I have archived the posts on this blog in date order so you can see what happened from the beginning to the end. I am not continuing to post to this blog since the donation has reached its conclusion. I do check the email, however, and post comments, so feel free to let everyone know what's on your mind. You can get my email address in the "Profile" to the right. There is an email link on the left side of the "Profile". If you put your cursor over it my email address will appear on the left bottom side of your screen.
I do not post any sort of commercial spam or links to commercial sites, so please don't send any. Thanks and good luck with your own journey.
Here is an article on egg/sperm donation from the New York Times. I have edited it because it is extremely long. The main point of the article for me is the studies about revealing to a child if s/he was conceived with donor gametes. It's healthier for kids, and we now know this to be true based on science.
Another point in this article, this time one I disagree with, is about the difference between the way sperm donors and egg donors are treated. The author of that study, and this article, argue that egg donors are treated better and more valued.
Having gone thru egg retrieval twice myself, and once when my wife gave eggs to our friends, I can tell you that what ever egg donors are paid it isn't enough. Painful shots, daily schleps to the doctor for blood tests, potentially fatal surgery and medications? I wouldn't do it again for less than twice my annual salary. When I can donate an egg by having an orgasm (like sperm donors), sign me up.
Here's the article with the redundant stuff removed:
"By PEGGY ORENSTEIN
Published: July 15, 2007
In 1992...there were just 1,802 attempts by women to become pregnant using someone else’s eggs, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Three years later, there were more than 4,738 such cycles; by 2004, the most recent year for which data has been published, there were 15,175 cycles, resulting in 5,449 babies. By comparison, some 22,911 children were adopted from abroad that year, and although there are no official figures, one survey estimated that at least the same number are conceived annually via donor insemination. Donor eggs are now used in 12 percent of all in vitro fertilization (I.V.F.) attempts, making it among the fastest-growing infertility treatments. Despite the portentous hype around women like Frieda Birnbaum, a 60-year-old New Jersey resident who in May used donor eggs to become the oldest American to give birth to twins, the bulk of intended mothers are in their 40s. The birthrate among women ages 40-44 has risen 62 percent since 1990, while the rate among those in their late 40s has more than doubled. Among those who used I.V.F. in 2004, about a third of the 43-year-olds used someone else’s eggs; by 47 years old, 91 percent did.
With egg donation, science has succeeded in, if not extending women’s fertility, at least making an end run around it, allowing older women who, for a variety of reasons (lack of money, lack of partner, lack of interest, lack of partner’s interest) didn’t have children in their biological prime — as well as younger women with dysfunctional ovaries — to carry and bear babies themselves. It has given rise to the mind-bending phrase “biogenetic child,” meaning a child who is both biologically and genetically related to each of its parents, by, for the first time in history, separating those components. In that way, it is fundamentally different from sperm donation, though it also levels a certain playing field: mothers can now do what fathers always could — conceal the truth about their blood relationship to their children. And as with any new reproductive technology, it has provoked a torrent of social, legal and ethical questions about the entitlement to reproduce, what constitutes parenthood, children’s rights to know their origins and the very nature of family.
I first became interested in the implications of egg donation because I tried it. After five years of repeated miscarriages and invasive, futile infertility treatments, a 21-year-old friend offered to spot me her gametes, the cells containing half the chromosomes necessary for reproduction. It wasn’t something I ever imagined I’d consider — it seemed so “Handmaid’s Tale.” Then again, with a donor egg, I could feel a baby grow inside me, experience its kicks and flutters. I could control — that sweetest of words — the prenatal environment, guard against the evils of drug and drink. I could give birth to my own child, breast-feed it. After a year of discussion, my husband and I decided to go ahead, only to find that, when placed in a petri dish, his sperm and my friend’s eggs refused to tango.
Although my husband and I went on, improbably, to conceive our daughter spontaneously, I always wondered what it would have been like had that cycle worked. Would I have felt less authentic as a parent than my husband, or would my gestational contribution have seemed equivalent to his genetic one? Would we tell our child? And when? And how? What about strangers on the street who commented on how little the baby resembled me? What if someone said the baby did look like me and I smiled — would I feel dishonest? How would the experience be different from adoption? What kind of relationship would the child have with our friend, the donor? Would my husband feel awkward about pointing out similarities between our child and himself? What if the child someday turned to me and said, “You’re not my real mother?” What if I secretly agreed? What if she wanted to put the date I met our donor on her sixth-grade timeline?
