EGG DONOR’S ARE NOT COMING FOR YOUR CHILDREN- REALLY!
My phone has been busy this week and my email box is receiving a steady stream of email asking me if I had read “An Egg Donors Tale” featured in the New York Times. “What did I think? Should I be worried? Do most a lot of egg donors feel this way years later? My child doesn’t know, she I sit him or her down tonight and tell them? Have I done a bad thing by not telling them? I don’t know what to do – what should I do Marna?”
First of all – Mom’s and Dad’s let’s take a breath and breathe. I have news for you – Egg donors are not coming for your children – Really!
The article in the New York Times by Melanie Thernstrom titled “Meet The Twiblings” has caused quite a stir in both the 3rd party arena as well as the general population. It seems that the choices made by Melanie and her husband Michael are viewed as weird, odd, freaky, and self-serving.
Personally, I don’t find them any of the above. I just find them different. This was how this couple chose to create their family. And they shouldn’t be judged by that at all.
The article that caused even more of a stir was the follow up article titled an “Egg Donors Tale” written by an egg donor who was brave enough to share what she was feeling inside years later about her experience and vocalizing that while the egg donor cycle was a known cycle she didn’t agree with the recipient couple not to tell their children that this egg donor was indeed their egg donor. The egg donor also shared in her article:
“Fast-forward a decade. I have two children myself now, and while I think about the twins often, I have lost touch with the family. Partly this is because of the demands and exhaustion of parenting my own kids, but it is also because of my increasing ambivalence about the nature of my relationship to two people — one of whom looks remarkably like me — who came from my body and are making their way in this world. I have no doubt that their mother has been a loving, kind parent, and I obviously would never want to disrupt that relationship. However, I increasingly feel that the twins, who are now teenagers, have a right to know about their creation story — if not now, then when they are adults.
Why, you may rightfully ask? The obvious and easy answer is knowledge of certain medical conditions and their management that have occurred in recent years. More difficult to justify, but deeply felt, it seems that we should have the opportunity to develop a kind of mother-child relationship. On a side note, I believe this is precisely the situation Thernstrom fears, even if on a subconscious level (see her generous AND self-serving offer to pay for her donor to store fertilized eggs so she can be sure to have her own children someday). In technical terms, we are talking about new forms of kinship here (biological parent who does not give birth to or participate in daily parenting of child), but in other respects, many forms of parenting happen in our village every day, and without threat to the primary parent. The strong cultural valuation of the biological relationship is an understandable threat here, but this is not insurmountable, particularly for those of us who have already transgressed so many other barriers in an effort to bring these children into the world.”
That sentence jumped out and caused many DE mom’s to suck in their breath and say “Oh No She Didn’t! That’s MY kid she’s talking about! The egg donor donated eggs – she’s isn’t supposed to feel that way – right!?
Well maybe. Maybe not.
What we do know is that individuals have the ability to change their minds about how they feel during various times in their lives. One such issue I have found myself reminding recipient parents about is having expectations about their egg donor.
What does this mean?
It means that known donation cycles are fantastic. They really are – however, both parties need to be realistic in these expectations. I hear more often than not – “It’s all in the contract black and white our egg donor will agree to meet our kids when they turn 18, see it says so right here Marna.” I typically nod my head and say “Yes, yes it does, you are right it’s in the contract” However, recipients aren’t hearing and don’t want to hear that is egg donors can change their minds about the conditions under which they donated eggs.
I am specifically speaking about egg donors who agree to open donation and then perhaps change their minds later. Or an egg donor and a recipient couple agreeing to an anonymous donation and years later an egg donor wanting contact.
What would cause them to change their minds and decide they don’t want contact? Oh goodness, lots of things – a change in faith, a marriage, and of course time. 18 years is a long time for a person to make an agreement to something – and maybe the egg donor has gone off and had her own children, and not told her husband she donated eggs. She may have changed her faith, or just decided she really doesn’t want to have contact. It happens.
So if the above can happen why can’t a donor change her mind and become curious about those kids she helped create. I mean it could happen. To be perfectly honest we don’t really know as the oldest kids via egg donation are now 30 something and there haven’t been a lot of studies done on donor egg kids. However, studies have shown egg donors do sometimes wonder and get curious. Where does this leave you and me? Same place we were before folks. We are our children’s parents’ period. We are their Mom’s and their Dad’s. Egg donors don’t become egg donors so they can come take our kids. That’s crazy and ridiculous. Egg donors don’t become egg donors to become instant parents. Egg donors become egg donors for two reasons — #1 to help another woman become a mother because she can’t on her own or #2 to make money. There is absolutely nothing wrong with either of those reasons. It is what it is.
I don’t feel the egg donor in the NY Times article was nuts or crazy. I think after many years of her donation she began to have questions and thoughts about the two children she helped bring into the world. The article an Egg Donors Tale shows we can question reproductive decisions without regretting them. I think that she had different ideas about information those kids should have. I will even go as far as saying I think that maybe this egg donor has some boundary issues – let’s hope not, after all it’s up to those children’s parents to share with them their origins not an egg donor, even if it was an open donation.
However, I think you are all safe, – Egg donors are not coming for your children – I mean really.