According to the results of a recent study carried out at a Cambridge University in the UK, the rather topical and very controversial idea of telling sperm donor-ed children, is highly significant and ultimately important to their growth and development. When the team spoke to 165 children, all of an age where they were fully developed, they realised that those who were not informed of their revolutionary beginnings felt immense anger and shock when informed.
The results showed that around three quarters of the children studying were brought up in either a single parent of gay partnership and were informed of their beginnings by the time they were the age of 3. Only 9% of these children were brought up in a heterosexual environment. Out of this final figure of children brought up in a man/woman relationship, a third of them were told about their origins when they were at least 18. It was these people who found taking on board the news badly, in many circumstances.
It was found that when these people were told at such a young age when they were still toddlers, they said that their response to the news had been one of not truly understanding, yet taking it on board and not feeling any emotion.
Yet surely telling a child so young is merely dumping something rather adult on their shoulders. Taking the moment for the parent to emotionally dump such information on a young mind is only diverting to something that is a real issue and needs to be treated so when the child becomes an adult. Is this then the parent just passing the buck, hoping for an easier ride? Yet this idea does seem to to work, as one 13 year old, who was informed at the age of 4 put it,
"I was so young I don't remember feeling much more than interested and curious."
Yet the idea that children should be informed has hit a very raw nerve with many skeptics who say this will only lead to a dramatic rise in the numbers of children wishing to seek out their natural father. Thus in turn forcing a vast majority of men out of donor-ship who wishing equally, to stay anonymous.
At the recent European reproductive health conference, this point was highlighted as a matter of importance and referred to the idea of such information being given to the child as only being an advantage to the child and not to either biological parent involved. Yet despite the loggerheads, parents groups in England have urged the move towards this information being shared with children.
Yet we must ask, will a child at a very young age be able to handle such information, even if it is said with the best intentions, or will it only go the other way and damage a child's well-being particularly if it is information which can be leaked to other children in a school environment? For one woman who was interviewed for the study, finding out about her origins was more than she could handle. She said,
"Learning of my biological identity at 17 years of age was a traumatic event.."
She went on,
"I would have appreciated revelation of this information much earlier in my life."
According list from the US Donor Sibling Registry
, the children questioned for the study, were aged between 13 and 6, 98% of these still living in the US. It is the first study of it's kind which has focused on the issue of children becoming aware of their origins in relation being a result of sperm donor.
Speaking on behalf of the study's team at the Centre for Family Research at the University of Cambridge, Dr Vasanti Jadva told BBC News,
"It appears it is better for children to be told about their donor conception at an early age. This finding is in line with research on adoption, which also shows that children benefit from early disclosure about the circumstances of their birth."
In agreement to the idea that information should be passed on to the child at a very young age, Olivia Montuschi, who spoke on behalf of UK's Donor Conception Network, also said,
"We advocate openness from the beginning, from before a child reaches five. We even encourage talking to babies about how they were conceived, not because they will understand, but so that parents can practice talking about the issue and get used to the language they want to use. If parents do it this way, there is no big revelation. It just becomes one of the things a child knows about itself."