Discussing Donor Insemination with Children
When discussing your children’s origins with them, begin by deciding what information you want your children to have right now and how you want to convey it. In talking to young children about their origins, it is usually best to keep the message clear and simple. For example, "Your moms wanted to have you, and a doctor helped us," might suffice for a 3-year-old.
As children grow older, you can add details. For example, an explanation more appropriate for a 5-year-old might be: "Your moms wanted to have you, and a doctor helped us put sperm into mommy that met her eggs and grew into the baby that was you." But at all ages, emotional messages are at least as important as factual details, so don't forget to tell children how happy you felt when they came into your life.
When should you initiate these kinds of discussions?
Especially at first, such talks are not likely to last long, so you can slip them in at any of a number of different times: when driving in the car, having a meal, during a child's bath, etc. If you are uncomfortable with a direct approach, you can begin by reading them relevant books, like Heather Has Two Mommies.
From your children's responses, you will be able to judge their levels of understanding. Your 3-year-old will probably soon shift attention to other matters, but your 5-year-old may be attuned to issues related to his origins and ready to learn more. Neither is likely to appreciate the cultural weight carried by lesbian identities, though, so it is probably best to save detailed discussions of stigma and prejudice for later.
Preparing for the questions from others: "Which of you is the mother?"
Nobody will be more interested in your answers than your children, so give the kinds of responses that you want them to hear. "I am" may be true and may halt the inquisition. But, if your child has two mothers, "We are both the mothers; he is lucky enough to have two moms," conveys much more to the audience that is, after all, most important: your children who are listening intently to hear what you will say.
For more information, see COLAGE’s Donor Insemination Guide at www.colage.org.