...By the late ’80s, though, European researchers perfected a new method of retrieving eggs by using a thin needle, guided by ultrasound and inserted through the vaginal wall. The procedure took 10 minutes and required only light anesthesia. As Liza Mundy writes in her book “Everything Conceivable,” this technique would revolutionize — or, you could even argue, create — the fertility industry by unhooking clinics from their dependence on hospital operating rooms. Suddenly, any doc with a lab and the right equipment could set up his own shop. Using that advance, Paulson and his team made a breakthrough of their own: some of their patients had aged past 40, which was considered the outer limit for medical intervention, while waiting for donors. Would it be possible, Paulson wondered, to push that threshold? He tried transferring multiple embryos created from a young woman’s eggs into the body of a 40-year-old and she became pregnant. In 1990, Paulson published an article in The New England Journal of Medicine announcing that as long as the eggs were young, the age of the recipient appeared immaterial. And just like that, the market for donor eggs was born.
...Becky, who asked me to use a nickname, sat down and began scrolling through pictures on the Web site of Ova the Rainbow, one of the (regrettably named) agency sites she browsed last fall during her search for an egg donor. “When I first started doing this it was really emotional for me,” she said. “I kept thinking about that kids’ book, ‘Are You My Mother?’ I’m looking through these pictures of young women and feeling like: ‘Oh, my God! Is this the mother of my future child? Is this the mother of my future child?’ ”
I stood behind her, watching the young women go by. Each was accompanied by an assortment of photos: girls in caps and gowns graduating from high school, sunburned and smiling on family vacations, as preschoolers in princess frocks, sporting supermodel pouts in shopping-mall glamour portraits. Sperm banks rarely provide such visuals, which is just one disparity in the packaging and treatment of male and female donors, according to a study published last month in The American Sociological Review. Egg donors are often thanked with presents and notes by recipients for their generous “gift.” Sperm donors are reminded that they’re doing a “job,” providing a “sample,” and performing an act they’d presumably do anyway — which may be why many men in the study were rattled when told a pregnancy had actually occurred. And although the men could admit they were in it for the cash, ovum donors were expected to express at least a smidge of altruism.
It was weird to look at these pictures with Becky. I inevitably objectified the young women in them, evaluating their component parts; it made me feel strangely like a guy. Becky clicked on a photo of a 22-year-old brunette with a toothy grin. Each profile listed the donor’s age (many agencies consider donors to be over the hill by 30), hair color (there seemed to be a preponderance of blondes), eye color, weight, ethnicity, marital status, education level, high school or college G.P.A.’s, college major, evidence of “proved” fertility (having children of their own or previous successful cycles).
...the notion that blood is thicker than water, that we can pass on our best — or someone else’s best — characteristics (but somehow not our worst) is a powerful one, even though anyone who has biogenetic children will tell you that they can be as different from one another, and from their parents, as strangers.
Women using donor eggs know that. But the dream, the hope, of replicating oneself dies hard. “Loss is the first stage of building a family with donor gametes,” says Madeline Licker Feingold, a psychologist who works with couples pursuing third-party reproduction. As part of that reckoning, women have to give up not only on using their own eggs but also on the search for the perfect donor, one who is in every way their match. Or, as Becky put it: “It’s this tension between letting go and clinging to this ideal of the donor being ‘you.’ ”
...Becky’s search lasted about two months. Russell participated, too, of course, but since it was her genetic material they were replacing, she had the final say-so. Husbands typically defer to their wives for that reason, according to Feingold. The reverse, in her experience, is less true: women are usually more involved in choosing sperm donors than men are in choosing egg donors. That may be, she says, because women tend to be more devastated by infertility than men, regardless of whether its source is male or female...
“But I’m really attached to wanting to birth and nurse a child,” she added. “If this doesn’t work I might be ready to move on to adoption. But it’s not like you can say, ‘O.K., I’ll adopt.’ It’s not that easy. And the home visits are so intrusive. And anyway I’m not there yet.”
“Why don’t you just adopt?” That is the first question most people ask if you say you’re considering egg donation. It’s the question I asked myself, as had every potential donor recipient I spoke with. Why create a child where none existed? Why spend the money on something that’s not a sure bet? Why ask another woman, even (or maybe especially) a friend, to inject herself with drugs — drugs whose side effects, although unlikely, could require hospitalization and even, in extremely rare instances, be fatal. (Recipients of donor eggs are required to buy supplementary health insurance for the donors in case something untoward occurs.)
