A good friend of ours – Marna Gatlin, Founder of PVED (parents via egg donation in the United States) wrote this article recently. It really touched us here at Global IVF – because regardless of where in the world we decide to do egg donation — if that is what we need to /have to do in order to have a child — then these thoughts/issues will come up for us too. Anyone who turns to egg donation as a means of creating or adding to their family will inevitably have to deal with the issues of giving up their genetic link. Some of us have an easier time doing this than others. Psychological counseling can help. Organizations like PVED can help. It’s good to know that you’re not alone when you’re going through these issues. Because often times they can be alienating and overwhelming. Egg donation is now available throughout the world. There are pros & cons of going to different countries to do it. Sometimes the reasons are legal, sometimes financial, sometimes emotional. The good news is the success rates of having a child via egg donation in most countries that are now doing it around the world are quite high. This was not so true even just a few years ago. For those of us who are infertile, or fertility – challenged, we are thankful that egg donation is available. – Global IVF, Inc.
I was quoted the other day in the New York Times <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/11/health/11eggs.html> about my feelings about regulation regarding egg donation. I am not shy about how I feel on the subject. I think less is more where the government is concerned. The issue being that we are supposed to be a self-regulating community regarding egg donation and Third-Party reproduction and we aren’t. The Nadya Suleman’s of the world have put the “freak show” back into Advanced Reproductive Technology (ART), which frankly irritates me to no end because we as a community have worked so hard to educate the public about ART specifically egg donation. Moreover, while we want to put a face on those who create their families via egg donation many of us are afraid to be “outed “because of public reaction to something “different.” The NYT article as well as the ABC TV news story <
http://abcnews.go.com/WN/egg-donation-agencies-paid-money-favored-attributes/story?id=10614326> focused on the cost of eggs and those agencies who don’t abide by ASRM guidelines because after all they are just guidelines. ABC also focused on donor compensation, and what characteristics recipients felt were important in making their donor selection.
This got me to thinking about egg donation as a whole. How I get from point “A” to point “B” meaning how I made my own donor choices and my journey along the way. For me when I received my diagnosis that to create my family and become a mother I would need to rely on an egg donor I was initially relieved. Finally, a doctor could name what was wrong with me instead shrugging and saying “I don’t know.”
After 16 years of failure I was sick of “I don’t know.”
Then I began to ruminate – about my future child, about the fact I would not be seeing myself in the eyes of my child, or for that matter having a child that would have no genetic connection to me or my side of the family. I won’t fool you – that was a tough pill to swallow. Nevertheless, I swallowed it. I gnashed my teeth in the beginning because I didn’t know any better. I cried bitterly and shook my fist at my creator. “Nine times I lost babies and now you are telling me I can have a child maybe but I have to give up my genetics? Have you lost your mind!?”
So what did I do? I took the blue pill and jumped through the looking glass with both feet. I have never looked back. I have only gone forward. For instance, I decided I hated the fact I am a shrimp. Being short has been the bane of my existence. I feel strongly that tall people have it easier in life. Therefore, I decided I wanted a tall donor – an Amazon if I could find one. A tall donor coupled with my husband’s 6’3 stature would create a very tall child. I have some cardiac issues on my side of the family as well as Diabetes. I wanted to make sure my egg donor had a clean health history. I also was sick of my stick straight dark hair that never did anything. I have paid a lot of money over the years to have curly hair – so I selected an egg donor with thick curly hair. Is that being vain? Probably. However, my mindset was if I have to trade in my own genetics I might as well find someone not only had the characteristics I found appealing, but also someone that I could connect with, and fit into our family.
Was I scared? You bet I was. The insecurity I felt was overwhelming. However, I realized through the process it wasn’t just about losing my genetic link it was about finally becoming a mom. 1. Would I be a good mother? 2. Would I be as good of a mother as my own mother who inspires me every day? 3. Would I screw up my kid? 4. Would I be able to love this child even though this child and I shared no DNA?
Finally, when I was able to answer those questions:
2. Yes, my own mom taught me the most important thing about being a parent was to love your children unconditionally and to accept your children period – warts and all.
3. Yes, not only would I screw up my kid, I was going to do it on a regular basis. I was going to do it so much that I decided I would provide my kid with a “therapy bucket”. Every time I screwed him up, I’d give him a buck to toss in the therapy bucket to pay for the therapy he’d need later in his life.
4. Yes! Yes! Yes! I have to say this was probably the easiest part for me – was to love him unconditionally. And this is coming from someone who started out in a rocky place. I didn’t feel worthy of this piece of perfection, and when I finally got it together and came to realize I was deserving of this being who loved me unconditionally my shields and defenses came down I began to love and haven’t stopped since.
When I hear the media use the term designer babies, or read the snarky comments from those who do not agree with how intended parents select their egg donors I am left with the question – “How did you go about selecting your mate or life partner?” There were certainly characteristics you found attractive or appealing were there not? It is the same for us – except we do not get to use our own genetics to have our children we rely on a third party for that purpose – and with that being said, I see no reason for us not to be able to be comfortable with our egg donor selection.
So let us fast forward to 2010 – almost 10 years have passed since the birth of my son. The whole egg donor – selection process is hazy. In fact, even though I am the founder of PVED <http://www.pved.org/> I often forget about the donor aspect because he is simply my son. He is an amazing, beautiful, well-adjusted, blue eyed, very tall nine year old who could care less about the manner in which he was conceived. Moreover, we don’t care how he was conceived. We are just glad he is here, that he is part of our family, and I am thankful every day for the privilege to love him.
I am not sure even why I feel the need to defend my choices. In the end, what others think is not important. I am my son’s mom they aren’t.