ART - Talking to Children About Assisted Reproductive Technology

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Overview

Since Louise Brown, the world’s first “test-tube baby,” made her famous debut on July 25, 1978, the birth of babies through assisted reproductive technology (ART) has gone from the stuff of tabloids to everyday occurrences. As technology has advanced, the number of babies born through ART has soared, doubling in just the five years between 1996 and 2001.

Suddenly, it’s become possible for children to have as many as 5 parents – a genetic mother to contribute the egg, a genetic father to provide sperm, a gestational mother to receive the embryo and carry the pregnancy, a recipient mother to raise the child, and a recipient dad. New types of families have been created before anyone could assess their effects on children and parents.

Because ART is so new, research on children is still limited; but the initial reports are encouraging. Children conceived by ART seem to have good relationships with their parents, even when they lack a genetic link to one or both. On this website, you’ll be able to hear the voices of families who are living proof.

Children born through the newer technologies are just beginning to reach adolescence. Little has been reported about how they’re faring. What issues arise as these children become preteens and teens? Does having been born through ART complicate their adolescent search for identity? Are they more (or less) attached to their genetic or non-genetic parents? Do the kids feel weird? On this site you’ll hear from the parents and children themselves, and from professionals who work with ART families.

Parents of adolescents born through ART are truly pioneers. They are figuring it out as they go, celebrating triumphs and overcoming obstacles. By hearing first-hand how parents and kids are managing and what researchers are learning, we hope you’ll find encouragement. You’ll also find resources you can turn to for more information, support, or professional counseling.

"When I was younger, I always told myself that when I turn 18 I'll be old and mature and I'll be ready to meet her. I'll show up on her doorstep, and she'll open the door, and she'll recognize me immediately, and she'll pull me into this tight embrace and all the fantasies about finding your long-lost mother, and things like that. But I'm 18 now, and I have no idea what I would even say to her. I have no idea what I would even do. I don't know what she would do."
— Rebecca Gitlin


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