Category Archives: children

Let’s get it right – Once and for all WE are our children’s mothers, not our egg donor.

Shhh mommy is bloggingThis is an open letter to all of the amazing and terrific medical personnel that we depend on daily to help keep ourselves and our families healthy.

We love you, we really do. And we thank you for all you do.

We have called you in the middle of the night to wake you out of a sound sleep because of a fever, rash, colic, or any number of ailments our children may have that seriously freak us out.

We can’t tell you how many times we are going to thank you for stitching up an eyebrow, or a forehead, casting an arm or a leg, removing a bean or a bead from our toddlers nose, or diagnosing us with a case of chicken pox, along with an assortment of other childhood illnesses.

When our children have been diagnosed with something of a more concerning nature like Autism, ADHD, Anxiety, or seriously ill with those diseases that we find even too horrific to utter we turn to you for guidance, treatment, and support.

Because I am a mom via egg donation I can attest that it truly takes a village to create and raise our families. That’s why I am reaching out today for your help. It’s important that we all use the correct language regarding egg donation, embryo donation, and surrogacy with egg donation or embryo donation.

What is very helpful to we parents via egg donation is for the medical community to listen to us as we explain the often complex way our child came to be. If you think its wild hearing it for the first time, try being a mom who finds herself answering the dreaded “maternal side” of the family health questions.

“Our son was conceived via egg donation. Genetically, I am not related to my son. But this is what we know about his egg donor, and this is her medical history.”

That really is all you have to hear, unless you are truly interested in egg donation, and what that journey is like.

What is not helpful are answers like:

“So, genetically, he is really not yours.”
“Please tell me more about the donor mother.”
“So let me get this straight, his real mom was his egg donor, but you carried him?”
“Why isn’t his genetic mother here at this appointment today?”

And my all-time favorite: “Wow, that is really kind of crazy, how does your husband feels about him having a baby with another woman?”

The egg donor is referred to as the egg donor unless the intended parents have chosen to refer to her by name, or Aunt Sally, or a nickname, or whatever they choose to refer her as. Please don’t refer to her as the “Donor Mom” because she is not my child’s mother.

I am the one who is up nights feeding, nurturing, loving, changing diapers, and carrying for this child.
I am the one who loses sleep over sickness, crying, fevers, and my child’s welfare.
I am the one who practices in her head the story I am going to be telling my child on how he was wanted, celebrated, and prepared for – and how we worked so hard despite many failures to bring him into the world with the help of a very nice lady who donated her eggs to us.
I am the one who is going to balance work and mothering, who will cry with happiness as I watch my child say his first words, or take his first steps.
I am the one who is going to sob the first time I leave him at school of any kind, watch him get his heart broken, leave for college, partner, marry, and maybe one day have his own family.

I am the one. Not our egg donor. She is going to be too busy living her own life with her own children.

So please remember when we are sitting in your exam room with our children and we have to answer the dreaded health history — when you see or hear us begin to relay to you that our children were conceived via egg donation just listen, and if you have any questions about our donors health history which is part of our child’s health history you ask about the donors health history, not the donor mom, or the genetic mom, or the real mom’s health history. Because frankly, she’s not any of those things.

We are our child’s mothers and no one else.

Guest Post: How to Tell Your Kid She was Conceived via DEIVF

fecund-avatarToday’s guest post was written by Lauren — proud mama of a plucky little rainbow who was conceived thanks to egg donation. Lauren writes about her journey on her blog, On Fecund Thought.

A version of this post first appeared on OnFecundThought.com on April 6, 2015.

Before I cycled, I was sort of freaking out on Twitter about how to tell my (hopefully) future kid that he or she came to us via the egg donor we’d just picked. It was November 2013 and you might say that’s when shit got real.

Fortune shone a light on me in that moment. Marna from Parents via Egg Donation (PVED.org) happened to be on Twitter at that time and said I was welcome to call her.

I am? I asked, incredulous that she would take the time to talk to me.
Of course! she winked.
Like, now? I double-checked.
Absolutely!
She seemed emphatic, so I dialled her number.

