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24 year old Emma Gronbaek is a shining light for any family going through the process of Donor Conception. Her childhood felt like any other happy childhood with a loving mother, father and younger twin sisters, but with a slight difference that she was conceived with the help of a sperm donor.
While talking openly to donor-conceived children is now becoming more commonplace, her parents were ahead of this curve in the 90s. Explained to Emma ‘she was the most wanted child’ from a very early age, she has now written a book to share her positive experience as a donor-conceived child.
Can you set the scene of what your childhood was like, and how you found out you were donor conceived?
I had what I would call an ordinary childhood in the suburbs with my mum, dad and two younger sisters who are twins.
When I was just a baby my parents made a children’s book. The book was about the story of me being donor conceived. It was a very personal book with drawings and pictures of friends and family. My parents read it to me as a nighttime story as often as I wanted. I was already so familiar with the story, I have no memory of the day my parents told me I was donor conceived.
Historically, it was the norm for parents who used donor sperm or donor eggs not to tell their child until later in life. How do you feel your experience of knowing from an early age contributed to your overall experience?
I believe it has made all the difference. I have never felt like it was a secret or something to be ashamed of. My parents have told me over and over throughout my childhood that I was the most wanted child, and I knew how they had struggled to have me, which made me feel special in a very positive way.
When you were born it was commonplace that donors remained anonymous, which we believe was the case for you. How have you felt about this?
To me anonymity has not been an issue. I have not felt like it was a problem as I already had my family. I have never wished to know my donor or any other children from the same donor. Actually, I had never even thought about half siblings before I started to share my story and people started asking me.
I’m grateful towards my donor and that he chose to become a donor. I wish him the best in life and hope he feels the same way about me. That is more than enough for me.
You’re now a nurse - a vocation one takes to help others. Has your experience as a donor child contributed to wanting to help others?
I grew up with two parents who are doctors, so I guess that is where my interest came from. I do however think that my nurse background is the reason I started sharing my story and experience as I found out that I could benefit others.
You mention that your story, while overwhelmingly positive, has been met with both acceptance and resistance. On what aspects have you felt resistance?
The most resistance I’ve experienced has come from other donor conceived children. Any negativity has always come from individuals who have had a totally different and more negative experience with donor conception.
You are a beacon of positivity for any parent who needs assistance in conception. What advice would you give to parents concerned about self-esteem or anxiety issues in their children?
I think that the most important thing is honesty and openness, so the child never feels that he or she is connected to some sort of shame.
I believe you can’t start early enough talking about their conception but also how loved and very wanted they are. You can say all kinds of stuff about the fertility industry, but it makes sure that the people who end up having children really want them and have longed for them with all their hearts.
Let’s turn to your book Donor Child: A Child Of Love. When did you decide that you wanted to write a book? What was your reason for writing the book? Is it an anecdotal book, or do you give practical advice to your reader?
I wanted to write a book as I experienced a complete lack of information beyond a few posts on donor conception Facebook groups. I wanted to share my positive story, as all I could find seemed to be negative.
The first part of the book is my story, exploring different experiences going from child to adult. The second half of the book is interviews with leading Danish experts on matters regarding infertility and donor conception. Here there is also advice to be found.
Who would you recommend reads your book, and who did you hope it would help?
I think that the book is for everyone, really – for parents, people who want to become parents, and donor conceived children too.
How has the book been received so far?
Extremely positively, I’ve been overwhelmed. I sometimes feel that the things I share in the book are very basic - just me sharing my life experiences. But people have been so very happy with it which is more than I would have hoped!
Where can people buy your book?
The book can be bought on Amazon both as a paperback and ebook here.
If your child was donor-conceived, ‘Magic of You’ is our personalised children’s book that will explain how they came to be - their very own unique story. With custom storylines for every family setting, start creating yours today.