WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY

There is an assumption that children conceived through reproductive donation will feel negatively about their origins in adolescence. However, little is known about the views of adolescents who have been conceived through different types of reproductive donation.

STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION

Forty-four adolescents, all of whom had been told about their conception in childhood, participated in a semi-structured interview as part of the sixth phase of a longitudinal, multi-method, multi-informant study of assisted reproduction families in the UK.

PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS

All adolescents were aged 14 years, had been conceived using surrogacy (n = 22), egg donation (n = 13) or sperm donation (n = 9) to heterosexual couples, and varied in terms of their information about, and contact with, the third party involved in their conception. Semi-structured interviews were conducted in participants’ homes. Interviews were analysed qualitatively to determine adolescents’ perceptions of their conception, and their thoughts and feelings about the surrogate or donor involved.

MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE

Adolescents were found to feel positive (n = 7), indifferent (n = 32) or ambivalent (n = 5) about their conception. Amongst adolescents not in contact with the surrogate or donor, most were interested (n = 16) in the surrogate or donor, and others were ambivalent (n = 4), or not interested (n = 6) in them. Adolescents in contact with the surrogate or donor expressed positive (n = 14), ambivalent (n = 1) or negative (n = 1) feelings about them.

LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION

Of 56 adolescents invited to take part in the study, 47 consented to take part, giving a response rate of 84%. It was not possible to obtain information from adolescents who do not know about their conception.

WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS

The findings contradict the assumption that children conceived through reproductive donation will feel negatively about their origins in adolescence and suggest that it may be helpful to draw a distinction between adolescents’ feelings about their conception in general, and their feelings about the surrogate or donor in particular.

STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S)

This study was funded by the Wellcome Trust [097857/Z/11/Z]. The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.