Do kids think of sperm donors as family?

This animation always contains deep meaning and realistic ironies.

What is a parent?

Universally known that puberty is thorny. Parents may have different views on it——like in this episode, father saying we have to stop him from having sex with a robot while mother saying no it is normal thing of puberty. Later, mom says that child always grows a monster.

It's not an easy question. Today we have adoption, stepfamilies, surrogate mothers. Many parents face tough questions and tough decisions. Shall we tell our child about the sperm donation? If so, when? What words to use? Sperm donors are often referred to as "biological fathers," but should we really be using the word "father?"

The dialogue of rick and morty is always worth thinking twice. It reveals the bloody facts that we are used to avoiding talking.

As a philosopher and social scientist, I have been studying these questions about the concept of parenthood. But today, I will talk to you about what I learned from talking to parents and children. I will show you that they know what matters most in a family, even though their family looks a little different. I will show you their creative ways of dealing with tough questions. But I will also show you the parents' uncertainties.

“my life is a lie!” little morty says so and then runs away.

We interviewed couples who received fertility treatment at Ghent University Hospital, using sperm from a donor. In this treatment timeline, you can see two points at which we conducted interviews. We included heterosexual couples, where the man for some reason did not have good-quality sperm, and lesbian couples who obviously needed to find sperm elsewhere. We also included children. I wanted to know how those children define concepts like parenthood and family. In fact, that is what I asked them, only not in that way. I drew an apple tree instead. This way, I could ask abstract, philosophical questions in a way that did not make them run off.

“I’m sorry that I lied to you and yelled to you just like my parents did.”

So as you can see, the apple tree is empty. And that illustrates my research approach. By designing techniques like this, I can bring as little meaning and content as possible to the interview, because I want to hear that from them.

“I promise I will call u whenever I need money or laundry to do.”

I asked them: What would your family look like if it were an apple tree? And they could take a paper apple for everyone who, in their view, was a member of the family, write a name on it and hang it wherever they wanted. And I would ask questions. Most children started with a parent or a sibling. One started with "Boxer," the dead dog of his grandparents.

That’s so ironic and also what happens in real life. We just cover it with so-called moving and awesome affection. Whenever there is a reveal there oomes thoughts of realistic unperfect.

At this point, none of the children started mentioning the donor. So, I asked them about their birth story. I said, "Before you were born, it was just your mom and dad, or mom and mommy. Can you tell me how you came into the family?" And they explained. One said, "My parents did not have good seeds, but there are friendly men out there who have spare seeds. They bring them to the hospital, and they put them in a big jar. My mommy went there, and she took two from the jar, one for me and one for my sister. She put the seeds in her belly -- somehow -- and her belly grew really big, and there I was."

We see that things can also go wrong even we do all have good original intention. And parents are just children who have children. Yesterday they are having sex and then today they have a child. We all admit that having sex is not equal to mature, do we? Then why would we think that parents must have grown mature. That’s paradox.

Hmm. So only when they started mentioning the donor, I asked questions about him, using their own words. I said, "If this would be an apple for the friendly man with the seeds, what would you do with it?" And one boy was thinking out loud, holding the apple. And he said, "I won't put this one up there with the others. He's not part of my family. But I will not put him on the ground. That's too cold and too hard. I think he should be in the trunk, because he made my family possible. If he would not have done this, that would really be sad because my family would not be here, and I would not be here."

They feel nothing but at a loss what to do and then time goes children just become bigger and bigger even with so much regret.Reality does so.Like an old saying, ”life is like a boat. u can’t repair your boat on a shipyard but repair it on the sea while navigating. ”

So also, parents constructed family tales -- tales to tell their children. One couple explained their insemination by taking their children to a farm to watch a vet inseminate cows. And why not? It's their way of explaining; their do-it-yourself with family narratives. DIY. And we had another couple who made books -- a book for each child. They were really works of art containing their thoughts and feelings throughout the treatment. They even had the hospital parking tickets in there.

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So it is DIY: finding ways, words and images to tell your family story to your child. And these stories were highly diverse, but they all had one thing in common: it was a tale of longing for a child and a quest for that child. It was about how special and how deeply loved their child was. And research so far shows that these children are doing fine. They do not have more problems than other kids.

Yet, these parents also wanted to justify their decisions through the tales they tell. They hoped that their children would understand their reasons for making the family in this way. Underlying was a fear that their children might disapprove and would reject the non-genetic parent. And that fear is understandable, because we live in a very heteronormative and geneticized society -- a world that still believes that true families consist of one mom, one dad and their genetically related children.

Well. I want to tell you about a teenage boy. He was donor-conceived but not part of our study. One day, he had an argument with his father, and he yelled, "You're telling me what to do? You're not even my father!" That was exactly what the parents in our study feared. Now, the boy soon felt sorry, and they made up. But it is the reaction of his father that is most interesting.

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