Excerpt from Resource Section of Knock Yourself Up:
        Academic Studies on Single Motherhood and                                
        Donor-Conceived Children
There have been a few studies that look at middle-class single moms by choice and how their donor-conceived kids fare. Other studies have looked at the donor-conceived children of lesbian couples, which is relevant to single moms by choice, since, while those children do have two parents, they also grow up without a dad. I have listed the studies and summarized their findings, below. There are also three excellent books available written by two psychologists and a sociologist, respectively, who have worked with and studied the families and the children of donor conception.  
Mommies, Daddies, Donors, Surrogates: Answering Tough Questions and Building Strong Families
The Guilford Press
This excellent, readable book covers how you might feel about using a donor, how to talk about donor-insemination with your child and others, and discusses how the children of assisted reproductive technology fare, psychologically. Written by a psychologist who has worked extensively with the children of donor insemination. Highly recommended.
Raising Boys Without Men: How Maverick Moms Are Creating the Next Generation of Exceptional Men
by Peggy Drexler, PhD, with Linden Gross
Written by a (straight, married) Cornell psychology professor based on her extensive study of single and lesbian moms who are raising boys. Well-written, reassuring and empowering.
Single by Chance, Mothers by Choice: How Women are Choosing Parenthood Without Marriage and Creating the New American Family
Oxford University Press
A slightly dense but still readable book written by a Wellesley sociology professor. Interviews with 65 single moms by choice, placed in a sociological and historical context. Useful information, insights and ideas in a more academic package.
Children Raised in Fatherless Families from Infancy: A followup of children of lesbian and single heterosexual mothers at early adolescence
Fiona MacCallum and Susan Golombok
Family and Child Psychology Research Centre, City University, London, UK
published in Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 45:8 (2004) pp. 1407-1419
Salient findings: Children had more interaction with their moms than kids in father-present families, but also more conflict, since mom does all the disciplining. No negative effects on social and emotional development were found due to the absence of a father. Boys in single-mom families had more “feminine” qualities—like being sensitive and caring—but no fewer masculine qualities than boys in families with fathers present. There was no evidence that the moms’ sexual orientation had any influence on the socio-emotional development of the children.
Psychosocial adjustment among children conceived via donor insemination by lesbian and heterosexual mothers
Chan, R.W., Raboy, B. & Patterson, C.J.
University of Virginia
published in Child Development, Vol. 69, pp. 443-457, 1998
Salient findings: In this study of 80 families living in 22 states, both parents and teachers reported that the children are well-adjusted, socially competent and exhibiting no unusual behavior problems. Children’s well-being was found to be more a function of parenting and relationships within the family than whether the households were headed by a single-mother, a heterosexual couple, or a lesbian couple.
The National Lesbian Family Study: 4: Interviews With Ten-Year-Old Children
Nanette Gartrell, M.D., Carla Rodas, M.P.H., Amalia Deck, M.S.N., Heidi Peyser, M.A., Amy Banks, M.D.
published in American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, Vol. 70, No. 4, October 2005
study available on the web at www.nllfs.org
Salient findings: This is part of a longitudinal study (since 1985) of 78 families of lesbian couples and single lesbian moms. All the kids are donor-conceived. Some have known donors and others have anonymous donors. In social and psychological development, the kids were comparable to children raised in heterosexual families, though the girls in the study demonstrated fewer behavioral problems than their peers in heterosexual families. There was no difference in psychological functioning in children with known donors versus those with unknown donors. Although the children with known donors benefited from having a father, according to their mothers, most who had not yet met or would never meet their donor were unconcerned about not having a father. The children who can eventually meet their anonymous donors were nearly evenly divided in regretting that they had to wait until they were 18 and in not caring about the prospective meeting. Seventy percent of children with permanently unknown donors had no regrets about not having a father. According to lead researcher Gartrell, for those kids who did have regrets, they characterized those regrets as mild.
Single Parenthood, achievement, and problem behavior in White, Black and Hispanic children
Henry N. Ricciuti, Ph.D., Dept. of Human Development, College of Human Ecology, Cornell University
published in the Journal of Educational Research, Vol. 97, No. 4, pp. 196-206
Salient findings: This study of almost 1,500 12- and 13-year old children found little or no evidence of systematic negative effects of single parenthood on children’s academic performance or behavior. What mattered most to the kids’ outcomes was the mother’s education and ability level, regardless of her income or ethnicity. Ricciuti stated that his findings suggest that when the mother is educated, has “positive child expectations,” and access to social resources supportive of parenting, single motherhood in itself need not be a risk factor for academic or behavior problems.
Adolescents with open-identity sperm donors: reports from 12-17 year olds
J.E. Scheib, M. Riordan and S. Rubin
The lead researcher, Scheib, is at Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis
published in Human Reproduction, Vol. 20, No. 1, pp. 239-252, 2005
Salient findings: The majority of kids felt comfortable with their donor-insemination origins. Most were curious about the donor and planned to contact him at some point, though not necessarily at age 18. Few described him as being an important person in their lives. Most wanted to know “what’s he like?” in order to know more about themselves. Most kids were interested in contacting and meeting half-siblings.
Choosing identity-release sperm donors: the parents’ perspective 13-18 years later
J.E. Scheib, M. Riordan and S. Rubin
The lead researcher, Scheib, is at Department of Psychology, University of California, Davis
Published in Human Reproduction, Vol. 18, No. 5, pp. 1115-1127, 2003
Salient findings: Almost no parents regretted choosing an open-identity donor. The children were told about their donor-insemination conception from an early age and parents report a neutral to moderately positive impact.
An attempt to reconstruct children’s donor concept: A comparison between children and lesbian parents’ attitudes towards donor anonymity
K. Vanfraussen, I Ponjaert-Kristoffersen and A. Brewaeys
Department of Developmental and Life Span Psychology, dutch speaking free University of Brussels, Belgium
Published in Human Reproduction, Vol. 16, No. 9, pp. 2019-2025, 2001
Salient findings: In general, the children wanted to know more about the donor (though their opinions were mixed), whereas the mothers preferred the donor to remain anonymous.
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Copyright (c) 2007 by Louise Sloan. All rights reserved.