Marna’s advice in a sentence: Start early and do it often.

How early? Start when you’re pregnant.

Whoa. I mean, that really is early, isn’t it? But around 28 weeks, the point at which I was finally able to relax and enjoy my pregnancy, and when I knew my daughter could hear, I began.

When she was two months old, friends asked how I planned to tell her. I grinned and said, “Well, I’m working out the flow of the story, but it goes a little something like this…”

Talking About DEIVF with My Baby Daughter

*Trigger Warning*
You can hear the baby making noises in this clip.

When I called Marna, what I didn’t know at the time is that she is a mom via egg donation and founded PVED so that no other parent would have to go through the DEIVF process alone, like she did.

If this post has helped you, it’s indirectly because of PVED. Please consider making a donation today.

 

I Am Your Child

My son is going to be 12 this year.  How is that possible?  Almost thirteen years ago we were overwhelmed with selecting an egg donor, hanging on to every word our Reproductive Endocrinologist said,  and embarking upon the journey of a lifetime.  Scared to death as we were putting my reproductive life into the hands of another,  and unsure about many things, but focusing on the goal which was becoming parents, the only part we were sure about which was simply being

“Mom and Dad”

It seems like yesterday that we were gently placing our son’s tiny seven pound body into the car seat and  strapping him in for his first ride home. Oh how terrified we were.  I think we drove 25 miles per hour all the way home. And then we joyously experienced all of those firsts, his first smile, his first words, his first steps, lost his first tooth, and before I knew it my husband and I were taking him to his first day of Kindergarten.

And now he’s embarking upon puberty, middle school, and he’s just plain growing up with all the stuff that goes with that — namely independence.

Over the past 12 years I have had plenty of time to think about my role in my son’s life, the loss of my genetics, being a mom, and what that all means.  During this time my son and I have had many conversations about “all of this” and my son who is wise beyond his years has simplified it for me. 

He says to me, “Mom, I am your child.” And while he waxes Yoda I am reminded me of Barry Manilow’s simple yet powerful song: I am your child

Wherever you go you take me too
Whatever I know, I learned from you
Whatever I do, you taught me to do

I am your child
And I am your chance

Whatever will come, will come from me
Tomorrow is won by winning me

Whatever I am, you taught me to be
I am your hope, I am your chance

I am your child

Whatever I am, you taught me to be
I am your hope, I am your chance

I am your child

These children we work so hard to bring into the world are simply our children.  It doesn’t matter that they don’t share our DNA what matters is they are our children.  And as the song goes “Whatever I am, you taught me to be, I am your hope, I am your chance, I am your child.”

Damn if this doesn’t bring it home for me. 

I Am Your Child

My son is going to be 12 this year.  How is that possible?  Almost thirteen years ago we were overwhelmed with selecting an egg donor, hanging on to every word our Reproductive Endocrinologist said,  and embarking upon the journey of a lifetime.  Scared to death as we were putting my reproductive life into the hands of another,  and unsure about many things, but focusing on the goal which was becoming parents, the only part we were sure about which was simply being

“Mom and Dad”

It seems like yesterday that we were gently placing our son’s tiny seven pound body into the car seat and  strapping him in for his first ride home. Oh how terrified we were.  I think we drove 25 miles per hour all the way home. And then we joyously experienced all of those firsts, his first smile, his first words, his first steps, lost his first tooth, and before I knew it my husband and I were taking him to his first day of Kindergarten.

And now he’s embarking upon puberty, middle school, and he’s just plain growing up with all the stuff that goes with that — namely independence.

Over the past 12 years I have had plenty of time to think about my role in my son’s life, the loss of my genetics, being a mom, and what that all means.  During this time my son and I have had many conversations about “all of this” and my son who is wise beyond his years has simplified it for me. 

