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Oct 200831 January 2007 Oct 2008 The child’s perspective Dr Sharon Pettle Consultant Clinical Psychologist HFEA Oct 2008.

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Presentation on theme: "Oct 200831 January 2007 Oct 2008 The child’s perspective Dr Sharon Pettle Consultant Clinical Psychologist HFEA Oct 2008."— Presentation transcript:

1 Oct January 2007 Oct 2008 The child’s perspective Dr Sharon Pettle Consultant Clinical Psychologist HFEA Oct 2008

2 Oct January 2007 Oct 2008 Main sources of information Retrospective Published accounts Small research studies using structured questionnaires or in depth qualitative approaches Recent study by Current Children aware of their DC origins and participating in workshops Clinical experience

3 Oct January 2007 Oct 2008 Accounts Snowden & Snowden [1983, 1993]..offspring had accepted information ‘equably’..none found information ‘particularly traumatic’, many ‘surprised’ Let The Offspring Speak [Australia 1997] - range of experiences: many told later in life felt secrecy had had negative consequences - information about the donor important

4 Oct January 2007 Oct 2008 Studies Pettle [1999], Turner & Coyle [2000] Offspring told as adults: shocked, hidden clues, impact of secrecy and late telling on relationships, frustration when unable to find more about origins and donor information Jadva et al [2008] included 13 – 17year olds Curiosity common. The younger told, the less common reactions such as confusion, shock, anger and upset reported

5 Oct January 2007 Oct 2008 Children’s workshops Not research focus Encouraged to raise issues, questions, share feelings in a safe context Appreciated and enjoyed being in group where DC is common knowledge and experience Forty children 8 – 12, both genders

6 Oct January 2007 Oct 2008 Issues raised: sharing stories and making sense Degrees of biological relatedness, step – sibs, half sibs, adoption How they had found out Talking with friends [including issues for those with single mothers or lesbian parents. History of donor conception… changes including the Register and abolition of anonymity The role of technology, sense of marvel –about the biology of using donated sperm & eggs. How much they were wanted, and how long adults waited wanting a baby

7 Oct January 2007 Oct 2008 Issues raised: curiosity about donors What information will be there and what they would like. Half siblings – other DC families, the donor’s own children Fantasies…. might the donor be someone famous Whether donors could be traced, or could trace them Thoughts of searching, finding and meeting Occasional known donor – some envy

8 Oct January 2007 Oct 2008 Opening the register Will it be clearly publicised? Perturbing for parents who have not shared DC origins with their children, for donors and their families Tempt young people who are not DC but whose experiences have raised questions Bring topic to the forefront for donors

9 Oct January 2007 Oct 2008 Young people who know From childhood may have been aware of the limitations of information available May already have information – but seeking more Possibility that donor now willing to be identified – although their parents thought s/he would remain anonymous

10 Oct January 2007 Oct 2008 The potential impact Hard to predict - need to gather information that can help prepare others Some people might have been told recently and/or precipitately ‘Act of confirmation’ – may have symbolic significance. Identity/sense of self may be supported or perturbed People disappointed & frustrated by lack of detail

11 Oct January 2007 Oct 2008 Some potential challenges Facing the possibility of making contact where donors have agreed For families particularly where open communication was not in place For young people struggling with identity issues or hoped for partnerships

12 Oct January 2007 Oct 2008 Where to go for help? Similarities with Post-Adoption Does not fit with remit of child or adult mental health services Clinics where treatment was provided may not be appropriate context Does this indicate the need for a dedicated service, where expertise can be developed and disseminated


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