Free event to help couples with fertility problems explore different routes to parenthood – Cambridge News

Couples facing complications having a child can get advice on alternative routes to parenthood at a free event this week.

Bourn Hall Pathways to Parenthood Fayre will help potential parents explore options such as IVF treatment with donated eggs or sperm and adoption.

The event on June 17 aims to help couples through the process of accepting that a future child might not be genetically related to one or both parents.

This includes same-sex couples who know from the outset that help will be needed to start a family.

Jackie Stewart, an independent fertility counsellor at Bourn Hall Clinic, explains that some patients need to allow themselves time to grieve over the fact that they will not be able to have a child that is biologically related to one or both partners.

"For some this is a massive emotional hurdle, whereas others come to terms with it more quickly," she says.

"Some people decide that they want to cherish what they have and move on with their lives. For others, they may consider fertility treatment with donated eggs/sperm/embryo or via surrogacy.

"Another route is adoption or fostering. We are happy to support them with all these options."

Jackie also provides counselling to couples considering IVF through donated eggs or sperm. One of the commons issues covered is a concern any child will not feel like 'theirs' and when the child should be told about their origins.

According to research by the Centre for Family Studies children who are told about their origins before the age of seven have more positive family relationships and higher levels of well-being in their teenage years, compared to children told later in life.

Early knowledge of their origins helps a child to process the information gradually as they mature.

Dr Thomas Mathews, UK medical director for Bourn Hall, believes that honesty is a good thing. He says: The anonymity for sperm and egg donors was lifted in 2005 because it was realised that it is important for children to know their origins.

"Although this did create a drop in donors initially, we have made up for this at Bourn Hall by creating our own sperm bank, encouraging altruistic donation and offering egg and sperm sharing programmes.

"Patients who participate in the sperm or egg sharing programmes understand clearly what it means to struggle with infertility. They have made an informed choice and are mentally prepared if later they are approached by an 18-year-old looking for more information about their beginnings."

For partners adjusting their concept of family from giving birth to having a child also helps to create new opportunities.

One couple, who only wanted to be identified as Ria and Lee, decided to use a donor sperm after unsuccessful surgical sperm retrieval.

Ria says: We went in with our eyes wide open and we had wanted to try to see if we could have a baby that was genetically ours before considering other options. It was very disappointing when they couldnt find any sperm."

However they have no regrets of using donated sperm. As Ria adds: It took us a lot longer to get where we are, with our happy bubbly baby, but once referred to Bourn Hall Clinic the process was surprisingly quick.

"We now couldnt imagine life without Jacob. Lee phones me every day from work to check how his son is doing it was well worth going through all the hoops to get him.

Another mum, who asked to be identified as just Fiona, adopted her son after 11 years of infertility and failed IVF.

She says it made her instantly an insider in a club you have so longed to join for so many long and arduous years during your infertility journey. When you enter it, there is so much joy, so much of the time.

Through adoption, you come to share in the love, frustrations, happiness, laughs, experienced by all mums and dads. While I have never ever forgotten my infertility, I no longer identify myself primarily as an infertile I am definitely a mum first and foremost."

The Pathways to Parenthood Fayre will be held at Bourn Hall Clinic, Bourn, Cambridge, CB23 2TN on June 17 from 10am to 3pm.

For more information visit: http://www.bournhall.co.uk

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Free event to help couples with fertility problems explore different routes to parenthood - Cambridge News

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