The answers among the women I met were both deeply personal and surprisingly consistent. Like Becky, these women longed for the experience of pregnancy, childbirth and breast-feeding. Often they (or, more often, their husbands) resisted adoption, reasoning that egg donation would be psychologically easier on the child, who would be born — rather than relinquished — into its family. They wanted the opportunity to hand-pick a donor’s genes rather than gamble on a birth mother’s and father’s. And they wanted to be able to see at least their husbands, if not themselves, reflected in their children’s faces.
Still, many questioned the morality of egg donation. “Taking into your home a baby who needs one is inherently more ethical than pursuing a very intensive route to have a biological child,” one potential donor recipient told me. Perhaps that’s why public support for and approval of parents who use donor gametes is lower than for those who adopt — the former is presumably perceived by some as a rather selfish act and the latter a selfless one. Yet adoption has often come with its own ethical quandaries, whether it was the girls “in trouble” who were pressured to give up their children in the 1950s or the current State Department caution against adopting from Guatemala in the wake of reports of child smuggling. What’s more, the idea of healthy infants who “need” homes, particularly white infants, is a myth: domestically, demand has always far outstripped supply.
Which is not to say that egg donation is without complexity — for either donors or recipients. Looking at the screen, Becky paused at a donor who identified herself as Jewish. I recalled waking up in a middle-of-the-night panic shortly before our cycle was to begin wondering, since my donor friend was gentile, whether our baby would be a Jew. My husband is not, and at any rate, Judaism is traditionally passed down matrilineally. How could the Talmudic scholars of yore have anticipated this conundrum? I called a Conservative rabbi who explained that, while there’s no general consensus across denominations, his movement’s official stance was that the gestational mother determines a child’s religion. That mollified me. Sort of.
A gentile donor was a deal-breaker for some Jewish couples I met. “I didn’t want to add to any identity conflict the child might already be experiencing,” said one potential mother in the Midwest who had found a New York agency that recruits young Israelis. “Certainly not about religion. It’s too delicate.”
Jewish donors, along with Asians, Ivy Leaguers and those with proven fertility, are considered “exceptional donors” and can command a hefty premium. A recruitment ad on New York’s Craigslist offered up to $10,000 for Asian donors. On some sites I visited, agencies were asking $15,000 for donors with proven fertility. There have been reports of agencies charging more than double that for other highly desirable women.
Yet there is often no way to know whether the information the donor gives, including her medical history and educational background, is accurate. A 2006 study conducted by researchers at New York University found that donors routinely lowballed their weight, and the heavier they were the more they fudged. Agencies, too, which are unregulated and unlicensed, can easily manipulate the truth. Many advertise I.Q. and psychological testing as part of their services, though there is no independent verification of either the results or the protocols used. Even if there were, jacking up fees for smarts is a dubious prospect. “Fees for donors are based on time and trouble, so I don’t see how someone who goes to Brown has more time or trouble doing this than someone who didn’t go to college at all,” Feingold, the psychologist, told me.“Parents are vulnerable. People would be willing to do a lot to take charge so that they didn’t need to feel so sad, bad, fearful and out of control. They’ll pay more money, do testing. But it’s impossible to do intelligence testing on an egg.”
To discourage both fraud and undue inducement, the ethics committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (A.S.R.M.) issued a position paper in 2006 on donor compensation: $5,000, they determined, was a reasonable but not coercive fee. Anything beyond that needed “justification,” and sums over $10,000 went “beyond what is appropriate.” What’s more, the committee denounced paying more for “personal attributes,” saying that the practice commodifies human gametes.
Those guidelines, however, are unenforceable among both A.S.R.M. physician members and the donor agencies listed on the group’s Web site as pledging compliance. A survey published in May of medical clinics with egg-donor programs (which are presumably under greater pressure to act ethically than unlicensed agencies) found that although donors received an average of $4,217 nationally, at least one clinic brokered a $10,000 fee and another $15,000; a recent Craigslist post directing new recruits to Columbia University Medical Center offered $8,000 to new recruits. One in five clinics considered the donor’s fertility history or ethnicity in establishing rates.
