Mum to three donor children
Choosing an anonymous or open donor
My name is Liza and I am 42 years old. I am married to Lise and together we have three donor children. We have both had children using the same donor.
Having a donor child
When Lise and I were going to have our first child we were very affected by how the world around us would react to us having a donor child. Certain family members had strong opinions about the fact that you could not take away the right of a child to know who their father is. Obviously we want to do what is right for the child and we had a lot to consider because our surroundings have created the idea that it was not ethically correct. We started to look into if anyone in our inner circle would consider having a child with us. Sometimes we had some embarrassing moments but we were actually lucky and found a gay couple who was keen on the idea. But the more we spoke about it the clearer it got that it was not the way that Lise and I should do this. We just wanted to be ourselves like all other families, which is why cancelled the plan and chose to have treatment at our own fertility clinic, Diers Klinik and today we are so happy that we made that choice.
There will always be sceptics but I am surprised of how few we actually meet and have met during the last 12 years. I cannot remember the last time I have been confronted by an actual skeptic or critic of donor children. We also live in a really good area where people are tolerant and open. And it is more and more normal to have donor children. At my children’s school I know there are quite a few donor children with different family constellations. So today it is not unnatural to be a donor child and it makes it easier for many people.
Choosing an anonymous or an open donor
In 2006 when we were about to have our first child, there were not a lot of open donors. It was a possibility but this meant that the possibilities in the choice of a donor were decreased. I remember feeling weird about not knowing who I was genetically going to have a child with and I had a need of wanting somebody to approve of him. We asked the sperm bank who we should choose and two eomployees recommended the same one. He was anonymous but when two people approve of him, we had to choose him. And I have not regretted that decision. He is the donor to all three of our children. Lise gave birth to our oldest and youngest and I gave birth to our middle child.
Today many choose to have an open donor because you do not want to take away the child’s possibility of getting to meet their donor. But there is not a right or a wrong choice. Parents will have to choose what feels right to them. If you choose to have a donor child like us, you will have a child that doesn’t have a dad and that is the condition from the beginning. You should just know that the donor commits to a meeting and not a relationship. Now we will have to wait and see whether we chose the right thing for our children but I think it is surprising how little the donor is part of our lives – anonymous or not – for both us and others in network who have donor children. For us and our children, he is a stranger, a grown man who we will be forever grateful to for having helped us and for giving us the biggest present in life. He is my hero.
What actually means something
Of course we thought about if being a donor child would become important to our children but we have been surprised. Our biggest concerns were put to shame while things that we hadn’t given any particular concern got important. An example is that both Lise and I were nervous about whether the child was going to be in need of a male role model.
That is the reason why we asked our network whether someone would like to help out a bit, for example on trips to the indoor swimming pool and so on. But this has showed itself not to mean anything. It has never been a wish or a need for our children and they have never asked for it. This is why it is my view that being a donor child doesn’t mean as much as you may fear.
However, the world’s reaction has meant a lot. It has never been important to us who gave birth to who, but we have realised that it means something to other people and this was a surprise. Many people put a lot of importance on genetics. This also means that Esther has been met with questions about who her “real mum” is. One day Esther came home quite upset and asked, “But if mum-Lise is my real mum, are you then my wrong mum?” She gets upset that some people see our family in that way and think that one type of family is more right than ours. Afterwards we have spoken a lot about why she gets upset and why it feels wrong when people ask.
Language has always been important to us. It has been important for us to give our children a language about being a donor child as early on as possible so they can talk about it and answer the questions they get. We thought about this from the beginning. We bought books that we have read aloud to them ever since they were so small that they couldn’t talk yet and that we later on could talk about. The books were about how they were conceived and how a donor had donated sperm so that they could be born – and not that much about the donor and the role of a dad. Esther has been met by the question “Where is your dad?” and when she didn’t know what to say she answered “He is dead.”. So there probably didn’t do well. But you do the best you can.
Lise and I have a large network of donor parents and they all live a completely normal family life. They don’t stand out in any way and I actually don’t know a single family where being a donor child has meant a lot or where there has been a need for something else. They spend time on making dinner and school lunches just as much as everybody else.
Of course we speak about the donor, but it is almost always me who brings up the subject and not the children. For example, I have read his profile a few times to see whether there are similarities between them. All three of our kids love acting, which Lise and I definitely do not. So it is quite fun to read and interpret things from the donor’s profile which could cause their love of acting or it could just as well be due to our surroundings, environment or the time that we live in. Other than that, I have felt that there has been an increased interest in donor siblings, but the subject is rarely brought up. But we are prepared to help if any new needs or wishes pop up.
In our home the donor has always just been called donor. We have never used the word ‘dad’. To us it sounds wrong because they don’t have a dad. They call us mum and mum-Lise, and sometimes they just call us mum and then I will react but then they will say, “No, the other mum.”
When Lise and I speak to eachother about our family and the wonderful kids we have created we are very aware about the fact that the donor is also a part of our family’s story. Not as a family member but as a person who has given our family the biggest gift.
In the many special moments in our everyday lives where we are filled with love for our children we often send a loving thought to our donor. He has gifted us with the most precious thing in our lives and we will always be forever grateful to him.