'The Kids Are All Right' - Study Shows Children Born through Egg Donation, Sperm Donation, and/or Surrogacy Grow Up Just Fine

A 20-year study finds that children born via egg donation, sperm donation, and/or surrogacy grow up just fine, overturning long-held assumptions that children born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) are psychologically affected and at a disadvantage when it comes to their own well-being and family relationships. The University of Cambridge study suggests that children who are born via ART are not any different than children who are conceived naturally.

In April of this year, Developmental Psychology published a study that followed 65 families with children born from assisted reproduction technology from infancy to age 20. Moms and children were interviewed and compared with 52 families of naturally conceived children. The result of the 20-year study? “The absence of a biological [genetic or gestational] connection between children and their parents does not interfere with the development of positive relationships between them or the psychological well-being of the child,” says Susan Golombok, Professor Emerita of Family Research and former Director of the Centre for Family Research at the University of Cambridge, in a University of Cambridge article.

These findings are consistent with earlier assessments made by researchers at different stages from infancy to ages 7, 10, and 14. However, what is important to note about the final stage in this longitudinal study is that the children have now moved into early adulthood. At age 20, there is more autonomy from parents and greater freedom for young adults to explore their origin stories, identities, and beliefs. Reports show donor-conceived children have an elevated interest in their genetic ties with a curiosity deeply rooted in a basic need to know one’s identity. Although the study originally hypothesized that this elevated interest in their genetic ties would lead to higher levels of adjustment problems among donor-conceived children and relationship difficulties with their mothers, findings suggest that the absence of biological ties does not interfere with psychological adjustments in early adulthood or mother-child relationships.

Dr. Alex Robles, a reproductive endocrinologist at Columbia University Fertility Center in New York City, says that these findings mirror what he has seen in his own practice over time. He tells U.S. News, “These findings are in line with what we previously understood about these relationships and provide reassurance for people who might be hesitant about using third-party assistance to build their families.”

Telling Donor-Conceived Children Early is Key

The study also suggests that telling children about their origin story when they are young has healthier outcomes for both parent and child. While there is no perfect time to tell children the circumstances of their birth, children who are told of their origin story at an early age experience less anxiety, stress, and depression. In fact, U.S. News states that the children in the Cambridge study who were told before the age of seven scored higher on the perception of their mother’s feelings toward them, communication within the family unit, and their own well-being. Just 12.5% of children who were told about their origin story before age seven reported family relationship issues while 50% of young adults who were told after the age of seven reported family relationship issues. The article goes on to say that mothers who told their children by the time they were age seven also had more positive scores on family relations and communications along with lower levels of anxiety and depression themselves.

This study reiterates what we have reported in the past. Being honest and consistent in telling children their origin story is best. The story doesn’t have to be long, but what is important here is that it is told, with some frequency, starting at an early age, and told with simple concepts initially, growing more detailed as the child gets older. Children who are told of their origin stories often and at an early age are more likely to accept the story of their conception as a normal part of their existence and identity.

This also frees the parents of the revelation of the truth later in the child’s life which can create distrust in the family unit. “People don’t like being lied to, so adults or adolescents who find out belatedly that they were the result of donor sperm or donor eggs think their parents have told lies for 15, 20, or 30 years, and so they think, ‘well, I can’t trust you,’” Roger Cooke, an infertility specialist at Swinborne University, told The World News. Telling children at an early age also helps to avoid the possibility that they will find out from someone else, through the internet or DNA testing kits.

“It’s Not a Big Deal,” say Donor-Conceived C hildren

Children born via ART generally accept their origin stories without issue. Oxford Academic published a report from Human Reproduction that interviewed 35 young adults born as a result of assisted reproduction as a part of the seventh phase in the multi-method study. One young adult who was born through gestational surrogacy said, “It doesn’t faze me really, people are born in all different ways and if I was born a little bit differently – that’s OK, I understand.”

While another participant who was born via sperm donation said, “I never really thought about it in a way that, that like, my dad’s my dad, my mum’s my mum, I’ve never really thought about how anything’s different so, it’s hard to put, I really don’t care.”

