Joyously, we live in a time when there are many routes single and gay parents can take to conception and parenthood. But there are unique challenges to face, and one of them is presented by the little ones themselves. We’re talking of course about the inevitable question: ‘where did I come from?’.
For children from nuclear families, it’s easy to find books and TV shows that reflect their realities. Peppa Pig has a brother, a mum, and a dad. Disney princesses have kings and queens for parents. Even Invader Zim has a robotic decoy mum and dad.
So, what about the children whose families don’t look like the ones on TV? What about the kids with two mummies, two daddies, or solo parents? What about donor-conceived or surrogate babies? With a noticeable lack of diversity in early-years entertainment, non-traditional families are taking matters into their own hands.
Erika and Karen are two such mums. Their daughter Eva Rose came into the world via donor conception. When she reached 2-and-a-half, Erika and Karen wanted to explain to their daughter how she came to be, in a way she could understand, enjoy, and explain to others.
The Magic of You seeks to provide exactly that.
What is The Magic of You?
A personalised book for children who have had assistance in being conceived or carried, The Magic of You is a creative, heartwarming, and totally unique way to tell your children the story of their biological heritage.
Parents can have their family’s story printed in a beautifully illustrated, hardback-cover book, along with avatars of their and their children’s images to make it truly their own.
We spoke to Karen and Erika about their Magic of You experience.
Erika and Karen both have impressive medical backgrounds. Erika graduated from Sheffield Hallam University, and Karen from Liverpool John Moores University with degrees in Biomedical Sciences. Passionate about improving services for single, gay, lesbian, and infertile couples to achieve parenthood, the couple co-founded Pride Angel, a service that helps connect people with private donors, co-parents, and support relating to fertility, health, and legal advice.
‘We felt it was time to explain to Eva Rose all about how she came to be. We wanted to be sure that she had the answers if any child asked her about her Daddy.’
‘As soon as we found The Magic of You we felt it was just right for us. It was so helpful not to have to think about the best words to use. The book includes wonderfully simple explanations about the process and made it all so simple and clear.’
‘We love that the book is personalised - you tailor it and add photos of the mums or dads, the child and, if you wish, the donor (and surrogate if you used one). These are then made into avatars – so it really is your child’s own book.’
‘In short, our book is absolutely amazing, my daughter can’t get enough of it. She particularly loves the photobook section at the back where you can add photos of all the important people in your story. We included pictures of the three of us, her donor, grandparents and friends.’
‘Children are curious and sometimes cruel. Thanks to her book Eva Rose can explain quite simply that she has two mums that love her and a donor, Daddy Simon Lee. She is such a confident, bubbly little girl and in turn we are confident she won’t be blindsided by questions or comments in the playground.’
‘The Magic of Eva Rose was a really helpful way to start talking to Eva Rose about her donor. We actually found him through Pride Angel and we are fortunate that he’s happy to play an active role in Eva Rose’s life. It’s wonderful that she knows him and is clear on his role in her story.’
‘11 months later and Eva Rose still loves her book. I think it’s something she will treasure forever as it will always trigger happy childhood memories for her.’
Why do we need personalised books?
Times are changing for non-traditional parenthood. The way we see and understand the term ‘family’ is evolving. But there are still obstacles to face.
In 2020, the organisation We Are Donor Conceived published a survey showing that solo and gay mums are more likely than heterosexual parents to inform their children of their donor-based conception. As children start to learn about the birds and the bees, the subject becomes unavoidable for gay parents.
The evidence shows that little ones conceived in assisted ways are more likely to categorize their experience as positive if they find out before the age of three.
While openness around the topic is improving – according to the same study, we now see around 60% of donor-conceived children being told in their infancy or childhood compared to just 14% in the 80s – more needs to be done, and support needs to be provided.
One day, there will be no such thing as a ‘different way’ to create a family. With unique tools for communication, we can hope to see that day sooner and every family’s story can be represented.
If your little one came to be with the help of donor-egg, donor-sperm, IVF or a gestational surrogate, there’s no better way to show them the magic of their existence than The Magic of You. Read more and create your own story here.