The word donor, then, may actually be a misnomer — at least in this country, where the free market prevails. Internationally, when governments say it, they mean it. Canada and France ban payments to egg donors. Britain reimburses expenses up to about $500 after submission of receipts; before deciding to forbid donation, Italy experimented with a partial “mirror” system, a kind of genetic tit-for-tat in which a husband donates sperm to shorten his wife’s waiting time for donor eggs. No nation has a pool of donors anywhere near the size of that in the United States.
The agency Becky eventually used charged her a flat $6,500 donor fee (there would’ve been a comparatively reasonable $500 premium if she had requested a Jewish or Asian donor) along with a $3,800 agency fee. Additionally, there were the costs of the donor’s medical screening and health insurance; legal fees; reimbursement for the donor’s and possibly a companion’s travel expenses if the donor was from out of the area (Becky’s wasn’t); and reimbursement for lost wages and child care. There were also the costs associated with any I.V.F. cycle: not only the fertility drugs but also physician, clinic and lab fees. And fees for freezing any unused embryos, in case the transfer failed or the couple wanted to have another child. Becky estimated that she and Russell would eventually be out about $35,000....
When I met Deborah this spring, she had finally committed to going ahead with a donor egg after several years of flirting with the idea — the donor was chosen, the fees paid, the contracts signed, the appointments planned, the drugs delivered. Yet, days before the process was to begin, she found herself lying awake nights, frantic over whether she was doing the right thing. “What gets to me is that the three of them would be genetically related,” she said, “and I would be the one. . . . It’s not about passing on my genes. It’s that I don’t want to be an outsider in my own family. I don’t want to feel less legitimate in my child’s eyes. I’d feel I’d have to prove my status as a mother by not making any mistakes and by being the perfect mother to this child. Otherwise, he or she could. . . . ” She trailed off, staring out the window again.
“I just don’t understand,” she went on to say after a moment. “How can one parent tell a child that the genetic connection is irrelevant to their bond — when it clearly means something to the father, or why would they have gone to such lengths to maintain it? How can I tell my son that the special sense of connection he shares with me and with his cousins is irrelevant, even forbidden to mention in front of his sibling, who wouldn’t have access to his own genealogy? That’s one of the reasons why I preferred adoption. At least it allows the family to maintain a coherent logic.”
Most parents expect that clarity, those bright lines in their genetic, biological and social relationships to their children. Becoming the parent of a donor-conceived offspring means reconciling, even embracing, something murkier. Before starting our donor cycle, my husband and I met once with a social worker, a standard requirement for couples using donor eggs — though, again, not for those using donor sperm. Her job wasn’t to screen us (she did, after all, work for the clinic and had little incentive to reject anyone) but to help us imagine how the genetic asymmetry might play out. What would it feel like to see my husband’s caterpillar eyebrows or artistic talent in my child but no heritable trait of my own? What about our extended families? My parents had assured me they’d love their grandchild no matter whose genes she carried. I knew they meant it, theoretically, but I wasn’t sure they could pull off the particulars. My dad loved to brag, “It’s in the genes!” when one of his grandkids excelled in school, sports or music. I worried over how hearing those comments would affect our child. Or maybe I worried over how they would affect me.
I wasn’t alone in my concern. According to a paper published in the March 2005 issue of the journal Social Science and Medicine, parents of donor-conceived kids found “resemblance talk” — something most of us consider innocuous — to be “ubiquitous, unavoidable and uncontrollable” and they feared the constant chitchat would stigmatize their child and throw the family’s legitimacy into question. This was true irrespective of whether parents had told their children how they had been conceived, and it exacerbated uncertainties about these decisions among both groups. It also made them apprehensive about whether their children could be fully accepted by their extended families.
“People see a child in a supermarket checkout line and almost reflexively make some comment about who he looks like or doesn’t look like,” said Robert Nachtigall, an adjunct clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of California, San Francisco and a co-author of the paper. “We interpret it as a kind of shorthand by which people validate the child’s position in the family, in society, by basically making comments that refer to the blood relationship that must exist between the child and his or her parents. The problem for people who have conceived with donor gametes is that they know it’s not true. And the dilemma for them is how to respond, if at all.”
Resemblance talk did something else, too: although emphatic that it didn’t change their love for their child, mothers said it was a constant reminder of their own infertility. “Your infertility is always kind of there when you do donor conception,” said Marie, the mother of 14-year-old Catherine. “It’s always there through adoption too.” The difference is that there’s widespread cultural support for adoption in a way there isn’t for donor conception. Families can access a longstanding network of social workers, psychologists, other parents. Marie knew this from personal experience: she was herself adopted at birth. “Adoptive families are not as isolated,” she said. “People have been educated. Although I still think in general the culture is adoption-negative, it’s certainly different than 30 years ago.”
