Non-genetic and non-gestational parenthood: consequences for parent-child relationships and the psychological well-being of mothers, fathers and children at age 3

Hum Reprod. 2006 Jul;21(7):1918-24. doi: 10.1093/humrep/del039. Epub 2006 Mar 3.


Background: Findings are presented of the third phase of a longitudinal study of children conceived by assisted reproduction procedures involving surrogacy and/or donor conception.

Methods: At the time of the child's third birthday, 34 surrogacy families, 41 donor insemination families and 41 oocyte donation families were compared with 67 natural conception families on standardized interview and questionnaire measures of the psychological well-being of the parents, mother-child relationships and the psychological well-being of the child.

Results: The differences found between family types reflected higher levels of warmth and interaction between mothers and their 3-year-old children in assisted reproduction families than in families with a naturally conceived child. A higher proportion of surrogacy parents than donor conception parents had told their children about the nature of their birth.

Conclusions: It appears that the absence of a genetic and/or gestational link between parents and their child does not have a negative impact on parent-child relationships or the psychological well-being of mothers, fathers or children at age 3.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child, Preschool
  • Family Characteristics
  • Fathers / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insemination, Artificial, Heterologous* / psychology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mothers / psychology
  • Oocyte Donation* / psychology
  • Parent-Child Relations*
  • Psychology, Child
  • Surrogate Mothers* / psychology