The study also found that young adults born via egg donation were 73% more likely to report that their origin story made them feel unique, with one participant stating, “I think it was amazing. I think the whole thing is absolutely incredible. Erm . . . I don’t have anything negative to say about it at all.”

Parents being open and honest with their children about their origin stories also brought empathy to some of the donor-conceived children. As young adults, they now have a realization of what their parents went through to have them and how deeply they were wanted. “Maybe in some ways, I’ve become more aware, a bit more sympathetic to like the struggle my parents went through,” said a young adult born via surrogacy.

The multi-method in-depth study brings together 20 years of research from families using ART and not only goes against long-held stigmas but also provides encouragement for future families using egg donors, sperm donors, and surrogates. As Golombok states in Cambridge, “What this research really means is that having children in different or new ways doesn’t actually interfere with how families function. Really wanting children seems to trump everything—that’s what really matters.” In essence, the absence of a genetic link does not hinder positive parent-child relationships or a child’s psychological well-being in adulthood. The bottom line is this: honesty is the best policy, and children who are the product of assisted reproductive technology are not adversely affected by knowing the truth. As it turns out, "the kids are all right."



Richard Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn is founder and principal of International Fertility Law Group, one of the world’s largest and best-known law firms focused exclusively on assisted reproductive technology, or ART, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, sperm donation or egg donation. Rich is co-author of the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” American Bar Association Publishing, 2017.

Peiya Wang
Paralegal (律师助理)

Peiya Wang joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2015, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases and provides translation services for many of IFLG’s international clients. Peiya moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a Master of Science degree in Global Studies and International Affairs in 2014. Peiya moved to Los Angeles in 2015, received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension, and obtained her second Master of Science degree in Legal Studies from Loyola Law School. Peiya relocated back to her hometown, Beijing, China in 2019 and works from IFLG’s Beijing office. When away from the office, Peiya is a dragon boat paddler and a ballroom dancer, where she favors Rumbas and Cha-chas. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.

Luis Sosa

Luis R. Sosa joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2016, where he enjoys pursuing his passion for family and reproductive law. While working toward his bachelor’s degree at Florida International University which he received in 2013, Luis worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for family law litigation firms in Miami and Washington, D.C. As a paralegal and case manager for IFLG, Luis, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, manages surrogacy, egg donation and other reproductive law cases. Luis has worked for IFLG in both Los Angeles as well as San Francisco, and is currently based in Dallas, Texas. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Toni Hughes

After receiving her B.S. in Business Management, Toni joined IFLG to pursue her dream of working in the legal field. As a Paralegal with over 10 years of experience in the assisted reproduction technology field, Toni is our Managing Paralegal, responsible for training and managing our paralegal staff. From drafting legal documents to assisting our clients with post-birth matters, Toni embraces the challenge of learning something new in this field each day. Besides spending time with her son, Jordan, Toni enjoys exploring new things, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and serving as a Youth Advisor for “Next Generation.”


Kim has over 30 years of experience in the legal field and has worked exclusively in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 1999. Kim is a senior case manager responsible for managing parental establishment cases and interacting with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorneys across the country. With three children of her own, Kim understands the importance of family and finds working in this area of law a rewarding experience.

Rich Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn combined his personal passion as a father of twin boys born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with more than 20 years of experience in business and technology law to build International Fertility Law Group. Today IFLG is one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focused exclusively on fertility law, helping thousands of intended parents through empathetic listening, compassionate guidance, and unmatched legal expertise. As an advocate for reproductive freedom, Rich also contributes his knowledge and time to improving the understanding and practice of ART law, most recently as a founder of and speaker at the first Cambridge University International Surrogacy Symposium held in June 2019, as immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, and as a popular presenter to law schools, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo

Elizabeth received her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University of Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, she continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained her Paralegal certificate. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and has been in the legal field since 2009. She is excited to be a part of the IFLG Team helping families realize their dreams.

Sunny Chien

Sunny joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2017, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s international clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from California State University of Los Angeles, where she graduated cum laude. Sunny is bilingual in English and Mandarin and has extensive experience as a legal assistant and paralegal at Los Angeles-area law firms. She is excited to be part of the IFLG team. In her spare time, Sunny enjoys spending time with her family and their dog, going to the beach, cooking, and being outdoors.

