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Parent psychological adjustment, donor conception and disclosure: a follow-up over 10 years.

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Peer-reviewed

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Article

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Authors

Blake, L 

Abstract

STUDY QUESTION: What is the relationship between parent psychological adjustment, type of gamete donation (donor insemination, egg donation) and parents' disclosure of their use of donated gametes to their children. SUMMARY ANSWER: Disclosure of donor origins to the child was not always associated with optimal levels of psychological adjustment, especially for fathers in donor insemination families. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: Cross-sectional analyses have found mothers and fathers who conceived a child using donated sperm or eggs to be psychologically well-adjusted, with few differences emerging between parents in gamete donation families and parents in families in which parents conceived naturally. The relationship between mothers' and fathers' psychological well-being, type of gamete donation (donor insemination, egg donation) and parents' disclosure decisions has not yet been examined. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION: In this follow-up study, data were obtained from mothers and fathers in donor insemination and egg donation families at 5 time points; when the children in the families were aged 1, 2, 3, 7 and 10. In the first phase of the study, 50 donor insemination families and 51 egg donation families with a 1-year-old child participated. By age 10, the study included 34 families with a child conceived by donor insemination and 30 families with a child conceived by egg donation, representing 68 and 58% of the original sample, respectively. PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS: Families were recruited through nine fertility clinics in the UK. Standardized questionnaires assessing depression, stress and anxiety were administered to mothers and fathers in donor insemination and egg donation families. MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: Mothers and fathers in both donor insemination and egg donation families were found to be psychologically well-adjusted; for the vast majority of parents' levels of depression, anxiety and parenting stress were found to be within the normal range at all 5 time points. Disclosure of the child's donor origins to the child was not always associated with optimal levels of parental psychological adjustment. For example, disclosure was associated with lower levels of psychological well-being for certain groups in particular (such as fathers in donor insemination families), at certain times (when children are in middle childhood and have a more sophisticated understanding of their donor origins). LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: Owing to small sample sizes, the value of this study lies not in its generalizability, but in its potential to point future research in new directions. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: Donor insemination and egg donation families are a heterogeneous group, and future research should endeavour to obtain data from fathers as well as mothers. Support and guidance in terms of disclosure and family functioning might be most beneficial for parents (and especially fathers) in donor insemination families, particularly as the child grows older. The more that is known about the process of disclosure over time, from the perspective of the different members of the family, the better supported parents and their children can be.

Description

Keywords

disclosure, donor insemination, egg donation, gamete donation, psychological well-being, Adaptation, Psychological, Child, Child, Preschool, Cross-Sectional Studies, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Infant, Insemination, Artificial, Heterologous, Male, Oocyte Donation, Parenting, Parents, Truth Disclosure

Journal Title

Human Reproduction

Conference Name

Journal ISSN

0268-1161
1460-2350

Volume Title

29

Publisher

Oxford University Press
Sponsorship
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (R01HD051621)
The first three phases of this study were supported by funding from the Wellcome Trust. The final two phases of this study were supported by grant number RO1HD051621 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development