Ask Amy: Donor-conceived children should be told
Dear Amy: I have read advice in your column suggesting that it is wisest to tell children about their adoption starting very young.
My six-year-old twin grandchildren have never been told that their momma’s eggs came from an egg donor.
The parents are now divorced but are very friendly.
Should they tell the kids?
Their momma carried them and gave birth to them.
Dear Wondering: As with children who join their families through adoption, parents should also tell children who were conceived through donation their true birth story – ideally starting when the children are pre-verbal.
This gives parents lots of practice in telling the story, and normalizes it for everyone.
What parents should NOT do is treat this as a mystery or a family secret. Families are made in many different ways, and children are capable of understanding this because they see it in their own world.
Kids notice that not all families are the same. For instance, your grandkids’ folks are divorced – but the parents and kids are still in a family together. They are also quite curious about their own origin story.
Not knowing the truth and then finding out later can prove genuinely traumatic for people – who upon learning that their birth is the result of sperm or egg donation can struggle understanding their true identity and wonder why nobody ever told them the story surrounding their conception and birth.
Another reason for parents to tell – and retell – this story is that in this day of easy DNA testing (and certainly in the future), all children will eventually have access to this knowledge when they are older.
Because these parents are divorced, they should both talk to the twins about the very happy way they came into the world. They should answer all questions as they arise. Even though some donor-conceived people eventually meet their biological relations, they know their parents are the people who raised them.
There are a number of charming children’s books describing this process in age-appropriate ways.
One I like is, “The Pea that was Me: An Egg-Donation Story,” by Kimberly Kluger-Bell (2012, CreateSpace Independent).
Dear Amy: My wife and I have two young children. One is in pre-school and the other is in first grade. My wife and I both work.
I recently found a basketball league of other dads that I’d like to join. The games are one evening a week.
I haven’t approached my wife about doing this, but honestly – I’m nervous about it. She works really hard, and I don’t want her to feel like I’m abandoning her.
Maybe I should just wait until the kids are older.
What do you think?
– Nervous Dad
Dear Dad: Take it from me – if “wait until the kids are older” is your primary strategy for tackling life, you will never leave the house again.
Parenting younger children is often about divide and conquer.
You and your wife should both find something besides work (and outside the home) that engages, invigorates, and connects you with other adults.
You should approach her with the idea that if she can hold down the fort one weeknight, you will take another night (or a weekend morning).
If your wife is overwhelmed by this idea, you might be able to find a pickup game on a Saturday or Sunday, and either take the kids with you, or engage someone to play with the kids while you are playing with the dads.
Dear Amy: Your recent response to a letter from “Feeling Guilty,” which concerned salary discussions and disclosure of compensation in the workplace was woefully incomplete.
Companies may have a policy against salary discussions or at least a culture of non-disclosure.
Just because salary discussions are protected by law does not mean that such conversations are appropriate. There are legitimate reasons why salary increases are provided for some but not others.
If the letter writer shares this personal information in an effort to help the co-worker, it may backfire and damage the letter writer’s career.
Dear Disappointed: In my (admittedly limited) experience, most companies have a “culture of non-disclosure.” That’s because it is in the company’s interest for co-workers to keep their compensation a secret.
“Feeling Guilty” reported that her colleague confided that she (the colleague) hadn’t received a raise during her entire 10-year career with the company.
Feeling Guilty, who had received several raises, could encourage her colleague to look for another job by stating that others have received raises, without disclosing specifics.
©2022 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.