DSR Book:Finding Our Families
The first comprehensive book for children born through donor conception and their families
An estimated more than one million people have been born in the U.S. through donor sperm or eggs, including Wendy Kramer’s son. Realizing the unique concerns of being or parenting a donor-conceived child, Kramer launched what would become the world’s largest database for connecting donor-conceived people, the Donor Sibling Registry (DSR).
Finding Our Families provides additional support for this growing community. With compassion and insight, the authors draw on extensive research to address situations families face throughout a donor-conceived child’s development, including the search for a biological parent or half-sibling, and how to forge a healthy self-image.
3/2015 Huffington Post Book review by Mirah Riben: "Finding Our Families is a treasure trove of compassionate advice designed to help those raising the more than an estimated million people who were conceived using so-called donor* sperm, the tens of thousands whose lives began with eggs of contributors, and thousands who were "adopted" frozen embryos, as well as the donors.
The 258-page book compiled by Wendy Kramer, the mother of a donor-conceived son and Naomi Cahn, family and reproductive law professor, helps blood-related kin navigate relationships unthought-of generations ago. The book offers how-to search assistance and suggests ways for the legal, social, and nurturing family to open their hearts and minds to those who contributed eggs, sperm, or embryos in addition to welcoming siblings who share the same or half genealogy."
Publisher's Weekly 10/13 Review "The book successfully honors its promise to deliver the tools necessary to help donor-conceived children discover and explore their genetic legacies.”
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If you are thinking about having a baby through donor conception, this book is for you. If you are a donor conceived person, this book is for you. If you are a parent raising a child who came to you through the help of an egg or sperm donor, this book is for you. If you are a medical or mental health professional, helping people build their families through donor conception, this book is for you…
With wise, compassionate, practical and innovative advice, Kramer and Cahn guide readers through the ever unfolding world of donor conception. They take on the challenges of identifying language to describe new definitions of family and address the complexities—and rewards—that come when people search for donors and other genetic connections. Finding Our Families is that rare book that you will read and return to again and again over time, appreciating and understanding it in different ways as you explore and discover new forms of kinship. -Ellen Glazer LICSW, Co-Author, "Having Your Baby Through Egg Donation"
This gem of a book is based on the unique experience of the founder of the Donor Sibling Registry, Wendy Kramer, who has heard from members of thousands of families who owe their existence to donated sperm and/or eggs. Kramer and Cahn have written a heartfelt, practical, easy-to-read, and step-by-step book that is indispensable for all members of such families. With the aid of numerous first-person accounts, the book describes what, when and how to tell your child about his or her genetic origin, how to accept and process the usual desire of offspring to learn about their roots, how to proceed with the search for biological relatives, how to reach out to the donors, and what happens afterwards. Finding our Families includes empathetic and useful sections about meeting the donors, connecting with half-siblings and their families, recognizing the potential outcomes, and handing rejection of efforts to connect. A chapter written specifically for offspring is very useful. This book is must reading for all members of the family.- Jennifer P. Schneider, M.D., Ph.D.
Your book is an invaluable resource for everyone involved in the field of third-party reproductive medicine. It is informative for professionals and families alike, and condenses complex processes into manageable bites that are understandable and helpful. It is beautifully written, cohesive in its organization, and captivating in its personal and sensitive style. I could not put it down, and can't wait to order multiple copies for current and former clients who are considering or have conceived through sperm or egg donation. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to read this. It's like a concluding paragraph to my passionate efforts to illuminate important, long term emotional issues hidden within the practice of anonymity and secrecy.
-Patricia P. Mahlstedt, Psychologist, Private Practice, Houston, Texas
Finding Our Families is a must read for anyone in any part of a process related to donor insemination. Whether you've just opened the door to an idea about using donor sperm or your donor children are grown, this is a book for you. Comprehensive, thoughtful and full hearted, this book addresses the myriad of issues that can arise in donor families.
It is an inclusive, sensitive map to guide anyone touched by the joys and complexities of donor insemination. The authors pull from the amazing anecdotal work Kramer has done, as well as research she's spearheaded in this arena. Three cheers for this groundbreaking work and may it reach a professional audience, as well as the families they write about. -Susan Frankel, MFT
Finding Our Families isn’t just a good and important book – it’s a necessary one. -Adam Pertman, President of the Adoption Instititute, Author, "Adoption Nation"
This ground-breaking book affirms what donor-conceived people have been telling us (in media interviews, at seminars and support groups, on blogs and internet forums, etc): they want, need and deserve to be told the truth about their genetic origins and the right to decide for themselves whether to seek contact with their donor and/or half-siblings. And thanks to Wendy Kramer's hard work, dedication and innovation in creating the Donor Sibling Registry, many donor-conceived people are now able to "find the other 50% of
Finding Our Families gently stretches us to consider the experiences of all those involved in helping make our families. As a psychotherapist, a lesbian, and the mother of a donor-conceived child, I finished this book as a more compassionate and forgiving person. There is nothing more powerful than the truth. –Liz Margolies, Founder and Executive Director of the National LGBT Cancer Network
You've written a wonderful and much needed book for donor conceived kids and their families! I am impressed with the depth of your insights and I really like the way you have cited the latest research in the field.