For years there has been speculation about how high-profile, late-in-life moms got pregnant: Geena Davis had twins at 48; Holly Hunter had hers at 47; Jane Seymour’s were born when she was 44. Joan Lunden has had two sets of twins, one at 52 and one at 54; although she appeared on the cover of People with a gestational surrogate, when asked flat-out by reporters if she also used an egg donor she declined to comment. Elizabeth Edwards, who gave birth to a daughter at 48 and son at 50, has ducked the question as well, demurring that it’s not “ladylike” to discuss infertility. Marcia Cross, the actress, is one of the few celebrities to acknowledge, last year in a USA Today article, that older women may use donor eggs, “which doesn’t make the baby any less beautiful or perfect. One’s own eggs only last so long, and sometimes at 43 or 44 you can have your own baby, but statistically it’s very difficult and expensive. You don’t want to wait that long.” In a People cover story published after her twin girls were born, Cross was described as having “beat the odds” of conceiving via I.V.F. at age 44 using her own eggs.
Even those in the limelight have a right to privacy, especially where their children are concerned. At the same time, drawing that line at egg donation is troubling. For one thing, the author Liza Mundy says, it perpetuates the fantasy of women’s endless fertility, as much a Hollywood illusion as unfurrowed brows, full lips and perky breasts in middle age. In reality, according to C.D.C. statistics, in 2004, only 5.2 percent of 44-year-old women who transferred embryos created through I.V.F. using their own eggs gave birth. Among 47-year-old women, none did. With donor eggs, the odds for both sets of women jump to 51 percent and often far higher. It’s also hard to imagine that these same women would be equally circumspect had they adopted. Consider the proudly public stance of the adoptive mothers Angelina Jolie, Sharon Stone, Jamie Lee Curtis, Madonna. By trying to protect their children from stigma, famous egg-donor recipients may inadvertently be creating it.
Most parents of donor-conceived children won’t be expected to take a stand in the national press, but they do struggle over who to tell and when to tell, the difference between “secret” and “private” information and how much of the story is their child’s as opposed to their own. “The hardest part about not being willing to disclose until my daughter is old enough to understand is that I feel this responsibility to women my age,” said Anne, the mother of a 2 1/2-year-old girl conceived using a donor egg, who asked me to use only the middle names of her and her husband. “I want them to know they could do this, too — they could carry their baby, give birth to it, and it’s wonderful. This girl at work got pregnant. She was 43, a year older than I was when I got pregnant. She found out it was a Down baby and terminated.”
Anne’s eyes welled up, her voice dropping to a whisper. “I was so devastated for her. She came to my office and said, ‘You beat the odds.’ And I felt so guilty because I didn’t beat the odds. And I couldn’t say anything about it.”
...By the time the couple married, Anne was 40. “I used to say, ‘I’m willing to adopt but I want the experience of pushing out my own,’ ” she told me. An enthusiastic advocate of egg donation, she felt truly blessed that technology had so beautifully fulfilled her dreams...
According to several studies, most donor recipients haven’t told their children about their origins, though some researchers argue that this trend is reversing. The women I spoke with, all open enough about their choices to talk with me, said they did expect to tell their children. They talked about integrity and a child’s right to know his history. They mentioned the danger and difficulty of keeping family secrets. “If I keep it a secret, then why is it a secret?” Anne said. “Then I create the stigma even if no one else ever does. And I don’t want to be responsible for that. I want my daughter to understand that, you know, you were the best egg for the job.” Anne laughed. “And she’ll learn about perseverance. And that some things are nature: your genetic makeup makes you behave certain ways, or like certain things. That’s the way that it is. But I’ve been nurturing her. I carried her in my body. I pushed her out. She’s my child.”
The idea that disclosure could be a viable, even preferable, option is relatively new. Taking a cue from donor insemination, which was historically (and often still is) kept secret, fertility doctors initially counseled couples that disclosing to their children would only cause unnecessary confusion. I recall our first appointment to discuss egg donation at the clinic where we had undergone two I.V.F. cycles; a nurse led us to an office in a different part of the building and offered to close the blinds to ensure our privacy. Until then, I hadn’t realized we were supposed to feel furtive.
