Parents of donor-conceived children are desperately looking for help when trying to tell their children how they were conceived, according to the Infertility Treatment Authority (ITA).
In the past year to July, there have been more than 71,000 hits to the ITA website, the majority from people seeking information and resources on ‘how to tell’ their children they were concieved using donated eggs or sperm. As well, the ITA counsellors are working with many parents who are struggling with the issue of ‘telling’.
This demand from Australia and around the world has prompted the ITA, a statutory authority, to develop a podcast series, which is now available online. The series of five podcasts features parents of donor-conceived children explaining how they told their children that they were conceived using donated eggs or sperm.
As well, the podcast series features a sperm donor who has told his family of the children born as a result of his donations, and a young woman who talks about the experience of being told at 15, that she was donor-conceived.
The podcast series is the first resource of this kind in the world to be developed to support parents of donor-conceived children, as well as egg and sperm donors who want to tell their families. It is believed that only between 30% and 50% of donor-conceived children know the facts surrounding their conception.
The Chief Executive Officer of the ITA, Ms Louise Johnson, said the podcast series was developed to provide personal stories about “how to tell” to complement existing ‘telling’ resources.
The podcasts were produced as part of the ITA’s Time To Tell Campaign. The campaign was prompted by the impact of legislation enacted in 1988. From July 1 2006 donor-conceived young adults have been able to apply for identifying information about their donor on turning 18. The donor can also apply for identifying information about the donor-conceived young adult.
Parents of younger children can apply for information on behalf of their children, or decide whether to provide consent if a donor applies for information. However, the exchange of identifying information can only occur if both parties agree. By the end of this year around 600 donor-conceived young adults will be affected by the legislation and can make applications.
Ms Johnson said she expects the podcasts to be as widely used as the ITA’s other resources, which have attracted massive national and international attention.
“It is so different when you hear someone talk personally about their own experience – we hope these stories give parents the confidence to give telling a go. The ITA is on the end of the phone if parents would like more support,” Ms Johnson said.
The podcasts feature the following people:
- Stewart, a 40-year-old man who has two children of his own as well as another 14 who have been born as a result of his sperm donations in the 1990s.
- Narelle, a 25-year-old woman who was 15 when her parents told her she was donor-conceived. She has not been able to locate her genetic father.
- Jacqui and Sarah are a gay couple who have three children under the age of six. The children were conceived using sperm from the same donor.
- Angie and Greg have two children conceived using donated sperm.
- Kim has twins who were conceived using donated eggs.
The podcasts range from about five to 10 minutes and can be found on the ITA website – www.ita.org.au.
Ms Johnson said the ITA plans to produce more podcasts during 2008.
“While it is easier to tell children when they are young, it is never too late. These personal stories provide great support for parents who have been thinking about how to tell their young children or adults. There is never a perfect time to tell – the right time might be now. If you want additional support, the ITA is here to help,” she said.