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Families created through oocyte donation (OD): a follow-up investigation of disclosure/non-disclosure to offspring, ages 8 and older

      Objective

      To determine whether parents’ original plans about disclosure to offspring were consistent with what actually occurred in this population of OD children.

      Design

      A qualitative, descriptive study.

      Materials and Methods

      459 families who delivered a child(ren) using OD at a large, urban IVF center between 1992 & 2003 were invited to participate in 1 of 2 seminars offered for this study. Seminars consisted of discussions of parents’ disclosure decisions and the completion of a questionnaire exploring those decisions. Demographic data were also obtained. Several subjects elected to complete the questionnaire by mail, telephone, or in person at a later date. Partners completed separate questionnaires. Qualitative and descriptive analyses of data were performed to characterize survey responses.

      Results

      64 participated in the study, representing 73 children ranging in age from 2 to 19 years, including younger siblings. 7 families declined to participate and requested no future contact. 108 invitations were undeliverable. 43% of respondents had disclosed to their offspring. 57% had not disclosed. The average age of disclosure to the offspring was 6.5 years, ranging from age 1-17. Of those who did not disclose, 87.5% still plan to do so. Of this cohort, 43% cited uncertainty about how and when to tell as the primary reason for non-disclosure.

      Conclusion

      Those families who disclosed before the age of 10 reported no anxiety in relation to disclosure and expressed full confidence that they had done the right thing by allowing their children to grow into their conception story. High anxiety was reported among the non-disclosing families who continue to wait for the “right time” and now find themselves faced with the prospect of disclosing to teenagers or young adults. The study strongly suggests that OD parents are in critical need of ongoing psychosocial support and information about the disclosure process throughout child-rearing.