Deborah told me that she heard a clinic counselor speaking on a panel at an infertility conference promoting secrecy as a perk of egg donation. “She said, ‘The women who use donors tell me they just forget about it when they’re pregnant.’ She repeated that. Twice. Isn’t that awful?”
In truth, it isn’t clear that secrecy is necessarily damaging. In the most extensive longitudinal study to date, Susan Golombok, the director of the Center for Family Research at Cambridge University in England, has compared families who have sperm-donor children with those who have egg-donor children, as well as with those who used conventional I.V.F. and those who conceived naturally. In 2006, when her team last checked in with the donor-conceived children, they were 12, and most had not been told the nature of their conception. The kids in all of the groups were equally well adjusted. What’s more, parents of donor-conceived kids (and those who used conventional I.V.F.) were more involved with their kids’ lives than those who had conceived naturally.
Apparently, secrecy has not affected their relationships. But, Golombok wonders, what if those children someday discover the truth? Close to 75 percent of her subjects who were not planning to tell their children had told someone else that they had used a donor. What if the information came out accidentally or was blabbed during the course of a bitter divorce? What if the nongenetic parent contracted a fatal, genetically linked disease? That one hit home: I’d been through treatment for breast cancer five years before our donor cycle; I couldn’t imagine allowing a daughter to believe that she, too, would be at risk.
There have been no large-scale studies on how disclosure affects the psychological development of donor-egg-conceived kids or their relationships with their parents. But among teenagers who were told as young children that they had been conceived using donor sperm, there have been no negative repercussions, according to research by Joanna Scheib, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Davis. In 2004, the A.S.R.M. switched its official position to support disclosure, though not unequivocally.
According to Robert Nachtigall, who has looked at disclosure decisions as well as “resemblance talk,” both those parents who disclose and those who don’t have the same motivation: acting in the best interests of their children. “We were struck by how people could use the same argument and come to a different conclusion,” he said. “Disclosing parents perceived the danger would come from an internal disruption of the family dynamic: they felt that if the child found out from another person it would destroy the trust and their relationship. Nondisclosing parents were more concerned with threats from outside of the family, with stigma. They didn’t want to subject the child or themselves to public scrutiny, to be thought of as different or other. They’d made the decision that that was the greater threat, so they weren’t going to disclose. Both types realize that this information is powerful and important; they just have different strategies about how it is to be managed.”
Parents who take the leap, though, say they don’t regret it. In a study published this March of disclosure strategies among parents who had used donor eggs or sperm, Nachtigall and his co-authors found that many expressed relief at having told their children, as if a weight had been lifted, while most children’s responses ranged from neutral to positive. “That’s the big take-home message,” Nachtigall said. “Nobody regretted telling. Nobody.”
Once a child knows she was donor-conceived, what then? How far do her rights extend? Should she be able to meet her donor, and who gets to decide? It was clear to Marie, the donor recipient who is also an adoptee, that knowing one’s genetic lineage should not just be an option, it should be an entitlement. “There’s no way I would have a child of mine go through what I went through in terms of the not knowing and the questioning and the search.” she said. Not only did she and her husband, a 65-year-old lawyer, plan from the get-go to be open with Catherine about her conception, they also wanted to ensure that their daughter would, whenever she was ready, have access to the donor...
They have been in phone and e-mail contact with the donor, who at the time of the donation was a college student interning for an acquaintance of Marie’s, ever since. Catherine has known about the woman since preschool. “The comments she’d make about it at 5 were different than at 10,” Marie said.“At 5, we’d be driving to Safeway, and this little voice in the back of the car would say, ‘Now, what’s an egg donor again?’ At 10 there were a lot of questions about who she looked like and ‘Why don’t I look like you?’ ”
Then, when Catherine was 12, came the moment that all of the donor recipients I spoke to told me they dreaded. “She turned to me in this relaxed, ‘Hey, Mom, isn’t this interesting’ kind of voice and said, ‘You know, technically speaking, you’re not actually my mother.’ ”
This, Marie said, is where it helped to be a trained therapist — and perhaps an adoptee as well, someone who has understood from experience both the salience and limits of genetic relationships, that DNA doesn’t make the mom, but children need to figure out what, if anything, it signifies. “It was her way of acknowledging that this means something to her that’s completely independent of her relationship to me. And that’s inevitable: no amount of being wanted, planned for or loved eliminates that piece of the experience.”
