Fill in the blank: I don’t want to tell my child ____________________. He is adopted. She was created with donor egg. They were carried by a gestational surrogate.
Parents via adoption, egg or sperm donation, and surrogacy must confront how they will discuss their children’s origins. Some are reluctant, as seen in this conversation I had with a family this week.
“I am not going tell my child he or she is adopted,” proclaimed the prospective adoptive father.
“You will not be approved as an adoptive parent in a homestudy if you are not willing to be honest with your child about the adoption,” I countered.
“Oh, I will tell the social worker what she wants to hear, but what I do in private is my own business,” he admitted.
The Age of Transparency in adoption and assisted reproduction has dawned. Not only is secrecy impossible, our children have taught us that it is wrong.
“The possibility that your 18-year-old will discover his background with a home DNA kit like 23andMe is substantial. If you have not disclosed the adoption, your child will feel that you have perpetrated a lie. Despite your fear, being open about the adoption will not make you less of a parent. The deep bonds you create with your child will create an unbreakable relationship that transcends biology,” I rejoined.
My client had to admit to the practical reality of easy genetic testing and disclosure of birth parent identity, despite his desire to keep the adoption a secret.
The Age of Transparency in adoption and assisted reproduction has dawned. Not only is secrecy impossible, our children have taught us that it is wrong. For several decades, adoptions have been open, as the research has shown the importance to adoptees’ wellbeing of providing them with their birth parents’ identity, background information and medical history. In sperm and egg donation as well, donor-conceived children are vocal in demanding access to knowledge of their biological parents and expressing heartbreak if they have not been told of their origins.
Contrary to my reluctant client’s fears, being honest with children about how they were created deepens their relationships with their parents and is important to their sense of self.