Ideas For Age Appropriate Ways To Tell Your Child From Birth To Teens
Research shows the earlier a child is told the story of how they were conceived, the more straightforward and stress-free this is for both the parents and the child.
Telling a child early allows them to incorporate their embryo donation story as they develop their identity. It also allows recipient parents to gain confidence in explaining to their child as they can tell the child their story gradually, in an age appropriate way. In this way, being embryo donor conceived can be normal for the child as they grow, rather than a sudden revelation.
Below you'll find some language and concepts that you could use as you talk to your child to develop the idea at different ages
- “We’ve waited a long time to have you”
- “Sometimes people need help to create a baby”
- “Donors help create families”
Focus on the different kinds of families, the importance of love making a family and just as they learn about different body parts, teach them about their different “make up”
- Start to use children’s books or create your own unique family book
- Use simple language and repeat many times
This is the age the questions will come.
- Be confident in your response.
- Use every opportunity to “replant the seed”
- Encourage questions and follow up with how they are feeling in the days following these conversations
- Children of this age really start to understand the implications and what it means to be donor conceived.
- It is a great age to explore “Nature vs Nurture” and give them ownership and a sense of pride about their identity and story
10-11 Years & beyond
- A good age to start using statistics – 3% of kids are conceived by A.R.T
- Find a community or group where other donor conceived children can share their experiences.
- Be open to sharing more about the donor person / family if that is what the child shows an interest in. Continue to be open and approachable.
- Children of this age can start to be sensitive to feeling different.
This information was modified utilising content from the VARTA website www.varta.org.au
We have reviewed some books that might be helpful to you in talking with your child about embryo donation:
'The Pea that was me: An embryo donation story' by Kimberly Kluger-Bell
Written from the child’s perspective, this book answers ‘where did the pea that was me come from?’. It starts by explaining how normal conception works (the egg from the lady with the sperm of the man). It then states the problem that the egg and sperm don’t always work to make tiny peas. The solution is going to the doctor who has an idea - using extra peas.
This book is clear and factual, written in child appropriate language with lovely pea-themed illustrations. The pea analogy helps to keep big concepts simple and a just a little bit fun, though some parents may find this distracting. ‘The Pea that was me’ is written for children conceived through embryo donation aged 3 and up. It’s a helpful way to begin explaining embryo donation for parents who feel comfortable using the language of egg and sperm with young children.
I became your Mama' by Molly Huyck
This book is written from a mother to her young child. In tender tones it speaks of a special journey to motherhood that needed a little help, and tells the child how loved, wanted and treasured they are. ‘From a snowflake to our baby we watched you grow each day’. There’s just a few mostly-rhyming lines on each page with beautiful double page spread illustrations in pastel tones that tell the story just as much as the words. ‘I became your Mama’ is suitable to be read to any child born with the help of fertility treatment, and applies very well to the embryo donation conceived child. We’d recommend this book for the pre-school aged child, but for older children it can be used as a conversation starter to explore concepts such as what a ‘snowflake’ means and how it came to be
'Ready Made Cupcake: All mixed up' by Whitney Williams
This short and sweet book is a simple story of what happens when two cupcakes -'Mr and Mrs Cupcake'- can't make baby cupcakes, and need people to donate cupcake mix to them. This book might be a helpful way to start or continue discussions around donation of embryos with pre-school and early-primary aged chidren. Incuded in the story is the process of seeking a donation, and about how donations are generous gifts. There is humour and love within the illustrations, and it is a very non threatening way to raise these issues with children. While this is written for donor conceived children and their families, it could equally be used by donor families to introduce concepts to their children.
'You were made for me' by Sheri Sturniolo
Written with a beautiful rhythm, You were made for me is told from the parents perspective.
A story that can be read from early on, the book uses language such as “puzzle pieces” people willing to share and putting pieces together.
The story is of a family of two mums and donor sperm, though this only shown through its illustrations.
This is a beautiful and fun way to start the conversation at a very early age.