PrivateBlogWhat makes a family? Donor-conceived children and parenthood
Donor-conceived children

What makes a family? Donor-conceived children and parenthood

By Cryos | 2/20/2018
What makes a family - Family with donor-conceived children

What is a family and what characterizes a parent? Veerle Provoost is a professor of empirical research in moral science and ethics and she has studied alternative families to answer questions such as what makes a parent and how do donor-conceived children perceive their family?

Veerle Provoost is especially interested in social parenthood and donor conception. In this interview, she answers interesting questions about parenthood and sperm donation, and shares the most surprising findings from her studies of alternative families:

“What we can learn from studying alternative families, and especially also donor-conceived children, is the way they relate to their views of family and what views they have about their family. But also what needs and questions they have, and how do they deal, for instance, with the information they receive about being donor-conceived."

There are many reasons why somebody can be a parent

"What makes a family is a very interesting question and a very difficult one to answer. We also have to think about what makes, for instance, a parent, and there are many many reasons why somebody can be a parent; genetic link; you can be a parent by intention and not share a genetic link; you can have a social link with your child." 

The genetic link is not important but…

"The most surprising finding I have come across while studying these families were actually two things. First, the parents, when they talk about their link with the child, would say that a genetic link is not important, that the parent who has a genetic link and the parent who does not have this link, that they are equally as much a parent.
But when you talk about the children, then, in these interviews, something funny happens, because all of a sudden, they find it very important that the children would have full genetic links. So, I think they have a different way of looking at families, but they are still very much related to the views within society, they cannot take themselves away from that view."

Do donor-conceived children think about sperm donors as family?

If you want to learn more about Veerle Provoost’s studies, you can watch her interesting TED-talk: Do kids think of sperm donors as family? In this talk, she shares stories of how parents and donor-conceived children together create their own family narratives.

You can also watch a video interview with Professor Susan Golombok who shares findings from her extensive research on the psychological wellbeing of donor children. Or you can also read this blog post where Fredrik talks about being donor-conceived.