Book Review: Three Makes A Baby: How to Parent Your Donor-Conceived Child

Book Review
Book Review: Three Makes A Baby: How to Parent Your Donor-Conceived Child

BOOK REVIEW: Three Makes A Baby: How to Parent Your Donor-Conceived Child, by Jana M. Rupnow

Reviewed by: Jean Benward, M.S., L.C.S.W.

The author created this book to address the concerns parents might have before forming a family using donor gametes.  She has designed the book as part self-help, part education, part emotional guidance. The author presents structured exercises, questions and practical suggestions that highlight the diverse fears and feelings intended parents experience. The author is supportive and reassuring often using her own experience as an adoptee and adoptive parent. Although clearly aware of the sizable knowledge base in the field of infertility counseling, the author draws largely from her own personal experiences.  While I found her personal anecdotes engaging, I am not sure that all readers will find them helpful. This book would have been stronger if she had included more personal anecdotes from parents who had used donor gametes to form their family.     The book is best for parents who want to know more about whether, when and how to discuss donor conception with their children. She provides excellent suggestions for phrases to use for disclosing conversations when children are different ages.

The book was written to share the author’s personal journey and experiences. I found the organization and content uneven. Although the title is “how to parent your donor conceived child” the book does not stay focused on this, but detours, for example, to discussion of selection and psychological screening of donors.   Or she devotes two pages describing the agency Snowflakes and its use of an adoption model for embryo donation.  Many times the author offers what I would describe as therapist bromides, comments that sound nice and are intended to make people feel better, but are not very original or effective. For example, she recommends: “a shift toward a loving acceptance of difference”. 

While the book will be of value to some parents, overall, I think there are more comprehensive books available.    


Rupnow JM. Three Makes a Baby:  How to Parent Your Donor-Conceived Child. Rupnow and Associates Publishing, 2018.


Go to the profile of Eve Wiley
almost 3 years ago

I find this review very out of touch. I have read this book and found the author’s concepts informative, and the information about processes are detailed and definitely not something the fertility industry discloses in detail. The author advocates for transparency and is a donor conceived advocate- unlike most in this industry. She also appears to have followed the ASRM guidelines throughout the book. I can understand the problem (a little) with comparisons to adoption because adoption is making the best out of a raw deal where donor conception is intentionally creating that raw deal. However, there is a common message like “genetic matter matters” that is consistent with what most donor conceived persons believe and what adoption networks have been preaching for years. Until the fertility industry puts the donor conceived offspring first, instead of the existential transaction, the narrative won’t change much. Which leaves me wondering if the fertility industry, and its professional organizations, feel threatened by a book that advocates for the donor conceived and  strongly suggests therapy during the processes- all that could potentially decrease their revenue?