City Research Online

Families with a child conceived by embryo donation: parenting and child development

Maccullum, Fiona (2004). Families with a child conceived by embryo donation: parenting and child development. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)

Abstract

Embryo donation is the process whereby surplus embryos resulting from IVF procedures are donated to infertile couples. Children conceived using donated embryos are thus raised by two parents with whom they share no genetic relationship, as are adopted children. However, embryo donation families differ from adoptive families in that the parents experience the mother’s pregnancy and the birth of the child, and the children themselves are not relinquished by their birth parents. The aim of the current study was to assess the quality of family relationships, and the psychological development of children, in families with a child conceived by embryo donation. This is the first study worldwide of families created as a result of this process.

A sample of 21 families with a child conceived by embryo donation was compared with 28 families with a child adopted in infancy and 30 families with a child conceived through IVF using the parents’ own gametes. This second comparison group of IVF families was included to control for the experience of infertility and high-tech reproductive procedures. All parents were seen when the child was aged between 2 and 5 years. Standardized interviews and questionnaires were administered to mothers and fathers to assess parent-child relationships and the child’s socioemotional development. In addition, data were obtained on parents’ experiences of the assisted reproduction or adoption procedure, and their attitudes towards disclosure of the child’s origins.

No group differences were found for the quality of parenting variables, including parental warmth, sensitivity, and control. Embryo donation mothers and fathers obtained significantly higher scores on measures of emotional over-involvement and defensive responding than did the adoptive or IVF parents. Furthermore, embryo donation parents were less likely to disclose the method of family creation than adoptive or IVF parents. With respect to the children, no group differences were found for socioemotional functioning.

The results indicate that embryo donation parents’ experience of the pregnancy and the birth of the child does not appear to result in more positive parenting as compared to adoptive parents. Neither does the lack of genetic links lead to less positive parenting as compared to IVF parents. The greater secrecy of embryo donation parents does not seem to have adversely affected the children at this age, with no evidence of raised levels of emotional or behavioural problems. The findings are discussed in terms of the implications for understanding the role of genetic and gestational links between parents and children.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses > School of Arts and Social Sciences Doctoral Theses
School of Arts & Social Sciences
School of Arts & Social Sciences > Psychology
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/21114
[img]
Preview
Text - Submitted Version
Download (9MB) | Preview

Export

Downloads

Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login