Thank you science!
Here is what the thousands of parents who have reached parenthood through in vitro fertilization should say. Developed by British biologist Robert Edwards more than forty years ago, this method of medically assisted procreation bore fruit for the first time in England in 1978, with the birth of little Louise Brown.
It will be necessary to wait another 4 years, in 1982, to see the first IVF succeed in France, with the birth of the little Amandine. But what is IVF exactly?
The technique consists simply in bringing together the woman’s oocytes and the man’s sperm in a test tube. The goal is to lead to fertilization, to obtain embryos which will then be transferred into the woman’s uterine cavity.
Said like that, it sounds super easy, right? Well not that much? The IVF success rate is estimated to be only 25%. Who is in vitro fertilization for? Should you be accompanied by a shrink? Should I tell the kids later?
Baby IVF: should you tell the children?
With the thousands of babies conceived each year by in vitro fertilization, insemination, donation of gametes, parents have a new question: that of information on the mode of conception. Should you tell your children where they come from? And how were they born?
Flora did not hesitate to reveal to her twins how they were conceived. “For me it was natural to tell them that they understand that we had a little boost from medicine to have them,” said this young mother. For her, as for dozens of other parents, the revelation about the way of conception was not a problem.
Strongly criticized in its early days, IVF has now entered into people’s minds. It is true that in the past 20 years, the techniques of medically assisted procreation have become commonplace. Some 350,000 babies are now conceived each year by in vitro fertilization, or 0.3% of the 130 million babies born around the world. A record!
The way the baby was conceived
The issue is not the same for children born of anonymous parentage. Sperm or egg donation procreation has grown a lot in recent years too. In all cases, the donation is anonymous.
The bioethics laws ensures the anonymity of gamete donation. The donor may not be informed of the destination of his donation and, conversely: neither the parents nor the child can ever know the identity of the donor.
Under these conditions, whether or not to disclose the particular mode of conception to your child is a permanent source of questioning on the part of the parents. Knowing your origins, your family history is essential to build yourself in life. But is the mere information on the mode of conception sufficient to satisfy this need for knowledge?
In the past, you had to say nothing. But one day or the other, the child would discover the truth, as it was an open secret. There is always someone who knows. The question of resemblances plays, sometimes, it is the child himself who feels something, according to specialists in bioethics issues.
In these circumstances, the revelation is often made at the time of a conflict. When a divorce went wrong, a mother denounced her ex-husband as not being the father of her children. An uncle confessed on his deathbed …
If the announcement results in an upheaval in the child, an emotional shock, it is even more violent if he learns it during a family dispute. The child does not understand that it has been hidden from him for so long, it means for him that his story is shameful, according to psychoanalysts.
IVF: tell the child, but how?
Since then, mentalities have changed. Couples are now advised not to keep any secrets around the child. If he asks questions about his birth, about his family, parents should be able to provide the answers. His design is part of his history, he must be informed in all transparency.
Yes, but how to say it then?
It is up to the parents to take responsibility first, if they are not comfortable with this question of origins, if it echoes suffering, then the message may not get through.
However, there is no miracle recipe. Remain humble, explain why we called upon a donation of gametes. As for age, it is better to avoid adolescence, which is a period when children are fragile. Many young parents say this very early on when the child is 3 or 4 years old. He is already able to understand. Other couples prefer to wait until he is an adult or of childbearing age himself.
However, is this information alone sufficient?
On this point, the very clear law guarantees the anonymity of donors. But this system creates frustration in children. It’s important to tell him the truth, but basically it doesn’t change the problem, because his next question will be, so who is it? And parents can only answer that they don’t know.