He says to me, “Mom, I am your child.” And while he waxes Yoda I am reminded me of Barry Manilow’s simple yet powerful song: I am your child

Wherever you go you take me too
Whatever I know, I learned from you
Whatever I do, you taught me to do

I am your child
And I am your chance

Whatever will come, will come from me
Tomorrow is won by winning me

Whatever I am, you taught me to be
I am your hope, I am your chance

I am your child

Whatever I am, you taught me to be
I am your hope, I am your chance

I am your child

These children we work so hard to bring into the world are simply our children.  It doesn’t matter that they don’t share our DNA what matters is they are our children.  And as the song goes “Whatever I am, you taught me to be, I am your hope, I am your chance, I am your child.”

Damn if this doesn’t bring it home for me. 

Of Course Mother’s Matter – We matter

Elizabeth Marquardt – I am calling you out. This is from one mother to another:

I read your latest article “Do Mothers Matter” and I am left with a sort of “What the heck” head scratching reaction to not only this article but to you Elizabeth.
You seem to think that if you have a child any way other than “the old fashioned way” (heterosexual sexual relations) that your children are going to reject you, or in some way they are going to suffer. So that means all of us who have had children via egg donation or sperm donation we are in some way harming our children.

You go on to imply that in some way if women use an egg donor to create their family, or if they happen to need the services of a gestational carrier that their child is going to grow up missing his or her “real mother”.

Really, all I could think was what planet are you from Elizabeth?

What I know about you: You are the Vice President for Family Studies and Director of the Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values (IAV) co-authored a report-study titled “My Daddy’s Name Is Donor” You wrote a study based on those children conceived through sperm donation. You make the argument that those kids created through sperm donation struggle with a parental loss when they don’t know their biological father. You also go on to say that this can lead to depression, delinquency, or addiction and you assume the same with donor eggs, or gestational carriers.

The problem with this report is that you have no credibility in my opinion because you published non-peer reviewed research under the guide of the IAV. Those who are indeed established academics in the field of donor conception have misgivings that are quite serious about your methods of research because your ability to come to any sort of rational conclusion are not supported by your findings.

But really our kids who are conceived via egg donation are going to miss their real mothers, and they are going to become depressed, become juvenile delinquents, and become addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, food, etc… I mean really?

Here’s a clue Elizabeth – guess what else leads to depression, addiction, and delinquency? Parents who are unavailable emotionally, bad parents, divorce, abusive parents, unwanted pregnancy, as well as those kids who undergo trauma of some sort, those children who are from disadvantaged socio-economic circumstances, situations where kids undergo incredible stress, genetics and the list goes on.

I for the life of me cannot fathom that those kids who are intentionally and mindfully brought into this world by non-traditional methods are going to suffer or have some sort of negative impact upon their mental health. I just can’t wrap my head around that.

In reading your article I think of my child who I just love so much. The kid we brought into this world mindfully.  The one we waited for, for many many years. The child we invested so much time, money, emotion, love, and work.

The baby that told us at age two “Momma I chose you, I waited in line for a long time”. 
Is this kid missing his “genetic parent” or to take it a step further – “Is this kid missing his genetic mother?” I don’t think so. I am right here. Live, in the flesh, caring for him, cheering him on at school, helping him with his homework, taking care of him when he’s sick, comforting him if he’s scared, tending to his scrapped knees, happy, or sad – I am the one who is his go to when he needs something.

Not his egg donor.

What I don’t understand Elizabeth is how can you even think for two seconds that somehow my son’s egg donor – genetic parent – genetic mother, whatever you want to call her is even remotely more important than myself? I mean come on, you are a mother yourself think about all you do for your child. Well guess what? I do the same. I care for my child, raise him in a loving and stable home, prepare him for the world, provide him a spiritual education, provide food, clothes, a roof, and offer him unconditional love.

Are kids conceived via egg donation going to have questions? Of course they will. It’s human nature. Some are going to care about this more than others. My kid is curious. He wants to know if his egg donor is nice. Does he look like her? Does she like coffee and chocolate like he does? Do they share the same allergies? He is also going to tell you that he doesn’t spend his every waking moment wondering what she’s doing. It’s because he has a mother and his life is full living his life. The way it should be. Does he want to meet her one day? Yes and why is that? He wants to say “thank you”. He says he wants to complete the circle and thank her for helping us have him. It’s certainly not because he misses her. He doesn’t even know her, she contributed a single cell, a blue print if you will, she helped give him his start.