Finding Our Families is a stunningly honest and sensitive introduction to the challenges, complexities and joys faced by donor-conceived persons and their family members as they explore new forms of kinship. Inspired by the personal experience of Wendy Kramer, founder of the Donor Sibling Registry, in raising her donor-conceived son, Ryan, this fascinating book will expand readers’ appreciation of the complexities and responsibilities of childrearing. It will make clear why Kramer and her co-author, family law expert, Naomi Cahn believe honesty, including about donor conception, is at the heart of “the sacred responsibility of parenthood.”
Without privileging biological connections over social relations, this book draws on the experiences of thousands of donor-conceived offspring and their family members to illustrate that there is much to be gained by all participants from acknowledging the unique genetic history of these offspring. Lifting the veil of secrecy not only can provide more complete medical information and enlarge extended family networks, but as the authors compellingly demonstrate, it can strengthen both the roots and the wings that the best parents are able to provide for their children. Even for those without a close connection to donor conception this book provides a fascinating exploration of how developments in human reproduction are redefining family.- Diane Beeson, PhD, Professor Emerita (Sociology), California State University, East Bay
Finding Our Families is a guide in how to deal with the practical, ethical, and social questions brought about by the changing landscape of donor reproduction. The star of Finding Our Families is the Donor Sibling Registry (DSR) founded by Wendy Kramer and her son, Ryan, in 2000 to assist donor-conceived children find their half-siblings and perhaps also their donors. The DSR, along with the development of internet search engines and sophisticated genetic testing, have changed the rules of the "anonymity game" in gamete donation. The DSR has facilitated thousands of matches with the resulting "donor families" connecting with one another and forging new relationships that we currently don't have labels for. Finding Our Families offers guidance in this uncharted territory to people thinking of using a donor, parents who have a donor child, donor-conceived people searching for half-sibs or donor parents, and the donors themselves. Useful information for those personally touched by donor reproduction and for those interested in learning more about a field where science outpaces the current social, ethical, and legal constructs. -
Karen Gottlieb, PhD, JD, Privacy Advocate
Clearly written and well-organized, this is an indispensable guide for all those who are part of families formed with donated eggs or sperm. -Rene Almeling, Assistant professor of sociology at Yale University and the author of "Sex Cells: The Medical Market for Eggs and Sperm"
The one thing we as human beings deserve more than anything else is our own, personal truth. Wendy Kramer and Naomi Cahn have long fought for this right, even before it was fashionable to do so. These well-respected advocates for the donor-conceived and their families bring outspoken tenacity and audacious courage to the pages of this significant book.- Corey Whelan, patient advocate and author, The American Fertility Association
The definition of ‘family’ is rapidly changing and Wendy and Naomi's book provides a clear and helpful guide through this uncharted territory. Their advice on communicating with children, by far the most challenging and important aspect of this journey, is compassionate and wise. Thank goodness for this wonderful and much-needed book! –Jane Mattes, LCSW, Founder and Director, Single Mothers by Choice.
An invaluable resource for anyone searching for their donor or donor siblings through the Donor Sibling Registry. -Susan Golombok, Ph.D., University of Cambridge
Wise, honest, informed and reassuring--and written by two deeply respected experts--Finding Our Families is the definitive guide for any parent or child who is part of a family formed with the help of donor conception. The insights are so profound and the guidance so clear-eyed that I would go further and say that the book is a definitive guide for anybody who has a family. An essential parenting book. - Liza Mundy, Fellow, New America Foundation, Author, "Everything Conceivable: How the Science of Assisted Reproduction is Changing our World"
In a world that has allowed for the global, largely unregulated use of donor eggs and sperm (predominately through anonymous arrangements), Kramer and Cahn's book, "Finding Our Families: A First-of-Its-Kind Book for Donor-Conceived People and Their Families," is their timely contribution to help the various stakeholders navigate through the many, many issues surrounding donor conception. Their positions and views come from their years of both personal and professional experience, and are clearly explained in the book. They advocate for open donation and for telling children their conception stories early and often. They also offer practical steps on how to search for your biological parent, and what to do when you find him or her, your extended family, and any half-siblings. It's a highly practical book, complete with stories and a step-by-step approach to “finding our families.
