Intra-family donation and implications counselling

Intra-family donation and implications counselling

Posted on 17.2.15

blog-author
By Tracey Sainsbury

The Mary Portas story of her brother being the known sperm donor for her child has been shared widely in the media, raising awareness of the joy that intra-family donation can bring. As a counsellor working regularly with people considering intra-family donations as part of their pathway to parenthood, I take time to explore the conscious and unconscious implications for all parties. This includes the recipient/s, donor and their partner if they have one, any children within those relationships, and their wider family. At the core of this is any child conceived with the assistance of a known donor who also happens to be a family member.

When people need the assistance of donated sperm to conceive some choose not to conceive within a licensed clinic. This often means that people trying to conceive at home can miss out on the support and information shared during implications counselling. This support service is routinely provided in clinics for both donors and recipients.  

Counselling isn’t there to change anyone’s mind ... it’s an opportunity to gain clarity around your thoughts and expectations in the present and the future

People considering donating or conceiving with donor assistance have often thought about it for a long time. Counselling isn’t there to change anyone’s mind or to provide in-depth analysis of your decision-making process - it’s an opportunity to gain clarity around your thoughts and expectations in the present and the future. It also allows you to gain awareness of how the legal framework can be beneficial for you and any child conceived.

Counselling concerning intra-family donation also provides an opportunity to understand the unconscious impact of the terminology used when sharing information. This may be when communicating with a little person at all ages and stages of development, and with ensuring all members of the family are comfortable with their decisions.

Legal guidance

Choosing a licensed clinic for donor conception will also ensure that you receive the necessary legal guidance. Known donor agreements, though not legally binding in the UK, do confirm intentions of all parties prior to conception. This legal document can often be useful for a judge in planning outcomes to cases where challenges are made, for example, regards access or financial expectations from either the parents or known donor, or where ‘Donor Grandparents’ are seeking contact. Our thoughts and feelings often change once a child is born and the many plans and fantasies created whilst planning conception suddenly become a reality.

Donor generosity

My one suggestion to Mary Portas would have been to refer to her brother as an exceptional brother rather than the father of her child. A brother who has enabled her and her wife to become parents together through the generous act of being their known sperm donor - providing clarity for all consciously and unconsciously from the beginning. 

For more information on using a known sperm donor and the implications involved, please contact us on 020 7563 4309 or email info@londonwomensclinic.com.

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