Telling your child about donor conception

Telling your child about donor conception

Many patients require donor sperm, eggs, or embryos to be able to have a family, including single women, same-sex, and heterosexual couples. Their journey to parenthood is more complicated (and more expensive) than others going through a natural pregnancy or even IVF, however, they also have another hurdle to overcome: how and when should you tell your child about their donor?

One of our patients who used donor sperm to conceive sent us a message about how she told her six-year-old daughter Matilda about her donor. She has given us permission to share their story in the hope it inspires and helps others going through donation and IVF.

"I sat down with Matilda who is almost 6 and opened up the discussion about her donor conception. I found a wonderful book on Amazon called "You Were Meant To Be!" by Sherry Keen that explained a family's 'missing piece' and the special people that help these families.



Matilda listened intently as we read the book and then she had some questions about who in our family had the missing piece and who helped us find that piece? She asked some questions about her donor, so I got out our donor profile and we had a little look through. She discovered that she's very tall like her donor but she has brown eyes just like mummy. 

Matilda thought that 'donor' sounds like 'donut' and so now talks about having a mummy, a daddy, and a donut! 🍩😆😆

After reading the story and the donor profile, Matilda asked if we could make our own book about us and her donor, so we sat down and went through some photos and created a very special book that had our pages and a copy of her donor's profile. I wasn't sure whether six was a tad late for introducing the topic but I'm so happy with how it went and Matilda has really embraced this special part of who she is."

Donut book montage

This really touched our hearts and we want to say thank you so much for sharing what is a very personal story ❤️

If you are considering your own approach, we’ve found the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority (VARTA) has really good tips on how to tell your child about donor conception including:

  • There is no 'right’ or ‘wrong' way or words to use. It is not what you say but how you say it that reflects your love and pride in the way you became a family. Hearing this will ensure your child understands they are much-wanted.
  • Be confident and proud. If your child senses that you are embarrassed or ashamed that you used fertility treatment, this may affect the way they feel about themselves. As a result, they may be less likely to want to ask questions or talk to you about it in the future.
  • Don't make it a big deal. Your child’s donor conception or surrogacy story is only one facet of who they are. All children want to feel special but that does not mean they want to feel different from their peers. Try not to refer to your donor or surrogate as if they are a superhero - they are ordinary people who did something extraordinary to help. At the same time, it is important that you convey high regard for the person that helped you become parents.
  • Remember the first conversation is just that - a beginning. Your child will have their own particular thoughts and questions and they need to feel able to talk to you about them. Keep the conversations going - they may need to hear some information more than once. It might also be helpful for them to talk with someone other than you - just as you may benefit from having a supportive friend, family member, or counsellor to talk things over with.
  • Every child’s reaction is different. Your child's response may surprise you as they may show little reaction and you may wonder if they have absorbed the information. They may become quiet and need time to process things. Conversely, they may be quite curious. Older children may be shocked or angry; they may also need time and space to deal with what they have learned. They may be sad they do not share a genetic link with you and confused as to what implications this has for their other relationships within the family.


  • Flinders Fertility patient message used with permission
  • VARTA after-donor-conception/telling-children-family-and-others