There is even a chapter on regulation where they offer their views on what should be done to reform the practice of egg and sperm donation. While it is a helpful book with lots to offer the many stakeholders -- people born via donor-conception, people who have used donated gametes or are considering using this method of family building, professionals who work with the many individuals involved with third-party reproduction -- I was left wanting and longing to hear much more on the ethics of third-party reproduction. Should we be doing this at all? Is it ethical, right, and just to create children intentionally separated from their biological parents, and natural extended families? Do biological connections matter at all? Is kinship important to the human race?
Answering these questions, in my mind, seems the best and first place to start. Otherwise, we are left simply to navigate difficult situations that may arise within our families, that we unintentionally or intentionally caused, that place an enormous burden on the children created by these means. - Jennifer Lahl President,
The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network
My experience of Americans is that they can be gushingly naive and sentimental (see some of the self-published books for children conceived by egg donation) or refreshingly wise and direct. I am delighted to say that the new book from the Donor Sibling Registry ’Finding Our Families’ (of which I am privileged to have an advance copy) is definitely in the latter camp. This book, to be published at the beginning of December, is aimed at all members of the donor conception triangle with a slight bias towards parents as gatekeepers of much of the information to which their children are entitled. Whilst it will be of enormous value to all family types, the very many helpful examples and quotes reflect the DSR membership of 50 per cent solo mums, 33 per cent LGBT families and 17 per cent heterosexual couples. - Olivia Montuschi, Co-Founder, Donor Conception Network Read the full review!
September 2013, Two articles by William Heisel: Investigating Untold Health Stories, New Family Trees: Lessons from the Donor Sibling Registry's First Decade
January 2014: Concurring Opinions, Nancy Levit
March 2014: Center for Genetics and Society Review: Finding Our Families: A First-of-Its-Kind Book for Donor-Conceived People and Their Families
BOOK REVIEW: Kramer & Cahn’s Finding Our Families: A First-of-Its-Kind Book for Donor-Conceived People and Their Families - See more at: http://www.concurringopinions.com/archives/2014/01/book-review-kramer-ca...
BOOK REVIEW: Kramer & Cahn’s Finding Our Families: A First-of-Its-Kind Book for Donor-Conceived People and Their Families
posted by Nancy Levit
Finding Our Families: A First-of-Its-Kind Book for Donor-Conceived People and Their Families. By Wendy Kramer & Naomi Cahn (published by Penguin Random House 2013)
Wendy Kramer, the founder of the Donor Sibling Registry, and Naomi Cahn, the Harold H. Greene Professor of Law at George Washington University, have written a tremendous book, Finding Our Families. While the book is intended for donor-conceived people and their families, the research methods and advice suggested make it an important book for adoptive families as well.
Finding Our Families is a comprehensive guide. It begins with a discussion of whether to tell a donor-conceived child about his or her origins and very sensitively approaches some of the concerns parents have, as well as the impact of withholding information from the child. In a chapter on “How, When, and What to Tell Your Child,” the authors weave in stories of disclosure from a number of parents and help address questions their offspring want to have answered. The next several chapters unpack the feelings both children and their parents might have, as well as the family dynamics that may be affected by the telling.
Later chapters address the decision whether to search for egg- and sperm-donors, when to search, and how to manage expectations. A wide-ranging chapter addresses multiple different ways to search for donors, and even includes possible sample language to use in seeking information and in making contact. Finding Our Families offers sensible approaches of ways to contact “unsuspecting” donors. Finally, the book addresses “bumps in the road” in contacting donors as well as longer term suggestions for keeping connected and how to handle cessation of contact.
Kramer and Cahn have written much more than a “whether to” or even a “how to” book. It is packed with empirical information that rests on studies of donors and their behavior (such as that “sperm donor research reveals that 85 percent of their wives are open to communicating with their offspring”).
Finding Our Families is more than a book for donor-conceived individuals and their families; it is an extraordinary resource for finding and building relationships with larger family networks of many kinds.
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Nancy Levit is the Curator’s and Edward D. Ellison Professor of Law, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law.
DSR BOOK Voices of Donor Conception Behind Closed Doors: Moving Beyond Secrecy and Shame, includes first-person essays designed to take some of the stigma out of donor conception and enable more open conversation for families affected by donor insemination. Contact Wendy if you are interested in a copy of this book. "Lucid voices speak with intelligence and passion about their own experiences with donor conception. An important resource for those contemplating donor conception as well as those concerned with its broader potential and implications."- Deborah Spar author, "The Baby Business".
THE INFERTILITY NETWORK in Toronto has a huge inventory of books for adults & children (re: infertility, donor conception, adoption), books & videos for talking to children about donor conception, seminars & documentaries (on DVD, CD, tape) and more! www.infertilitynetwork.org
HOW TO TELL PROJECT Booklets Written by a parent of donor-conceived adults and based on children’s developmental stages, the booklets provide parents with a source of emotional support and practical guidance in finding the right time and the right language to ‘tell’ and continue conversations with their children over the years.
The four booklets are available to download from this web site for a fee: