Third-Party Family Building and Donor Conception

How We Came to Be a Family

All families are built on love, trust, openness and connection regardless of genetic link. Parents may want to talk openly with their children about their donor origins but don’t know what to say or when to best share this information. The lack of true donor anonymity in the modern age due to direct to consumer DNA testing, and subsequent information linking to possible genetic siblings, may also cause confusion.

Feelings around sharing this information evolve as you move from donor selection and embryo transfer through pregnancy, and moreso when your child is here and has become an essential part of your life. Single mothers and same-sex parents report more confidence around disclosure, however heterosexual couples may find this meaningful interaction to be anxiety provoking. It is not just a one time conversation, but a lifetime of being open, curious and connected with your child.

Donor conceived offspring have been around for 30+ years. Through current research, we know that many parents have a strong desire for their child to have positive feelings around donor origins. We also know that children who have integrated the story of how their family came to be into their identity at a young age have a secure sense of self and positive relationships with parents.

It may be helpful to consult with a therapist to process complex feelings around parenting donor conceived children, and to increase confidence in talking with your child about your family story and possible genetic siblings. I work with both individuals and couples who are building their family through third-party reproduction.


Donor Conception Network:

The Donor Sibling Registry:

Books for Parents:

  • Mommies, Daddies, Donors, Surrogates: Answering Questions & Building Strong Families, Diane Ehrensaft

  • Finding Our Families, Wendy Kramer and Naomi Cahn

  • Modern Families: Parents and Children in New Family Forms, Susan Golombok

  • Three Makes Baby: How to Parent Your Donor-Conceived Child, Jana Rupnow

  • Building a Family with the Assistance of Donor Insemination, Ken Daniels

  • Mixed Blessings: Building a Family With and Without Donor Help, Olivia Montuschi

  • Telling and Talking Booklets from Donor Conception Network

Books for Children:

  • Mommy, Did I Grow in Your Tummy?, Elaine Gordon

  • One More Giraffe, Kim Noble

  • Birds of a Different Feather, Kelly Wendel

  • Happy Together: An Egg Donation Story, Julie Marie

  • Training Wheels: How Did I Get Here?, Chris Barrett and Sally Hunter (embryo donation)

  • Hope and Will Have a Baby, Irene Celcer (egg, sperm, embryo donation and surrogacy versions)

  • You Were Made for Me, Sheri Sturniolo (embryo donation)

  • What Makes a Baby, Cory Silverberg

  • The Family Book, Todd Parr