Children born through reproductive donation: a longitudinal study of psychological adjustment

J Child Psychol Psychiatry. 2013 Jun;54(6):653-60. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.12015. Epub 2012 Nov 23.


Background: Parenting and children's adjustment were examined in 30 surrogacy families, 31 egg donation families, 35 donor insemination families, and 53 natural conception families.

Methods: Parenting was assessed at age 3 by a standardized interview designed to assess quality of parenting and by questionnaire measures of anxiety, depression, and marital quality. Children's adjustment was assessed at ages 3, 7, and 10 using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ).

Results: Although children born through reproductive donation obtained SDQ scores within the normal range, surrogacy children showed higher levels of adjustment difficulties at age 7 than children conceived by gamete donation. Mothers who had kept their child's origins secret showed elevated levels of distress. However, maternal distress had a more negative impact on children who were aware of their origins.

Conclusions: The absence of a gestational connection to the mother may be more problematic for children than the absence of a genetic link.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Anxiety Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology*
  • Awareness
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Confidentiality
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology*
  • Disclosure
  • Family Conflict / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Insemination, Artificial, Heterologous / psychology*
  • Male
  • Mother-Child Relations
  • Oocyte Donation / psychology*
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
  • Surrogate Mothers / psychology*
  • Tissue Donors / psychology*
  • United Kingdom