After figuring out that Dr. Thera Pissed was talking out of her asshat, I decided to do a little investigation on my own to determine the pros and cons about disclosure to DE children. To be honest, there is not a lot of academic research out there and I have not had a chance to really evaluate it.
However, I did find an interesting article on "resemblance talk" and DE families. Resemblance talk the normal chit-chat from people when they see a new baby with his/her family ("She has your nose! He has your eyes!"). This, obviously, can be quite stressful for parents of DE babies, but for the mothers in particular.
I realized that after reading this article that I had always assumed we (or at least I) would always let the child(ren) "pass" should strangers say to me "Oh! She/he looks just like you!" My thoughts have been that if someone notes that we share the same chin, well, honestly, I believe there are only a finite amount of chins in this world and why as a matter of fact, we DO share the same chin. But there will also be talk about "Oh! His/her personality is just like yours!" and that is much more murky.
So after reading the previous article, what has come first to my mind is what comes from the donor, what is shared between the real mother (me) and DE child and what is really important. First, physical characteristics are most definitely inherited. Height, eye color, hair and bones are inherited. However, we know from current cloning studies is that clones don't look alike. That is, identical twins gestating in different mothers are born looking differently. One thought is that the gestating mother influences what genes are turned on or off during the pregnancy thus having some influence on the child's appearance.
But physical inheritance is one thing. It is important and we know about tons of research that shows that how people look affects how they develop (particularly for attractive people). But what about "personality?"
Well, to be honest, personality does have some genetic roots, but it's much less than people think. The same is true with intelligence. For example, psychologists think that the most inherited personality characteristic is extroversion and that, at most, 50% of extroversion from the genes. What kills me is that people get soooooo excited that extroversion can be explained by 50% of the genes. Great! Yippee!! Guess what?! The exact same amount, 50%, comes from the environment! That's the MOST inherited personality trait and its 50:50 nature vs. nurture!!
Even more so, in our case, of the 50% inherited, 50% of that is from dad's genes and 50% are from the donor's genes (which I will influence having inside of me).
So, back to the original issue here, Dad will account for (at most) 75% of the child's personality trait of extroversion and I will account for at least 50% of the personality traits. I say "at most" and "at least" because psychologists believe that mom's have more influence on the home environment than dad's do. I also want to point out that the 50% estimate is the minimum amount of influence that mom has on the DE child's personality because most personality characteristics are caused more by the environment and less by genetics than extroversion. For example, it is believed that intelligence is 30% inherited. You can do the math yourself, but to me, it says that the donor's genes has a less than a 15% role in the "intelligence" of a DE child. (There's even new research on adopted kids that shows a very strong relationship between adopted parents' intelligence and their children's intelligence. That really challenges the genetic links of intelligence.)
So I really don't believe it's "passing" when someone is going to tell me "Oh! Your child acts just like you!" It's more than likely the absolute truth! I don't think our child(ren) will inherit my hair nor my feet (THANK GOD!), but I do think they will inherit the core me, the inside me, my way of being and thinking. Oh, and I guess DE Daddy, too. I guess he does play some role in all this... :-)
And I don't think that's rationalization. I think it's the truth based on what we know about know about personality. And I think that's just fine.