Anna - my life as a donor-conceived child
My name is Anna, and I am a donor-conceived child. This expression is probably a bit outdated since my twin brother and I turned 26 a while ago. Nevertheless, it indicates how we came to be - namely with the help of donor sperm.
Creating a family with LGBT parents
My parents, Inge and Mette, met each other when they both were young and studying in Aarhus. They fell in love and after a few years as partners, they decided, that it was time to get married and start a family. Back then, however, it was not legal for same-sex couples to get married in the traditional way in Denmark, so instead of marriage they entered a so-called registered partnership.
My parents were lucky, since they got inseminated just before insemination for same-sex couples became illegal. I am extremely proud to know that my parents, despite the challenges LGBT+ parents faced in our society at the time, listened to their hearts and followed their dream of a family through fertility treatment with donor sperm. However, some attempts had to be done before the dream could come true. The fertility treatment was performed with a Cryos donor and at the first insemination Inge became pregnant but had a miscarriage in the 3rd week. The second time, the egg was not fertilized at all, but the third time they hit the jackpot, and my parents were expecting not one, but two donor-conceived children – me and my twin brother, Daniel.
After two years as a family, it unfortunately did not work out between my parents, and they went their separate ways. Even though, on paper, Inge was our only legal parent, they managed to maintain a good relationship and cooperation in parenthood.
Co-mother, stepmother and all the other terms
Today when two homosexual women start a family in Denmark, the non-biological mother will automatically be registered as a 'co-mother', but this title did not exist when Daniel and I were born. Unfortunately, this is not something you can register for today. Instead, we recently decided for Mette to adopt my brother and I as stepchildren, which means that, on paper, we will be considered joint children by both our parents. However, the decision was not made with the wish that Mette should have the title "stepmother", on the contrary, I see it as a downgrade, as we call both our parents for "mother".
Rather, it was a decision we made to be able to call ourselves a family on paper, too. Legally, this means that it is finally given that we are the sole heirs of our mother Mette, and, in addition, that the side of our family that previously said "unknown father" has now been replaced by the family of my mother Mette. I am extremely happy about this decision! I have always felt equally related to both of my mothers’ families, even considering that I am only biologically related to one of them.
Growing up in a "unusual" family
I am often asked questions such as "Has it been different growing up in a family like yours?". I always smile at questions like these, as I have not experienced anything else. But I do understand the thinking behind the question, and I certainly see it as something very positive when other people are open, accepting, and curious about me and my family. To answer the question once and for all: I do not feel very different from any other family, but I do feel very special and unique to have grown up in a same sex family like mine, in a time where it was not well accepted. I did not know of other families like mine when I was a child, but I would like to emphasize that I also never felt a need to do so. I have always felt comfortable and proud of my family - even though I did not know other children my age who had lesbian parents or donor-conceived children.
I am sure that one of the reasons why I have been at peace with my family is because my parents, throughout childhood, have told us that we were donor-conceived and have explained how we became a family. They told us of how a kind man had helped them get pregnant and that we, instead of having a father, had been lucky enough to have two mothers - and that's exactly how I feel.
I feel extremely lucky with the family I have - because when you are donor-conceived you are truly a very wanted child, and I have always felt both wanted and loved by my parents. For that reason, I also find it difficult to understand that some parents choose not to tell their children that they are donor-conceived. I think it's such a shame to make something beautiful into a subject of taboo. In my opinion, a family is built on love and the relationship to one another, which is why I also consider both my mothers as equal parents.
Still a little bit different
Even though I just stated that I have not felt odd or different in a bad sense, I have at times felt a bit different. This has been due to the fact that I grew up in a heteronormative society, which at the time I was born, was not at all designed for families with LGBT parents, like mine. I remember how it became clear to me when new children joined my class, after which some of my classmates would ask me if they could tell the person about my family, or if I wanted to do so myself. In that sense, I have also experienced my family structure as a benefit, because I stood out from the rest of the class. Whereas not many of my classmates showed much interest in the other children’s families, most knew a lot about mine.
However, I have also been met by stereotypical prejudices, which have resulted in questions such as "Which of your parents do you think of as you father?" - because surely one of them must be the father? I am aware that these questions most often arise from ignorance or curiosity, and they are usually not based on vicious intentions.
My overall interpretation is that most people are in fact very accepting of the many different family structures that exist today.
What about potential siblings out there?
I have never searched for my donor or half-siblings myself, but I am a member of various Facebook pages, where I keep an eye out for anyone searching for me and my brother.
Even though I do not have a need to seek out my donor or half-siblings, I respect that there may be someone out there with exactly that need - In that case, they are more than welcome to contact me!
Do I want to have (donor) children myself?
I have been with my boyfriend for a little more than three years now and we definitely would like to have children someday. But for now, we are not planning on kids anytime soon. If it turns out that one of us experience infertility, using either donor eggs or donor sperm would certainly be an opportunity. I would very much like to be able to carry our future children – donor-conceived or not. But if it turns out that I am not able to do so, there are fortunately other options. I am sure that I will become a mother someday.
If you want to learn more about Anna and her family, we recommend you to follow the link to our webinar with Anna and 3 other donor-conceived people.