Despite children to know their donor, and should

Despite this, a study from Scheib, Riordan, and Rubin
(2005) of adolescents with open-identity donors found that 86 percent of
the participants were curious about their donor. This high percentile of
curiosity opens the argument that perhaps even if unsettling for the family, it
is clearly a desire for many children to know their donor, and should be an
option; something that anonymity takes away. The results showed that they were generally
wanting more information about the donor in terms of characteristics or
appearance. The results also showed that some had questions about his family, his
reasons for donating, and whether he ever thinks about or is open to meeting
his offspring. The majority planned on contacting the donor upon reaching 18. They
hoped that contact would help them learn more about themselves, and half hoped
to have some type of relationship with him. It was reported that only 21
percent had not really thought about their donor, and just 17 percent did not
care about him. This is consistent with the UK’s main reason for the change in
legislation; the idea that it is a human right and innate need to discover
their biological route.

Young people have strong moral claims to
know their genetic identities. The United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) Article
7 states that all children should have the right to know and be cared for by his
or her parents. This could be interpreted as the ‘intended’ parents, however, in
the debate about anonymity, this has been expressed as the child’s right to
know the identity of their gamete donor. Turner (1993) argued that being denied knowledge
about one’s biological origins can be harmful to donor offspring. The
psychological theory of Genealogical bewilderment refers to potential identity
problems that could be experienced by a child who was either fostered, adopted,
or conceived via ART. The concept was first introduced by Wellisch (1952). The term
“genealogical bewilderment” was devised by Sants (1964), referring to the difficulty of
children who have little knowledge of one or both of their natural parents. He
said knowledge of descent is a necessity for a child to build a complete body
image and world picture, and that it is an entitled right of every person. Sants
proposed that there is an urge in everybody to follow the tradition of their
family, race, nation, and the religious community into which they’re born. The
loss of this tradition could be deemed a deprivation, which may result in the decline
of emotional development. Sants argued that genealogical bewilderment created a
large part of the additional stress that adoptees experienced that is not
experienced by children raised by their natural parents. This is thought to
also be apparent and generalised in donor inseminated children, as the
uncertainty of genetics amongst this sample is still present. However, adoption
brings a variety of other negative factors that may cause stress, in comparison
to donor families.

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Humphrey & Humphrey (1986) re-examined the
concept of genealogical bewilderment and concluded that, if the quality of
family relationships is sufficient to meet the child’s emotional needs, then
there is no reason why genealogical knowledge should be a requirement of good
mental health. This backs up evidence which suggests it is the quality of
family connection and functioning that is more important than the actual
structure of the family.

There is a lot of conflicting research on
the importance of a biological father figure, and a ‘normal’ heterosexual
couple. Many forms of family structure exist in modern societies today. Studies,
such as Jacobsen et al (2002),
found a damaging effect of parental separation, divorce, lone parenthood, cohabitation
and remarriage on children. They proposed that being raised in a step-family is
correlated with poorer outcomes on a wide range of measures, including
psycho-social distress and behavioural disorders. Haveman and Wolfe (1993) suggested it led to
academic underachievement and early school-leaving, unemployment, and early
transitions into adult behaviour. It is thought, however, that these poorer
outcomes are more likely to be related to an unstable home life rather than the
absence of a biological father. Further research from Amato (2000) showed that living apart from
one’s biological father is correlated with a greater risk of adverse outcomes, regardless
of race, education, or whether the mother remarries. Regarding remarriage; it
could be generalised to families with a father figure who isn’t biologically
related, such as in the case of donors. Nevertheless, further research would be
needed to investigate this hypothesis, as in remarriage the child may have
experienced a breakdown of a family, and the new partner could be deemed to
replacing their father, causing distress and other adverse effects. Whereas in
donor families, the male has always provided a fatherly figure and stable home despite
genetics.

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