I answer every question he asks me about his origins. There are no secrets in our home. He has access to his egg donor’s profile, and we happen to have a great relationship with our Reproductive Endocrinologist Dr. John Hesla who he can ask questions about her any time he chooses. But does my kid feel like he’s walking around half of a person or the shell of a person because he doesn’t interact or know his egg donor? No not at all. Does that sound like a child who is missing his genetic parent? I don’t think so.

Personally, I feel strongly that how a child is conceived has nothing to do with how they are going to “turn out” or grow up as adults. It’s what happens after they are born.
So let me ask you Elizabeth, after reading all of this, and being a mother yourself, do you really think kids conceived via egg donation or embryo donation are going to miss their egg donor or to take it a step further their genetic parent?

Of Course Mother’s Matter – We matter

Elizabeth Marquardt – I am calling you out. This is from one mother to another:

I read your latest article “Do Mothers Matter” and I am left with a sort of “What the heck” head scratching reaction to not only this article but to you Elizabeth.
You seem to think that if you have a child any way other than “the old fashioned way” (heterosexual sexual relations) that your children are going to reject you, or in some way they are going to suffer. So that means all of us who have had children via egg donation or sperm donation we are in some way harming our children.

You go on to imply that in some way if women use an egg donor to create their family, or if they happen to need the services of a gestational carrier that their child is going to grow up missing his or her “real mother”.

Really, all I could think was what planet are you from Elizabeth?

What I know about you: You are the Vice President for Family Studies and Director of the Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values (IAV) co-authored a report-study titled “My Daddy’s Name Is Donor” You wrote a study based on those children conceived through sperm donation. You make the argument that those kids created through sperm donation struggle with a parental loss when they don’t know their biological father. You also go on to say that this can lead to depression, delinquency, or addiction and you assume the same with donor eggs, or gestational carriers.

The problem with this report is that you have no credibility in my opinion because you published non-peer reviewed research under the guide of the IAV. Those who are indeed established academics in the field of donor conception have misgivings that are quite serious about your methods of research because your ability to come to any sort of rational conclusion are not supported by your findings.

But really our kids who are conceived via egg donation are going to miss their real mothers, and they are going to become depressed, become juvenile delinquents, and become addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, food, etc… I mean really?

Here’s a clue Elizabeth – guess what else leads to depression, addiction, and delinquency? Parents who are unavailable emotionally, bad parents, divorce, abusive parents, unwanted pregnancy, as well as those kids who undergo trauma of some sort, those children who are from disadvantaged socio-economic circumstances, situations where kids undergo incredible stress, genetics and the list goes on.

I for the life of me cannot fathom that those kids who are intentionally and mindfully brought into this world by non-traditional methods are going to suffer or have some sort of negative impact upon their mental health. I just can’t wrap my head around that.

In reading your article I think of my child who I just love so much. The kid we brought into this world mindfully.  The one we waited for, for many many years. The child we invested so much time, money, emotion, love, and work.

The baby that told us at age two “Momma I chose you, I waited in line for a long time”. 
Is this kid missing his “genetic parent” or to take it a step further – “Is this kid missing his genetic mother?” I don’t think so. I am right here. Live, in the flesh, caring for him, cheering him on at school, helping him with his homework, taking care of him when he’s sick, comforting him if he’s scared, tending to his scrapped knees, happy, or sad – I am the one who is his go to when he needs something.

Not his egg donor.

What I don’t understand Elizabeth is how can you even think for two seconds that somehow my son’s egg donor – genetic parent – genetic mother, whatever you want to call her is even remotely more important than myself? I mean come on, you are a mother yourself think about all you do for your child. Well guess what? I do the same. I care for my child, raise him in a loving and stable home, prepare him for the world, provide him a spiritual education, provide food, clothes, a roof, and offer him unconditional love.