...When it comes to the question of whether to reveal a donor’s identity to a child, at least for now, we leave the decisions to parents. Other nations say that prerogative is trumped by a person’s right to know his heritage: Britain, for example, recently banned anonymous donation; any children conceived after 2005 will have access once they turn 18 to identifying details about their sperm or egg donors. Since 2000, when the debate over this issue began, the number of registered egg donors in Britain has dropped almost 25 percent.
Yet egg donors and recipients may have less to fear from open donations than they imagine, at least if the experience is comparable to sperm donation. According to Joanna Scheib’s research, teens who were conceived with “open-identity” sperm — who when they turn 18 can have access to their donor’s name — said that, while more than 80 percent were interested in meeting their donors, fewer than 7 percent wanted to establish a father-child relationship with them.
A few days after my conversation with Marie, I talked to Becky. She had just found out she was pregnant with twins. “Twins!” she crowed. She had always hoped to have two children: both she and Russell are close to their siblings. Now she was jubilant, if jittery. “When I found out, I walked around in a haze for a week thinking, What have I done?” she said, laughing. “As for the donor piece, I imagine this could make it easier. They won’t be alone in their situation. They’ll be in the same boat. I’m glad that they’ll be together and genetically related to each other.”
She paused a moment, thinking about her future. “I’m just happy,” she said. Finally, Becky would be a mother, her husband a father, the two of them building a family with all the conflict, joy and unpredictability that entails — regardless of whose genes are involved.
Peggy Orenstein is a contributing writer for the magazine and author of the memoir, “Waiting for Daisy: A Tale of Two Continents, Three Religions, Five Infertility Doctors, an Oscar, an Atomic Bomb, a Romantic Night and One Woman’s Quest to Become a Mother.”"
When we were in the process of conceiving our first child through IVF we were interviewed by a PhD candidate. She was comparing the experiences of lesbians who had kids by adopting, using alternative insemination or putting the eggs of one woman in the womb of the second.
One thing she told us is that every couple she interviewed who didn't use a sperm bank regretted it or had problems. Using a "friend" as a sperm donor sets lesbians up for big problems later on. This is different with egg donors because courts see two mothers and don't think a third mom is needed. But women without a man in charge of their lives are dangerous and deficient. Sperm donors are frequently awarded custody of the children of lesbians. If you don't want the hassles of divorce without the rights of marriage, use a sperm bank ladies.
"Sperm donor wins Irish custody battle
Thu Jul 19, 9:34 PM ET
SUMMARY: A lesbian couple wed in a U.K. civil union cannot take their 14-month-old boy to one mom's native Australia for long periods, the judge rules.
A man who donated his sperm to a lesbian couple won a legal fight Thursday to keep his biological son in Ireland.
The Supreme Court judgment was a first in Ireland, a predominantly Roman Catholic country where the rights of same-sex couples and sperm donors have not been spelled out. Now the couple, wed in a civil-union ceremony in England, cannot spend long periods in Australia with their 14-month-old boy as planned, but can only vacation there for up to six weeks.
Another courtroom battle between the man and the couple looms over joint custody of the boy.
Two judges, Justices Susan Denham and Joseph Finnegan, ruled that the toddler's best interests required him to stay in Ireland near his biological father. The third judge, Justice Nial Fennelly, disagreed, arguing no evidence was offered that the boy would be harmed by leaving Ireland.
"The case is utterly unique and unprecedented," Fennelly wrote in his dissent, noting that neither the parental rights of sperm donors nor lesbian couples are defined in Irish law.
Neither side has been publicly identified, following Ireland's policy of granting anonymity to family law litigants.
The lesbian couple -- an Irishwoman and an Australian -- exchanged vows in January 2006, just after same-sex civil unions were legalized in the United Kingdom. The Irishwoman was pregnant by the Irish sperm donor, who signed a contract giving him visitation rights.
The boy, born in May 2006, has his biological father's name as his middle name, and the couple initially granted the man regular visits. But tensions quickly grew, both sides' lawyers agreed.
The couple restricted the man's access to the boy, then announced they planned to go to Australia for up to a year. The man filed two lawsuits -- one to restrict the trip and another seeking joint custody. The custody case is to be heard this fall.
