessed many of their decisions, especially when you hear all the unhappy stories. I know they have tried their best and it turned out perfect for me.
What do you think about the fact that your donor is anonymous?
When I was conceived, anonymity (ed. Non-ID Release) was the only option and therefore it was not a difficult choice. To me and my family, anonymity has never been a problem. Much more a relief actually. It ruled out a lot of questions, wondering and choices. It simply has been easier.
I have always known that I was a donor child, but never have I wished to know my donor or potentially other children from the same donor. I’m grateful towards him and that he chose to be a donor, but I do not want him as a part of my life and I hope he feels the same way. I wish him the best in life!
Do you have any advice for parents of donor-conceived children?
I would advise parents of donor-conceived children to tell the truth as soon as possible, and in a kind and calm way. I think it is very important that it does not get associated with something bad. Children are so easily influenced by their parents’ feelings, which makes it even more important to think about what you want to tell them and how you tell them. I believe that if the parents are very nervous and insecure when they talk about it, the child picks up this vibe and it generates suspicion.
A book like the one my parents made, I think, is a great and safe option. This way the child will hear the same story many times, understand more and more, and be able to ask questions when they appear. The parents will never face the “HOW and WHEN do we tell??”-dilemma and it will not have an impact on their relationship to the child.
It has never been a big deal to me that I was donor conceived and I know in my heart who my mom and dad are.
Anything else you want to add?
I have met people who weren’t sure if it was ethical to bring a donor-conceived child into the world. What a shame! I have had a great life so far, and statistics show that donor children do just as well as other children.
One of the things that I really wish for the future of donor conception is openness. I really hope we grow more confident with the subject and that we can keep an open mind to different perspectives. My hope is that my story will lead to a more balanced debate, where not only the sad stories are told.
/Love Emma Grønbæk
If you liked the interview with Emma, you might also like the blog post, where we give you advice on how to talk to your child about being donor-conceived. You can also read more about Emma and her book about donor conception here.