Neighbors Magazine

6 | Neighbors Magazine • Feb 19, 2015 • Volume 3, Issue 4 Neighbors Magazine • Feb 19, 2015 • Volume 3, Issue 4 | 7 Inc
23975 Highway 149 • Sigourney

X, Y and Me

In today’s world, many children are
conceived through
assisted reproductive
techniques. This raises the
issue of whether to disclose this
information to family, friends, and
most importantly, the child. There is
much controversy as to whether it
is a child’s right to know his or her
genetic heritage. This delicate issue
of disclosure needs to be decided by
parents; especially as science and
medicine continue to delve into the
genetic inheritance of disease.

It can be very difficult for parents to
know how and when to disclose this
information. They may delay telling
their child because they don’t know
how to broach the subject, the time
never seems right, or they may be
afraid of their child’s reaction. Some
literature shows there may be a
real advantage to giving information
regarding conception to a child
at a young age. This prevents the
emotional upset that could occur if
a child accidentally discovers or is
told later in life that he or she was
conceived in an alternative way. It
is especially devastating to find out
as an adult that one or both of your
parents are not genetically related to
you. Adults told later in life often feel
hurt, angry, and betrayed.

Janice Grimes, the author has been a Registered
Nurse for over thirty years after
having obtained her nursing degree
in Baltimore, Maryland. The majority
of her nursing career was spent
in the Emergency Department and
Recovery Room.

In 2000, Janice and her husband,
Todd moved to Webster, Iowa to fulfill
Todd’s life long dream of owning
farmland. They became interested
in our area after a vacation to Iowa
to see a John Deere tractor built
(Todd was an avid collector of John
Deere memorabilia). The countryside
reminded them of Maryland. They
had got in touch with Alan Grimm, a
North English  realtor, who kept in touch after
they returned home to Maryland.

Janice worked for the ER department
in Ottumwa for two years before
moving to the U of I hospital’s in
vitro fertilization unit (IVF) where she
worked for seven years. Not only did
Janice work in IVF, she was in fact an
IVF patient herself.

As her knowledge of IVF grew, Janice
became interested in the moral
and ethical issues of disclosure. The
number of children conceived by alternative
methods is staggering and
continues to increase as women put
pregnancy “on hold” to pursue their
careers and as same sex couples
become more open and wish to have
families. The most current statistics
from the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention show that 40,687
IVF children were born in the United
States as the result of IVF cycles carried
out in 2001.

Her interest was peaked during a
somewhat awkward situation. An
anonymous donor had returned
one day for a repeat donor cycle. A
recipient who had successfully conceived
thanks to this donor’s egg donations
was also there. The recipient
mom had come to show her nurses
her twins. Both women passed each
other in the waiting room. Neither
one knew the other. The nurses held
their breath. They knew that the
biological mother had just walked by
her “children” and the recipient had
just walked by her donor. The nurses
later talked about the anonymity and
secret nature that surrounded the
birth of these babies.

As a result of this encounter, Janice
developed a series of children’s
books as a means to assist parents
wishing to disclose. She researched
the issue of disclosure, specifically
to see if couples were telling their
children about their alternative conception.
Although professionals tell
the parents it is best to disclose, very
few tools are available to help them
with this issue. When she undertook
this project, there were only 5
books in the entire world written for
children (only one in the U.S.).

The “Before You Were Born” books
were created to help as many parents
as possible. Therefore, the illustrations
are the same in every
book and are not related to the
text. A sample is available on Janice’s
website at www.xyandme.
com The pictures show a typical
day in the life of a child interacting
with their parent. It was her intent
to make the “parent” and “child”
bears as gender and ethnically
ambiguous as possible. She also
wrote the books in such a way that
whichever parent is reading the
story is the “bear parent” speaking.

A few of the books are not currently
available in paperback, but can
be downloaded electronically at

Janice can be reached at janice@

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