Yes, they most certainly should be told. Just as with children who are adopted, the tough questions are: What is the best age to reveal this type of information to them, and in what manner should it be revealed.
I think that it is important to be honest with children. I also think that it is really a concern that is a family matter and a decision that should be left to the parents. There are so many different circumstances and each one is going to be different.
This is a every difficult call to make, however I do agree with post #4's statement warning against making a hard and fast rule about the subject,which is why any decision must include 'the consequences'... Obviously the answers are not simple, for example, what if there are medical implications that require hereditary information. In such cases an individual has the right to know...so that they might be able to prolong their life. On the other side of the argument should a person concieved by artifical insemination or by donar eggs be told that?... would they be better or worse for that???? I guess if it was not a matter of life or death, perhaps it might be psychologically and socially better left unsaid. But again as #4 stated the topic is subject to interpretation, and rightfully so.
At the end of the day, sperm is just sperm and an egg is just an egg--those two thing separate make nothing--and even together they still make nothing...UNLESS that embryo is placed inside a woman to grow.
This question should be decided on a child by child basis. There are some children that know they are adopted and are just fine with it. On the other hand, some of these children are destroyed by knowing that those they thought were parents are actually not.
Parenting starts in the womb--exactly where this child was placed after conception. Yes, genetic issues and factors come into play, but that child is a product of the mother that birthed it. Before that point, it's science, not parenting.
I don't think people should try to create a hard and fast rule about this issue. It depends on the temperment of the child.
I absolutely believe that we need to be as honest with our children as possible for their own piece of mind. To me this quetion is much the same as the one that adoptive parents ask themselves. In adoption cases, the experts suggest that parents tell as much as they know and be honest with the child. Keeping secrets is not good for any relationship, and if/when the truth comes out after the child has been told a fabrication for years, it will hurt more than it ever would have if they knew the truth from the beginning. Also, to lie and cover it up is to show that we believe that there is something wrong with the way that the child was conceived or the way that they came to be "ours." The child will pick up on that and come to share the same opinion about themselves and where they came from.
The book Living Laboratories by Robyn Rowland Interviewed Emma May Valardi who founded the international Soundex Reunion Registry. The Registry was founded in 1974 to match children with the biological parents that they have never met. In the book, Valardi talks about the resentment that many adults feel who were conceived through artificial insemination. “Many of the children of artificial insemination feel used…they feel that half of their recorded heritage is missing. They feel they have a right to recorded genetic information.”
Every human being should have the right to know their parentage history if they so choose. The crucial element here is the timing and maturity of the individual. The parents of a child conceived in this manner need to be extremely sensitive about how their child/young adult may react to the news according to their personality. Honesty is important because when truths are withheld, and an individual finds out through another source , the person can have normal feelings of betrayal, resentment, hurt, and a loss sense of identity. The discussion should include reasons as well as a constant reinforcement of love and acceptance no matter what the parentall history. A follow-up counseling session may help to work through uncomfortable feelings that are normal in this sort of situation.