Jana Rupnow has, yet again, sparked realisation in me! This relates to Jana’s post on ‘Conception Gratitude’. It’s something I want to share and bring to life from the viewpoint of the parent. Jana explains that this is:

“1. Forced feelings on a child for a choice they had nothing to do with that assuage a parents negative or unexplored feelings

2. A natural feeling that arises from a child trying to reconcile their complex conception story”

Conception gratitude is the assumption that a child will be grateful for their conception (however it may have happened) because, without the decisions that were made at that very moment, in theory they wouldn’t be alive today. I suppose the same can be said for anyone’s conception – we’re all here because the stars, planets and any other ‘mystical elements’ aligned in a way to create that magical moment of conception (however scientific, spontaneous, planned, unplanned it may have been); what it doesn’t mean however is that we should all be grateful for how it happened.

Confession time! When we first made the decision to use a donor I unknowingly fell into Jana’s category 1, as a result of my unexplored feelings. We talked about what our future child might think and I even justified our decision with our family by saying “surely they will be happy we’re doing this, otherwise they wouldn’t exist”. Based on little information (as many of the resources here today didn’t exist) the thought made me feel better, it masked any fears I had deep down that there might be some negative feelings or questions at some point in the future. Even throughout my pregnancy I told myself this – we were bringing a desperately wanted child into the world with so much love and a fantastic childhood ahead of them, giving them everything they’d ever need – how could they not feel anything but gratitude? After all of the pain and grief I had been suffering, this was finally our happy ending and I didn’t want to let any negative thoughts taint this.

I can now say that my thoughts have well and truly shifted on this concept, now that I have the girls and have opened myself up to hearing different perspectives. Although I desperately hope they will feel positive, I can’t assume they will automatically feel grateful for the decisions we made.

WE can feel grateful, for the opportunity we had to bring them into the world but ultimately, they didn’t have a say in any of this. By saying the words “you wouldn’t be here without the decisions we made” we’re almost shutting down any questions / negative feelings they might have at some point with the implied expectation that they should be thankful. I still hope that in the future they are thankful and happy with their existence but I now understand it can’t be assumed. We’ll be open with them and answer any questions but never put on them the expectation that we should be thanked for the choices we made.

My biggest hope is that as adults they will feel comfortable and happy with their existence. How amazing would it be to have a genuinely reciprocated feeling of gratitude, without me forcing the idea into their heads?!

Love, Becky x