Solo Parent TALK AND ACTION GROUP
28th July, 2023 (ONLINE) 20.00PM
This event will be recorded.
Aimed at solo parents by choice (SPBC) through egg/sperm/embryo donation, this community-based café offers attendees the opportunity to discuss current research and developments within the donor conception world and talk about how they are trying to effect positive change. This is a safe space for reflection on the solo conception pathway.
This session we have a guest speaker. Dr Leah Gilman is a Wellcome Trust Research Fellow in the Department of Sociological Studies at The University of Sheffield. Her research explores experiences of assisted conception and how these are shaped by the social, legal and technological contexts in which they take place. Her research is published in multiple academic journals and she is co-author of the book Donors: Curious Connections in Donor Conception (published with Emerald in 2022).
In this meeting, Leah will share findings from the ConnecteDNA research study which explores the implications of commercial DNA testing for those impacted by donor conception. Leah will focus on the stories of parents through donor conception who are navigating the possibilities raised by these technologies and show how the challenges and dilemmas which they encounter are shaped by wider socio-cultural understandings of childhood, family and contemporary parenting. Please see longer summary below.
This event builds on the previous event Effecting Change: Café for Solo Parents by Choice which went live on 16th November 2022 and previous STAG events. You do NOT need to have attended Effecting Change to attend this new event.
This event has been made possible thanks to funding by Birkbeck College's Strategic Support Fund and is in collaboration with UCL.
DR Leah Gilman
What does the Rise of Commercial DNA Testing Mean for Parents through Donor Conception?
Leah Gilman, University of Sheffield
The cultural context to UK donor conception has shifted dramatically over recent decades. Whilst in the 1980s, secrecy and absolute donor anonymity were the norm (presumed necessary for families formed in this way to thrive), since the 1990s, policies and cultures have gradually changed such that openness is now encouraged in many Euro-American contexts. In the UK, it is now widely understood that it is beneficial for donor conceived people to grow up ‘always knowing’ they are donor conceived and that they have a ‘right to know’ the identity of their donor. These have become established norms, embedded in clinical and wider public discussions around donor conception.
However, many questions remain about how parents should put the rhetoric of openness into practice. In particular, the rapid expansion of commercial DNA testing services, alongside the proliferation of online data sharing, raises new questions for parents through donor conception. Should they seek connections with their child(ren)’s donor relatives outside of ‘official’ systems? What is the ‘right’ age or time for connections with donor relatives? How should they manage the sharing of their children’s data in relation to donor conception?
Historically, parents through donor conception have had limited control over such issues with the laws and policies in the jurisdiction and/or clinic where they conceived largely determining possibilities. Digital media and DNA testing create new opportunities to circumvent official systems, but they also create new responsibilities and decisions for parents – including many which have no established or easy answer.
In this talk, I will share findings from the ConnecteDNA research study which explores the implications of commercial DNA testing for those impacted by donor conception. I focus on the stories of parents through donor conception who are navigating the possibilities raised by these technologies and show how the challenges and dilemmas which they encounter are shaped by wider socio-cultural understandings of childhood, family and contemporary parenting.