Do Children Born from IVF Feel Stigmatized as Adults?
The start of this decade began with a spate of celebrity baby news. What's different about these reveals is the ages of the mothers-to-be. Michelle Williams was 40 when she gave birth to her second child. Cameron Diaz announced the birth of her daughter, at 47, and Chloe Sevigny revealed that she's expecting her first baby, aged 45.
Statistically, one in twenty babies are currently born using assisted reproductive technologies. These methods can range from taking fertility pills like Clomid to stimulate the release of eggs and production of sperm, to the emotionally wrought rollercoaster of IVF and even as far as accepting the gift of donor conception or surrogacy.
Whatever the reason, infertility, same sex couples, single parents by choice, more and more children are being born through the marriage of love and science. And with this increase comes the ever present need for education and mainstream comprehension of the realities of what these families faced on their quest to expand.
How Does the World Look at IVF Babies?
Children born through IVF are a scientific gift to their parents - not possible in bygone eras. Anyone who has undergone IVF to have a child is not only brave but highly motivated. These new advances in science have allowed many couples to realize their desire to become parents, and approximately eight million humans have come into this world via IVF.
More than 40 years have passed since the first, and highly controversial, IVF baby was born yet there are still many taboos and stigmas attached to this procedure. From hushed conversations steeped with judgment about couples who have failed to fall pregnant naturally to the schoolyard taunts of 'test tube babies', infertility has yet to become a normalised conversation, despite the frequency with which it is experienced.
The birth rates, weights, milestones and health of IVF babies are highly scrutinized. Donor conception is often hidden from the donor conceived. The emotional and physical struggles of trying to have a baby and failing, often time and time again, are rarely recognised by employers or the government. While systems are in place to encourage us to reproduce, like baby bonuses and designer strollers, these systems fail to support us when our bodies don't do what we've always been told they should.
As the rates of IVF and donor conception increase due to factors like educated women pursuing their careers and a society that embraces the LGBTQ community, there is a rising demand for a new narrative to answer the age old question that parents always dread: "Where do babies come from?".
How Should The World Embrace IVF Babies?
There is a clear need to better educate the next generation about science and reproduction in ways that feel natural and engaging. 'Our Village' is a high quality book accompanied by lush, colorful drawings that will look great on bedroom shelves. Ann Reddy initially wrote "Our Village' to weave the truth of her daughter's and other donor-conceived children's conception into the fabric of their daily lives from an early age.
Ann soon realized how powerful it would have been if she had a book like this on her shelf when she was growing up. She wouldn't have been as surprised and ashamed as she was when she became an adult and began dealing with her own infertility challenges.
'Our Village' has become a beacon of light for children and parents, helping break painful taboos surrounding infertility that have lingered for far too long. It's important to give all children the tools of acceptance and understanding for the many ways their friends may have been conceived. Given the tangible rates of infertility and assisted reproductive technologies, many children will face this experience as adults, either for themselves or whilst supporting loved ones. This is not something any parent imagines for their children, but it is something we can help them prepare for.
Ann Reddy's book is published by Dream Big Brave One, an up-and-coming business dedicated to cultivating brave minds and big aspirations. Her book is currently available for purchase at www.annreddy.com and will be available shortly on Amazon in the United States, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and the European Union.
We have an opportunity to embrace this new paradigm of life creation. Whether children are donor conceived, IVF or made the old fashioned way, we have a chance to create a more open and understanding world for them. Books like 'Our Village' help parents open up these important conversations and offer realistic representation to help answer the age-old question of where babies come from.