Narratives within families with children conceived via sperm donation

When a child asks, “Where do babies come from?,” parents who have conceived via sperm donation are faced with the choice of whether or not to disclose the circumstances of the child’s conception. Disclosure brings up major relational and ethical issues which need to be taken into account in order to better support the families in question. Various methods can be used to facilitate discussion and tell the child the story of their conception. Children’s books are often used by parents and workers because they’re easy to include in the bedtime routine in the form of reading a story. These books help explain assisted reproduction using words and pictures that kids of all ages can understand, which makes it easer to start a conversation on the subject. However, physical and digital supports are rarely available in French and are rarely tailored to the cultural context of Quebec families—a problem noted by workers supporting parents who plan to tell their children about the circumstances of their conception. For this reason, the director of the Ensemble psychology clinic wanted to consider the possibilities of providing children’s literature to support children conceived via sperm donation as they work to integrate their identity.

This participatory research project is being conducted by a research team made up of a clinical psychologist, five mothers who conceived using sperm donation, three researchers, and two research assistants, along with a writer. This process will bring together professional, experiential, scholarly and artistic knowledge in the aim of developing a children’s book on the topic.

This research project is led jointly by principal investigator Kévin Lavoie (U Laval) and Marie-Alexia Allard, co-director of the Ensemble psychology clinic, along with co-researchers Isabel Côté (UQO) and Raphaële Noël (UQAM); Juliana Léveillé-Trudel, writer and director of Productions de Brousse; and the five parents who are members of the research collective.

This project was made possible thanks to the financial support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), [Partnership Engage, 2020–2021].

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