Embryo Donation Families: A Follow-Up in Middle Childhood

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Abstract

Couples who conceive using donated embryos rear a child to whom they are genetically unrelated. It has been suggested that this may have negative consequences for parenting and child development. Findings are presented of the 2nd phase of an exploratory study of families with a child conceived through embryo donation. Seventeen embryo donation families with a 5- to 9-year-old child were compared with 24 adoptive families and 28 in vitro fertilization families. The quality of the mother's parenting and the child's social and emotional development were assessed using standardized interviews and questionnaires administered to mothers and teachers. Embryo donation children were not at increased risk of psychological problems during middle childhood, and the families were generally functioning well. However, higher emotional overinvolvement of embryo donation parents was found, along with more reluctance to disclose the method of family creation. These preliminary findings are discussed in terms of implications regarding the importance of genetic and gestational relationships between parents and children.

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