When we were in the early stages of considering donor conception I heard someone talking about how every year they’d informed their child’s school teacher that their child was conceived using donor sperm. I was taken aback and immediately thought – why make such a big deal out of it? Why do they have to know something that is so private, surely all that matters is that I’d be the mum and Matt would be the dad?
It was difficult back then to consider these types of conversations, I found it hard to allow myself to even imagine having a school-age child and I feared what people might think, that I may feel like or be seen as ‘less-than’ other mums.
Mila starting school last year was a huge trigger point for me, without realising it, I struggled with ‘letting go’, knowing that it was time to start letting her fly into the big wide world. I think most parents can struggle with this, but when you’re so consciously grateful for your child and sensitive to how topics such as donor conception can still be a taboo in society, it’s natural to go into full-on protective mode. My grief definitely resurfaced as I realised that, although I wasn’t always going to be able to control what she’s exposed to, what I could do was prepare her and ensure that those who are caring for her are aware too.
Although we always knew we’d be open with our children, what I hadn’t thought about was how they themselves might openly talk about how they came to be and that in doing so they would be exposed to reactions, rather than myself. We share our story with such pride and are so open about how special they are, that it’s quite conceivable to think that Mila might start talking about Mummy’s broken eggs or that her curls were from the donor’s egg. Thinking of that scenario is exactly why I spoke to her teacher privately, so that she can encourage Mila if she talks about it and so that she is met with understanding, not blank faces. I still get nervous preparing to bring up this topic to someone I hardly know, it feels like a huge over-share to jump straight in with something so personal, but within seconds Mila’s teacher was grateful to know, amazed at everything we’d been through and simply said “I knew Mila was a special girl, now I know she’s an extra special girl”.
So, even though it’s really not a big deal and there’s so much more to our girls than how they were conceived, it’s a big enough deal for me to want comfort in knowing that those who are caring for our girls are comfortable to match our own pride and openness in talking about how they came into this world. It may not even come up, but if it does, I know that they will be empowered and encouraged to be proud of who they are…and that is what any parent would want.
I think this is a really important topic to think about as parents and so I’m hosting a Paths to Parenthub live chat later this year with a Primary School Teacher and PSHE lead to talk about how we can have these conversations and become more aware of different topics taught in schools that may spark conversations around family and genetics, to best prepare us to best prepare them. I’d love to connect with someone involved in the Secondary School curriculum on this topic too, particularly as I believe that donor conception may be more overlooked and less known about than other paths to parenthood, such as adoption. How can we make sure that the school experience is inclusive for all children, recognising all different family make-ups and paths to parenthood that are so much more common in today’s world? If this is something you’d be able to help with, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you’d like to join Paths to Parenthub to access all of our other webinar & live chat recordings, as well as our private community app & support groups to allow you to connect with others who understand this path to parenthood, you can do so by clicking here – I would love to welcome you there!
Love, Becky x
Wonderful image from @sketchymuma.