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Title: Families created by gamete donation : disclosure and family functioning when children are seven years old
Author: Blake, Lucy
ISNI:       0000 0004 0132 8403
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2012
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Recent advances in assisted reproductive technologies have resulted in an increasing number of children born by gamete donation. Children conceived by egg donation lack a genetic link with their mother whereas children conceived by donor insemination lack a genetic link with their father. In families in which parents do not disclose their use of donated gametes, the child is unaware that their mother or their father in not their genetic parent. The aim of this thesis was to assess the impact of non-disclosure, and of the absence of a genetic link between parent and child, on family functioning and child adjustment. Data were obtained from a representative sample of 36 donor insemination, 32 egg donation and 54 natural conception families when the target child was 7 years old. Standardised interview, questionnaire and observational data were obtained from mothers, fathers, children and the child?s teacher. Few differences in family functioning were found between disclosing and non-disclosing gamete donation families. Likewise, few differences emerged between gamete donation families and natural conception families. The families were found to be functioning well irrespective of whether the parents had disclosed and of whether the child lacked a genetic link with a parent. However, comparisons between donor insemination and egg donation families showed that disclosure status and family type interacted in complex ways. Contrary to predictions, disclosure was not always associated with favourable outcomes. Children in disclosing donor insemination families were rated by teachers as having fewer behavioural problems. However, observational ratings showed lower levels of positive mother-child interaction in disclosing egg donation families. The process of disclosure was also explored. In all but one disclosing family, parents had started to talk to their child about their donor conception by age 4, with disclosure typically initiated and maintained by the mother. Despite mothers? concerns, children did not appear distressed by information about their donor conception. However, interviews with the children themselves suggested that most had little understanding of their donor conception at age 7.
Supervisor: Golombok, Susan Sponsor: National Institute of Health (RO1HD051621)
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Donor conception ; Family functioning ; Disclosure ; Donor insemination ; Egg donation ; Child adjustment