Are kids conceived via egg donation going to have questions? Of course they will. It’s human nature. Some are going to care about this more than others. My kid is curious. He wants to know if his egg donor is nice. Does he look like her? Does she like coffee and chocolate like he does? Do they share the same allergies? He is also going to tell you that he doesn’t spend his every waking moment wondering what she’s doing. It’s because he has a mother and his life is full living his life. The way it should be. Does he want to meet her one day? Yes and why is that? He wants to say “thank you”. He says he wants to complete the circle and thank her for helping us have him. It’s certainly not because he misses her. He doesn’t even know her, she contributed a single cell, a blue print if you will, she helped give him his start.

I answer every question he asks me about his origins. There are no secrets in our home. He has access to his egg donor’s profile, and we happen to have a great relationship with our Reproductive Endocrinologist Dr. John Hesla who he can ask questions about her any time he chooses. But does my kid feel like he’s walking around half of a person or the shell of a person because he doesn’t interact or know his egg donor? No not at all. Does that sound like a child who is missing his genetic parent? I don’t think so.

Personally, I feel strongly that how a child is conceived has nothing to do with how they are going to “turn out” or grow up as adults. It’s what happens after they are born.
So let me ask you Elizabeth, after reading all of this, and being a mother yourself, do you really think kids conceived via egg donation or embryo donation are going to miss their egg donor or to take it a step further their genetic parent?

For Intended Parents Regarding Your Egg Donor Contracts: Before you sign on the dotted line…

I’ll be honest in March of 2000 when I embarked upon my donor egg cycle I made a mistake. I was afraid, intimidated, and overwhelmed by the whole process.  The idea of accepting someone else’s genetics to create my family seemed so “out there” – Star Trekish I guess?  So when the agreement between myself and the clinic was presented to me stating my cycle would be completely anonymous I didn’t question it.  The notion of knowing my egg donor, seeing her face, or oh my god having a “relationship” with her was just so over the top – no way. 
I felt so strongly about this I found myself saying “I don’t want her face taking up my head space”  “I am the only mother my child will need”  “All I did was receive a cell from her, that’s all everything else is all on me” 
And while the above is true my insecurities are making decisions for my child’s right to know his origins, it’s not right.  It took me a while to become confident and secure in who I was as my child’s mother.  Once I was there the whole not genetically related component quietly faded into the woodwork.  What was left – doing the right thing by my son, led by his direction regarding information and what kind of connection if any he might want with his egg donor.
I used to think when I’d read the writings of those kids born from donor sperm say they felt that half of their identity was missing that they were being overly dramatic or  experiencing classic teenage angst.  But the reality is even though it’s just a strand of DNA – it really is “their” DNA, it’s their strand, it makes up genetically half of who they are.  For them to want to know that piece is really okay.  And it should be. 
It’s not up to me to deny him that.
Over the years the conversations with my son about his origins have been many.  Mostly funny, always poignant and meaningful – I marvel at how much I learn from my child each and every time we talk about the donor aspect of his life.
For those that know me, allowing someone else to lead the way or direct a path that needs to be followed is so foreign to me for I have always been the take charge; lead the way kind of a person. This has been truly a humbling experience because for once it’s not all about me. 
It’s about my child and his needs.
In the beginning when he first began to comprehend his story he was fascinated with coming from a magic egg and having an “Angel Lady” help his mamma have a baby.  As he got older he began to as more questions about his egg donor.  He wanted to know what she was like, and I couldn’t tell him.  The only information I had was what was on a profile that was given to me when we selected her.  My son also wanted to know what she looked like. “Do I look like her mom?”  “I wonder if we look alike.” He now wonders if she is a nice person.  He wonders what her parents are like or what her siblings are like.  Really, all very normal questions for a kid his age to have. He wonders about his English and Norwegian heritage.  All things I can’t really tell him about because I don’t have the information.
Not knowing this information I don’t think is going to make or break him as a little boy, or damage him as he grows into adulthood but looking back on “all of this” I wish if I could change one thing it would be that I didn’t make my choices out of fear.  I wish that I had met her, or at least had the ability to contact her at a later date.  As it stands now that might never happen and we are at the mercy of our clinic – and it’s our hope they just approach our donor, ask her if she’d like contact on some level, and most importantly allow her to make that decision, not the clinic make that decision for her.
So what’s my point to all of this?  Make sure you have made up your mind in regard to donor contact and make a plan.  If you aren’t sure what you want, at least give yourself options.  Sign up with the Donor Sibling Registry.  Have your donor sign up with the donor sibling registry.  That way you both can have contact on your time table, and at your comfort level.  You won’t have a clinic or agency making those choices for you. And you won’t find yourself “shoulda” “woulda” or “coulda-ing” yourself to death. 
You owe it to yourself and your child – make a plan.

