International Donor Conception Awareness Day: Founder Jana Rupnow's Story

Today, April 27, is the first annual International Donor Conception Awareness Day, a landmark day celebrating and advocating for donor conception. We are proud to be a founding member of a day that celebrates our company’s mission and advocates for the people on all sides of donor conception.

We sat down with Donor Conception Awareness Day founder and fertility therapist Jana Rupnow to learn more about Donor Conception Awareness Day’s mission and the personal story that inspired this effort.

How did Donor Conception Awareness Day come about?
The issues of fertility, family building and nontraditional family awareness have always been close to my heart. I was adopted, and I experienced the process of working through my family and my genetic links firsthand. My husband and I also struggled with secondary infertility before pursuing adoption for our second child.

I started my private practice, counseling infertile couples pursing adoption and my fertility doctor actually recommended that I branch into counseling for those pursuing third party fertility treatments, and it was an immediate fit.

Though the paths to building a family are different, there are similar issues in families with genetic differences. I understand the loss of genetic information and I saw the same concerns coming up in many families I counseled. So many people have shared experiences when it comes to family building, but there’s still so much confusion and shame around the topic when we don’t do it the “traditional way.”

I wrote my book, Three Makes Baby, in the hopes that I could help support a larger audience experiencing these issues. I’ve seen how powerful it is to speak openly about these issues, and I wanted to do more to raise awareness and connect people – so International Donor Conception Awareness Day was born!

How do you think DCAD will impact families that used donor conception?
I’m hoping the day will help families begin talking about donor conception more openly. They often want to talk about it, but they just don’t know how to bring it up. They wonder when to start having the conversation.

I’m hoping the day will prompt families to bring up their story and learn that they aren’t alone! Having an internationally recognized awareness day legitimizes the issues of donor conception. Lifting the secrecy and shame surrounding donor conception is important to help grow healthy families.

Do you think people today are more open about donor conception than they were years ago? Have you seen a change in perspective over the years?
Yes, I’ve found that people are more open, especially in the last few years. A big part of that change is due to social media. You’re able to create an account and control how much personal information you’re sharing. With the stigma around donor conception, these online communities can provide a private space for people to connect and learn together. Also, connecting and speaking out online allows people to build a community across national boundaries.

Infertility and nontraditional family building people can bring up painful feelings and people are dealing with emotional, social and family challenges that make them feel they need to keep their story a secret. Social media has allowed people to find communities and resources that would otherwise be hard to find.

What change do you hope International Donor Conception Awareness Day will bring?
My ultimate goal for this day is that it will encourage people to come together to start improving the standards for both donor conceived families and donors themselves. Fertility technology is constantly improving and the long-term psychological and emotional support needs to catch up. We’re a fragmented field, but we can do a much better job for everyone involved. We just have to work together. I’m hoping this is the start of a new era of helping families.