Navigating Donor Conception: Understanding Privacy vs. Secrecy Nov 20, 2023 | by Lucy Solie-Vilker, Program Director

For couples and individuals who are pursuing building their families with the assistance of donor eggs or donor embryos, deciding what to share with others can be a delicate balancing act between privacy and secrecy. On the one hand, details about your child's conception are deeply personal. On the other, keeping donor conception a complete secret can feel shameful and isolating. 

When it comes to sharing this information with others, especially your family and children, it's important to understand the fine line between privacy and secrecy. In this blog post, we’ll explore the implications of each and provide you with some tips for finding a balance that works for you.

Privacy vs. Secrecy

First, let’s take a look at what exactly “privacy” and “secrecy” mean in the context of donor conception.

  • Privacy: 
    • Privacy refers to the right to keep certain aspects of your life or personal information confidential. In the context of donor conception, privacy means having the discretion to choose whom to share this information with and when to share it. Privacy allows individuals or couples to control the narrative surrounding their family and make decisions based on what feels right for them.
  • Secrecy: 
    • Secrecy, on the other hand, implies actively hiding or withholding information. In the context of donor conception, secrecy can have negative connotations. It may involve deliberately keeping vital information from your family or child, which can have unintended consequences in the long run.

So, where is the line between privacy and secrecy when it comes to donor conception?

Privacy Means Setting Boundaries

Privacy means setting boundaries around sharing sensitive personal information. For example, you may choose to only share details about your child's conception with close friends and family. You don't owe the casual acquaintance at the park an explanation about your fertility journey. Keeping some parts of your story private allows you to reveal details at your own pace and comfort level.

Secrecy May Stem From Shame or Fear of Judgment

Secrecy, however, often stems from shame, fear of judgment, or societal stigma. Complete secrecy means hiding the truth from everyone, even your child. This can be isolating for parents and especially confusing for donor-conceived individuals searching for identity.

For parents who are struggling with the emotional or psychological aspects of donor conception, we encourage you to seek the support of an infertility therapist, join a support group, and take advantage of the many resources available online. 

Tips for Finding a Healthy Balance

We know that there isn’t a blanket approach when it comes to sharing about donor conception. Each situation is unique, and additionally, each individual is unique – factors such as your personality, your culture, and your family dynamics all play a role in how you will go about this topic. 

So, how do you strike a balance as a parent? Here are some tips:

1. Be Selective, But Not Secretive

  • Share details about your child's conception only with trusted loved ones who will offer support. Don't feel pressured to reveal anything to disapproving family or friends. Don’t feel obligated to share with acquaintances unless you want to.

2. Be Honest With Your Child, Age-Appropriately

  • Nowadays, it’s widely agreed upon that sharing the truth about donor conception with your child from a young age is the best approach. 

3. Connect With Other Donor Families

  • Support groups provide a safe space to share experiences with other parents who can relate and offer invaluable community and support. 

Privacy vs. Secrecy When Sharing With Your Family 

When deciding how to share information about using donor eggs with your family, consider the following:

  • Privacy: It's entirely your decision to share this information with your family. You have the right to choose whom to share this information with and when to share it. This will depend on your comfort level, your family's dynamics, and your individual situation. 
  • Secrecy: Keeping donor conception a secret from your family can lead to feelings of guilt or isolation. If you decide not to share, ensure that it aligns with your values and that you're not withholding important information from family members who may be affected.

Privacy vs. Secrecy When Sharing With Your Child 

When navigating how to talk to your child about donor conception, consider the following: 

  • Privacy: Age-appropriate openness about donor conception can foster trust and understanding between you and your child. 
  • Secrecy: Hiding the truth from your child may lead to feelings of betrayal if they eventually discover the information on their own. Nowadays, with the widespread availability of commercial genetic testing (such as or 23andme), it’s quite possible that the child will discover the truth in the future.

Studies show that stress, anxiety, and depression levels are lower in families who choose early disclosure. The most important thing is making sure your child knows they are loved no matter what. As we like to say, “You were so deeply loved and desired that a whole team came together to bring you into existence.” 


Essentially, keeping donor conception private means setting boundaries with what information you choose to share and who you choose to share with. Keeping donor conception a secret, however, means not disclosing it to anyone – friends, family, and even your child. Ultimately, the choice of what to share and when to share it should be guided by love, respect, and the best interests of all involved.

Walking this fine line isn't always easy, but with open communication, honesty, and the right support system, you can find a healthy balance that respects both privacy and your child's need to understand their identity.


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