March 3, 2024

Most embryo donation parents don’t tell their child

Only a third of parents whose child began life as a donated embryo tell them about their origins, compared with 100% of parents of adopted children and 90% of parents who used their own eggs and sperm. Fiona MacCallum, a psychologist at City University in London, told the ESHRE conference that parents believed that knowledge of their origins would upset the child and that since the mother bore the child, she was in fact the real mother.

Embryo donation parents also have a different parenting style. They tend to score higher on emotional over-involvement. Mothers tend to put the needs of the child over other family members and are reluctant to use babysitters or other care-givers. “This trait could produce children who are very dependent on their parents and who do not develop autonomy appropriate to their age,” speculated Ms MacCallum. However, the mothers’ focus on the child is not extreme and children do not suffer as a result.