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Book Review: Mixed Blessings - Building a Family with and without Donor Help

6 June 2012
Appeared in BioNews 659

Mixed Blessings: Building a Family with and without Donor Help

By Olivia Montuschi

Published by the Donor Conception Network

Buy a downloadable version from the Donor Conception Network website

'Mixed Blessings: Building a Family with and without Donor Help' by Olivia Montuschi

This 26 page booklet is intended to support couples or individuals at any stage of creating a family that will include children conceived both with and without the help of a donor.

It contains advice and case studies, as well as signposting further resources in a friendly and accessible way. It will be useful to those who are starting to build a family with and without a donor; those who have already done so; and of course to those who work with them - particularly fertility counsellors. For those members of the Daisy Network Premature Menopause Support Group who experience secondary infertility this book will be a must-read.

Conceiving a second child in a different way to the first can, according to the booklet, 'bring anxieties and fears of the unknown and an exaggerated variant of the worry of many second time mums and dads – can I love this child as much as my first? Do I have enough love to go round?'

There are sections on managing 'difference', on life with children of all ages in a mixed origins family, and on telling older children in the family how the younger one was conceived.

I think the reader will find the wide range of case studies the most useful - they put anxieties into perspective and help the reader realise that they are not the first, and probably won't be the last, to have these feelings. The way they are creating their family may be different, but the fears they may experience are normal.

Difference is a recurring theme in the booklet, and throughout reading it I kept thinking of the phrase 'same difference'.

Montuschi sums that up well when she says: 'All families go through periods of discomfort, pain or difficulty as well as shared joy and happiness. It is part of normal human development and growth. Families created both with and without donor help are no different'.

And to finish with another quotation: 'They are all my children. I love them but they are all different'.

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