For Intended Parents Regarding Your Egg Donor Contracts: Before you sign on the dotted line…

I’ll be honest in March of 2000 when I embarked upon my donor egg cycle I made a mistake. I was afraid, intimidated, and overwhelmed by the whole process.  The idea of accepting someone else’s genetics to create my family seemed so “out there” – Star Trekish I guess?  So when the agreement between myself and the clinic was presented to me stating my cycle would be completely anonymous I didn’t question it.  The notion of knowing my egg donor, seeing her face, or oh my god having a “relationship” with her was just so over the top – no way. 
I felt so strongly about this I found myself saying “I don’t want her face taking up my head space”  “I am the only mother my child will need”  “All I did was receive a cell from her, that’s all everything else is all on me” 
And while the above is true my insecurities are making decisions for my child’s right to know his origins, it’s not right.  It took me a while to become confident and secure in who I was as my child’s mother.  Once I was there the whole not genetically related component quietly faded into the woodwork.  What was left – doing the right thing by my son, led by his direction regarding information and what kind of connection if any he might want with his egg donor.
I used to think when I’d read the writings of those kids born from donor sperm say they felt that half of their identity was missing that they were being overly dramatic or  experiencing classic teenage angst.  But the reality is even though it’s just a strand of DNA – it really is “their” DNA, it’s their strand, it makes up genetically half of who they are.  For them to want to know that piece is really okay.  And it should be. 
It’s not up to me to deny him that.
Over the years the conversations with my son about his origins have been many.  Mostly funny, always poignant and meaningful – I marvel at how much I learn from my child each and every time we talk about the donor aspect of his life.
For those that know me, allowing someone else to lead the way or direct a path that needs to be followed is so foreign to me for I have always been the take charge; lead the way kind of a person. This has been truly a humbling experience because for once it’s not all about me. 
It’s about my child and his needs.
In the beginning when he first began to comprehend his story he was fascinated with coming from a magic egg and having an “Angel Lady” help his mamma have a baby.  As he got older he began to as more questions about his egg donor.  He wanted to know what she was like, and I couldn’t tell him.  The only information I had was what was on a profile that was given to me when we selected her.  My son also wanted to know what she looked like. “Do I look like her mom?”  “I wonder if we look alike.” He now wonders if she is a nice person.  He wonders what her parents are like or what her siblings are like.  Really, all very normal questions for a kid his age to have. He wonders about his English and Norwegian heritage.  All things I can’t really tell him about because I don’t have the information.
Not knowing this information I don’t think is going to make or break him as a little boy, or damage him as he grows into adulthood but looking back on “all of this” I wish if I could change one thing it would be that I didn’t make my choices out of fear.  I wish that I had met her, or at least had the ability to contact her at a later date.  As it stands now that might never happen and we are at the mercy of our clinic – and it’s our hope they just approach our donor, ask her if she’d like contact on some level, and most importantly allow her to make that decision, not the clinic make that decision for her.
So what’s my point to all of this?  Make sure you have made up your mind in regard to donor contact and make a plan.  If you aren’t sure what you want, at least give yourself options.  Sign up with the Donor Sibling Registry.  Have your donor sign up with the donor sibling registry.  That way you both can have contact on your time table, and at your comfort level.  You won’t have a clinic or agency making those choices for you. And you won’t find yourself “shoulda” “woulda” or “coulda-ing” yourself to death. 
You owe it to yourself and your child – make a plan.