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Of course he’s our child’
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Of course he’s our child’: transitions in social parenthood in donor sperm recipient families

A. Indekeu


Corresponding Author Information
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, T. D’Hooghe , K.R. Daniels , K. Dierickx , P. Rober


Received 22 April 2013; received in revised form 19 June 2013; accepted 10 September 2013. published online 07 October 2013.

Declaration: The authors report no financial or commercial conflicts of interest.
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Abstract

This study examines transitions and consistencies in the views of donor sperm recipients on ‘parenthood’ and ‘family’ over time. A longitudinal qualitative study was carried out with 19 donor sperm recipients. Interviews took place during pregnancy, at birth and 1.5–2years after birth and were analysed using a grounded theory approach. Participants intending to disclose the donor conception to their offspring (13/19) exhibited a transition from feeling anxious prior to birth to feeling more confident during the toddler stage about their parenthood. Previous anxieties about the lack of biological ties decreased as emerging social ties became more significant. Following birth, these participants (13/19) felt acknowledged by others as parents, which elicited feelings of normalization. Being able to engage in parenting and develop parental relations enhanced their confidence in their parental position. This confidence empowered donor sperm recipients to tackle future challenges and made them more convinced about their disclosure intention. Participants intending not to disclose the donor conception (6/19) reported viewing their parenthood as no different from parenthood experienced by naturally conceiving parents, no transitions were observed and insecurity about physical traits that could reveal the donor conception remained. These findings have implications for counselling throughout specific stages in parenthood.

This study aimed to examine possible transitions or consistencies in the views of donor sperm recipients on ‘parenthood’ and ‘family’ over time. A longitudinal qualitative study was carried out with 19 donor sperm recipients. Interviews took place during pregnancy, at birth and 1.5–2years after birth and were analysed using a grounded theory approach. Participants who intended to disclose the donor conception to the offspring exhibited a transition from feeling anxious prior to birth to feeling more confident at toddler stage about their parenthood. Previous anxieties about the lack of biological ties decreased and emerging social ties became more significant. Following birth, participants felt acknowledged by others as parents who elicited feelings of normalization and de-stigmatization. Being able to engage in parenting and develop parental relations enhanced confidence in their parental position. This confidence gave donor sperm recipients strength to tackle future challenges and made them more convinced about their disclosure intention. Participants who intended not to disclose the donor conception viewed their parenthood as not different from parenthood experienced by natural conceiving parents and no transitions were observed. Insecurity about offspring’s physical traits that could reveal the donor conception remained for this last group. These findings have implications for counselling in the specific stages in parenthood.

Keywords: gamete donation, parenthood, sperm donation, transition

 
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