Will I love my embaby just as much?
Short answer: YES! Exploratory research suggests that parents of embryo donated children are more emotionally engaged than even IVF families using their own genetics[i].
Reproductive medicine solutions are physically, emotionally, and financially taxing, so families opt for this route only if they really want children. But what happens when those families look to creating their family with embryos that are not their own genetics? How does that impact the attachment they have for their children?
In a two-phase study of UK families who have used alternative methods to start their families – IVF, embryo donation (ED), and traditional adoption[ii] – embryo donated children are well-balanced, and the parents engaged and happy. Let’s dig into this a little more.
1. Satisfaction: Mom’s marital satisfaction and parenting stress didn’t differ between the groups. Incidentally, embryo donated mothers actually leaned more towards HAPPIER marriages, though not statistically greater.
2. Warmth: Moms in all three groups demonstrated high levels of warmth, defined by enjoyment in play and in motherhood, expressed warmth, and sensitive responding. ED moms actually scored HIGHEST of the groups on play enjoyment and sensitive responding. ED moms love the day to day joy of being moms!
3. Supervision & Involvement: The majority of all parents was relatively high involvement. Everyone is watching their kids appropriately (nice job, moms!!), with directionally “over-involved” scores for ED moms. I’ll take that!
Now, kids: In this study, children in middle childhood (5 – 9 yrs old) were evaluated on overall difficulty. Not my favorite way to evaluate children, but there are some interesting stats none the less.
1. Emotional adjustment: Children overall fell into a normal range, with ED and IVF children about the same. And that over-involvement mentioned above? Studies show that it doesn’t affect the child’s social adjustment, so go ahead and love them!!
2. Hyperactivity and Peer Problems: ED and IVF also fall in the normal range here. Traditionally adopted children were noted borderline more challenging. The researcher notes that these children may be dealing with more difficult genetic backgrounds and pre-natal conditions than ED and IVF children, impacting their socio-emotional development.
“Will I love my child?” is a big question and worth addressing with a reproductive counselor. If you’re asking, you’re in the majority, and doing a healthy self-assessment to prepare yourself for the journey! If you’d like to learn more or speak to an experienced ED parent, please reach out: 303-903-0433 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
[i] Maccallum, Fiona & Keeley, Sarah. (2009). Embryo Donation Families: A Follow-Up in Middle Childhood. Journal of family psychology : JFP : journal of the Division of Family Psychology of the American Psychological Association (Division 43). 22. 799-808. 10.1037/a0013197.
[ii] These groups were chosen because each has taken additional measures to have children, beyond natural conception.