Los Angeles

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Los Angeles, CA 90036

Phone:  +1 323 331 9343

Email:  info@iflg.net

Website:  www.iflg.net

New York

501 Fifth Avenue, Suite 1900

New York, NY 10017

Phone:  +1 844 400 2016

Email:  info@iflg.net

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Molly O'Brien

Fertility law attorney Molly O’Brien began working in the field of assisted reproduction technology (ART) in 2005, at an egg donation agency and a surrogacy agency where she became familiar with all aspects of in-vitro fertilization, egg donation and the financial aspects of surrogacy. Since becoming an attorney in 2011, Molly has drafted and negotiated surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation embryo donation agreements for hundreds of her clients all over the world.

Phoebe Sadler

Fertility law attorney Phoebe Sadler has a background in family law and has been practicing exclusively in the area of assisted reproduction technology (ART) law since 2018.

Rubina Aslanyan

Rubina has an extensive background in the legal field as a paralegal in Family Law and has worked in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 2012. Her area of focus is in managing and assisting clients with surrogacy, egg donation, and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s domestic and international clients. During her spare time, Rubina enjoys spending time with her family and dog Bella, traveling and cooking.

Alexander Espinoza
Legal Assistant

Alexander joined IFLG as a legal assistant in 2019, where he manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases. Alex is bilingual in English and Spanish and has been in the legal field for 23 years. Alex is excited to join the IFLG team and pursuing his will to help others in the reproductive law process. In his spare time he loves spending time with his family and friends, being outdoors, road trips, loves music and dancing.

Cara Stecker
Senior Paralegal

After receiving her paralegal certificate in 2005, Cara began working in assisted reproductive law. During the fifteen years Cara has worked in this field, she has gained a wide range of experience and knowledge that she uses to help better assist clients and those involved in the assisted reproductive journey. Cara’s primary roles involve managing parental establishment matters and coordination with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorney network, drafting contracts and parental establishment court documents and providing support to other team members. Cara finds great joy in being a small part of a team of caring people who help others achieve their dream of having a family. In her spare time, Cara enjoys spending time with her husband and three children, watching her children play the sports they love, and she enjoys, running, cycling and exploring the outdoors in the sun.

Stephanie Kimble

Stephanie received her BS in History and Political Thought from Concordia University Irvine in 2015 and her Paralegal Certificate from University of San Diego later that same year. She has been working as a Paralegal since 2016 in Family and Reproductive Law. She is excited to be part of International Fertility Law Group working on managing Surrogacy, Egg donation and Parental Establishment Cases.

Trish Pittman
Assistant Financial Coordinator

With more than 20 years of experience in the field of accounting, Trish joined the IFLG team in 2019 as Assistant Financial Coordinator. Her client-facing focus at IFLG is to assist with all client trust accounting. Trish is the mother of two daughters and enjoys spending time teaching and learning new things from them. In her free time, she loves long walks in the park and reading suspense and mystery novels.

Katie Deaquino
Senior Paralegal

Katie is a Senior Paralegal with IFLG and has dedicated over sixteen years to the areas of surrogacy and reproductive law. She received her Paralegal Certificate from Coastline Community College and has worked with some of the top law firms in the assisted reproduction community. Katie is also a commissioned Notary Public. With IFLG, Katie manages Surrogacy, Egg Donation, and Parental Establishment cases and provides support to other IFLG team members. Katie truly enjoys helping others build their families through assisted reproduction and is thankful she has had the rewarding experience of assisting IFLG clients. Katie often spends her free time with her Husband, four young children and her bulldog “Bella”.

Elsa Jimenez
Legal Assistant

Elsa joined IFLG as a Legal Assistant in 2019, bringing more than 35 years of experience working in the legal profession (concentrating in tort and litigation matters). At IFLG she assists surrogates with their surrogacy and parental matters. The oldest of five siblings, born and raised in East Los Angeles to Mexican immigrant parents, Elsa loves “seeing the beauty of families forming” through assisted reproductive technology. She and her husband Carlos have four children and one grandson. Elsa enjoys jazz and ’80s music, being outdoors in nature, collecting teacups and tea pots, and spending time with her close-knit family.