Thursday's verdict upheld a judgment by High Court Justice Henry Abbott, who ruled the couple could take the boy to Australia for six weeks. The Supreme Court held that until the custody claim is considered, the boy should travel outside Ireland for only a limited period. (Shawn Pogatchnik, AP) "
There have been several stories I've read about lesbians who get pregnant at the same time to complete their family all at once. Having been through two pregnancies together, my wife and I think this is nuts. Who runs out for the pickles and ice cream at 2am if both women are pregnant? Who carries the groceries?
I was just reading about two women who each gave birth to sextuplets on the same day. When I told my wife about this, she said "Is that those two lesbians who both got pregnant at the same time? Bad planning on their part!". She was just joking, but I thought it was pretty funny, the idea that a female couple could end up with 12 babies at once.
No, each woman who gave birth to sextuplets was married to a man. They have more in common than that. Both couples see the conception of the six babies as "an act of God", even though they both needed fertility treatment to get pregnant. Of course, each saw selective reduction as against God's plan.
I'm fine with people not seeing an infertility diagnosis as "God's plan". But how is that not the plan and having to take powerful drugs that make you conceive too many children is? What God would plan that they carry six babies, give birth to six disabled children and, as with one of the women, experience heart failure upon giving birth?
Let's either leave things up to God entirely or take responsibility for our own selfish, destructive decisions. Poor God. S/he is not to blame for every stupid thing done by us humans. But the couples who gave birth to the sextuplets put it all on God. Their websites are chock full with prayer requests and discussions of "miracles". A miracle is when someone gives birth to a healthy child, not whelps a litter of innocent, damaged children who will never be well, just because they can.
At least one of the couples is fessing up to having used fertility drugs. Three rounds of increasingly strong drugs before the sextuplets were finally conceived. God's plan -- that the first two drugs didn't work but the third one did -- was not very efficient.
The second couple will only say they became pregnant through "artificial insemination". What?!? Call the sperm bank and get that guy's sample. He's the world's biggest stud if he can make a woman ovulate six eggs instead of the usual one or two. Obviously that couple used fertility drugs as well and is lying about it. Why? Because it wasn't them dooming their children to disability and forcing tax-payers to foot millions of dollars in medical bills, it was God.
I assumed that the news report I read on the "artificial insemination" couple was simply wrong, so I looked at the many press clippings on their website. Sure enough, the phrase "insemination" came up in each story, sometimes as a direct quote. This is a calculated effort on the part of the couple to deceive. They are completely open about every aspect of their story so it's not a privacy issue. It's a direct attempt to hide the truth.
There is one other possible explanation. Perhaps they conceived six children another way. The mother is quoted below:
...it was a shock to learn Jenny was carrying sextuplets. The ultrasound technician showed the young mother-to-be something she never expected to see.
"So she counted and she was like, 'One, two, three, four,' and then she lost it and then I was like balling hysterically and I was like, 'Oh my God, I don't know.'" Then she's like five and I was like, 'Oh my gosh' and then she stopped,"
So that's how they conceived six: it wasn't "artificial insemination", it was "balling hysterically".
However it happened, people who claim to be pro-child and doom their own children leave me BAWLing hysterically.
After the recipients transferred one embryo and it didn't take they decided to thaw the remaining two embryos and transfer both at once. We were fine with this, since we were mainly trying to avoid contributing to needless disability should they transfer three embryos at once and have all three take.
When the recipients thawed the last two embryos, only one survived. It grew to a grade B, 4-celled embryo. That is the exact same size and grade of the embryos, from two different egg retrieval batches, which resulted in our son and daughter. Since all of my embryos to date had reached grade B, 4-cells (except the first embryo the recipients thawed), we had hope that this embryo would result in a baby for the recipients.
Unfortunately, that hope was unfounded. The transfer did not work. The recipients did not get pregnant from the embryos we donated to them. We wish we had more embryos to offer them so they could try again, but we only had three left over.
Erin, the recipient who tried to get pregnant for two years through insemination and then using my embryos, felt she had "let us down" by not getting pregnant with the embryos we gave her and her partner. But I told the recipients that the benefit of using a donor is you can blame any problems on him or her.
In this case, the eggs with which the embryos were created were 37 years old, which isn't the freshest. I told the recipients that it was certainly my old, musty eggs that caused the problem, not Erin.
We are sad we could not help these wonderful women become mothers. They are now pursuing other options. Of course, if you have some spare eggs or embryos lying around, let me know and I will pass the information along to them. You could not find warmer, more loving women. We hope their child will come to them soon.
More Recent Articles