Psychologists are unanimous in their belief that the earlier you discuss donor conception, the better it is for your child.
So the conversation about your shared donor usually starts pretty early.
How about the siblings born of donors? People with whom they share not only a biological link, but also the knowledge that they came into the world in a similar way?
Children’s books about donor siblings are helpful for giving your children the foundations they need to understand their biological heritage, one shared with other children, who could even be spread out across the globe.
It’s great to see more and more authors publishing children’s books about donor conception, diverse family forms, and the siblings of donor-conceived children.
The conversation is also not without controversy.
Some parents believe their children should decide for themselves if they wish to meet the other children conceived using the same donor.
I was on the fence about this, until I realised there are groups on Facebook and across the web designed to connect siblings conceived from the same donor.
I also watched a fascinating programme in which one child’s parents had decided not to introduce their child to the donor siblings.
They finally met at 18, and felt resentment for having missed 18 years of birthdays, holidays, socialising—bonding.
The parents of donor siblings often believe it’s up to the child to choose, however, they don’t realise that, in making the decision not to introduce, they actually are making the decision on their child’s behalf.
Whatever you decide to do, here are 5 of my favourite books in which the characters have shared sibling heritage.
1. I’ve Got Dibs!: A Donor Sibling Story Written by Amy Dorfman, Illustrated by Darren Goldman
I’ve Got Dibs! is a sweet story where we meet a mother and daughter discussing the little girl’s donor siblings for the first time. Written by SMC Amy Dorfman who started her family with the help of a donor.
The conversation in her beautiful book focuses on the special connection that exists between a donor-conceived child and the other children conceived using the same donor.
The book is a brilliant tool for initiating this discussion with your own kids, and even with the adults in your life who might be struggling to understand these unique relationships.
I’ve Got Dibs! won’t just empower your child to know the facts about their donor siblings, it will also help them appreciate the specialness of their donor family.
2. The Other Half of Me by Emily Franklin
Jenny has always felt like an outsider in her sports-obsessed family.
The only time she ever feels truly at home is when she’s painting— even then she can just sense something’s missing.
Unlike her three siblings, Jenny knows her biological heritage on one side only as Donor #142.
As her 16th birthday draws ever closer and she has the chance to search for a genetic relative in the Donor Sibling Registry, Jenny discovers Alexa, her half-sister.
Jenny is overjoyed at first.
However, will Alexa’s arrival on the doorstep fulfil Jenny’s sense of belonging, or instead change her world in totally unforeseen ways?
3. Proud of Me by Sarah Hagger-Holt
Becky and Josh are ‘almost-twins’: they have two mums and the same anonymous donor dad.
Josh can’t wait until he’s 18 so he can legally contact his donor, and he’ll do anything to find out more about him.
This is understandable, and is one of the many struggles that single mothers by choice (SMCs) go through.
Together, the twins set out on a journey to explore what it means to have been conceived by a donor.
Aimed at a slightly older audience of 9 to 13 year olds, this story is perfect for any family with tweenage children ready to learn more about half-siblings and donor contact.
4. You Were Made for Me Written by Sheri Sturniolo and Illustrated by Hannah Pak
Growing a family isn’t always easy, and in this book, it is a mummy and daddy that need a little help.
Meet one couple experiencing the hopes, dreams, and disappointments of creating a family, and how the love and generosity of others is the most remarkable gift.
You Were Made for Me dives deep into the journeys people undertake to make families, drawing equally on moving symbolism and sweet rhymes to introduce this inherently complicated topic to children.
By giving its young readers ‘the pieces of the puzzle’, the book sparks their imaginations and stimulates questions.
Sheri Sturniolo is a registered nurse and the mother of two donor conceived children.
5) Zak’s Safari: A Story About Donor-Conceived Kids of Two-Mom Families Written by Christy Tyner and Illustrated by Ciaee Ching
In this story we meet an inquisitive little boy and his family, and learn how they all came to be part of one another’s lives.
Zak’s Safari neatly weaves concepts such as sperm banks, known donors, and the passing of information between genes, interspersing these talking points with warm and inviting illustrations depicting the story of a lovely two-mum family.
Written from the heart, Christy Tyner lives in San Francisco with her partner and two donor conceived children.
You might also be interested in, 5 Gentle Books for Children Conceived via Sperm or Egg Donation.