An Open Letter To The Media Regarding Egg Donation
As a mother via egg donation I am having an extraordinarily tough time understanding why you continue to attempt to sensationalize, dramatize, and over exaggerate the topic of egg donation.
First of all, egg donation is just a different way of creating or adding to one’s family. The way the media depicts egg donation is often as if it’s something from another planet, or that we are part of some secret society – the salacious and often scandalous way egg donation is written about (If it weren’t so ridiculous) would almost be insulting.
And Diane Sawyer – shame on you! I expected more! When you ran your story about egg donation compensation all you could talk about was the high demand for those donors with specific physical features, or being intellectually gifted. You didn’t talk about the everyday families that receive the news they can no longer use their genetics to have a family and the struggles they face emotionally coming to terms with that. In fact, one of the ABC reporters/staffers posed as an egg donor candidate was supposedly told by an egg donation agency (after telling the agency what she looked like and perhaps how smart she was) that blondes moved fast and because of the college she went to she could command $25k per egg donor cycle and that’s what ABC focused on.
Ugh – This is the same, tired, worn out, old story – you are sending the WRONG message to the public.
And you know what really irks me about all of this? I have spent hours with various media outlets educating staffers and producers and other journalists about egg donation, about what intended parents look for in egg donors, why egg donors donate their eggs, the commitment that is required from an egg donor, why their role is so very important, those egg donors who are truly donating altruistically (yes there are many that do), compassionate egg donation, as well as egg donor compensation. I have also talked to the media about self-regulation within the industry, what might happen if the government would intervene, that there are no regulations regarding who can own and operate an egg donor agency, that anyone can slap up a sign and become “ABC Egg Donation, Inc”
I have shared countless times with the media how vulnerable intended parents are during this process, how important education is on the egg donor side as well as the intended parent side. When I speak to the media I talk to them about the real issues regarding egg donation – and I always leave them with this:
Egg donors are women – human beings first. They are patients second. They are egg donors third. That is the way it’s always been. Egg donors are not a commodity. They are not a means to an end. There is nothing dramatic, sensationalistic or salacious about any of that – its fact.
Another aspect to all of this that makes me crazy is that the media focuses and finds the egg donors who are truly in the minority who receive over $25,000 per egg donation cycle. That is not a fair representation of what really goes on in the field of egg donation. Why isn’t the media looking for those egg donors who are college students, or who work regular jobs that are choosing to become egg donors because for them it’s a way of helping another family while helping pay for school or save for a rainy day?
Now I get that those who aren’t afflicted by infertility might be interested in the whole egg donation thing – I too like the rest of the world am sick to death of the Medias portrayal of the egg donation industry. The whole mythology that eggs are for sale to the highest bidder is just nonsense.
The other piece to all of this that irritates me to no end is reading or hearing from the media that wealthy intended parents are really just having designer babies
Really? Designer babies? Come on.
I don’t blame the general public for thinking what they think – they are being spoon fed misinformation and that needs to stop. The truth is that all walks of life have infertility issues. 6.7 million people each year are afflicted with some form of infertility. To break it down simply – You are in a coffee shop with 100 people, at least 10 people in that coffee shop are infertility patients. That’s a lot of people.
Infertility doesn’t discriminate – you can be any skin color, race, creed, or sexual orientation. You can be fat, thin, skinny, or buff. You can be wealthy, middle class, or under the poverty level. You can be a smoker. You can be a non-smoker. You can be a drinker or a non-drinker. You can be a meat eater, vegan, a runner, or a couch potato. You can be religious or you can be an Agnostic or an Atheist. And there are those who have been stricken by Cancer, or some other illness that makes it impossible to use their own genetics to have a child. There are those who are born without ovaries, or eggs. There are those who have a genetic abnormality or condition that prevents them from having children with their own genetics that require the use of an egg donor – and finally there are those who have waited a long time to find a partner, or have worked to establish a career and who have discovered their age prohibits them from using their own genetics to have a child.
And while we are here – can we talk about the money aspect? This is expensive and in most states within the United States infertility treatment is considered elective treatment and is not covered by medical insurance. We don’t treat infertility like we do Cancer, Diabetes, or Cardiovascular Disease – and it should be. The majority of us aren’t millionaires who are able to just write a check without thinking twice — we work hard in our jobs just like everyone else does each day every day. When we are given the news that in order to have a family we need to use an egg donor one of the first things most worry about is how to pay for it. We save, we borrow (from family, friend, or our 401K). We take 2nd mortgages out on our house, we sell our things, we charge our credit cards, and many times we take a 2nd job. And again we worry – oh how we worry.
This whole process is often overwhelming, stressful and can be downright scary – and what we need from you the media is SUPPORT and EDUCATION not another sensationalistic story about the easy money egg donors earn for their eggs – or the whacky socialites who use egg donor to have children.
In closing – I want to make sure that everyone who reads this understands from my perspective how I feel personally about egg donation, and the egg donors who make our families possible.
“As a mother via egg donation egg donors of course are near and dear to my heart. Without our egg donors we wouldn’t have the amazing child we have that we love and cherish so very much.
Egg donors come from all walks of life – some are tall, while others are short. Some are athletically, artistically, musically, or intellectually gifted. Some are average intelligence. Some donors are physically beautiful. All donors have one thing in common which is – They are healthy on a physical level, a reproductive level, and an emotional level. Egg donors also have the desire to help other families who could not for a myriad of reasons have children with their own genetics (this could be caused by age, illness, premature ovarian failure, or some other genetic issue) while having the ability to be compensated for their time, effort, and inconvenience.
When intended parents look to an egg donor to help them create their family they are looking for someone who might have the same physical characteristics as themselves, or who might have gone to the same college, or who might possess the same artistic, athletic, or intellectual gifts as the intended mother. Most importantly, intended parents look to find an egg donor that they can connect with on some basic level – this helps make the process more personal.
When I selected my egg donor I connected with her because I liked the way she expressed herself in her profile. She had a delightful sense of humor, she came across as genuine and authentic. The kindness in her answers demonstrated that she had a joyful spirit and a kind heart. And I was right! I met her after my child was born and she possessed all of that and more.
I think most importantly the public should know that those of us who turn to an egg donor to create our families is that we don’t view egg donors as commodities or just a ways to a means. We have such high respect and regard for these young women – they are women first, patients second, and egg donors third.
Without them we wouldn’t have our children – and as I said above egg donors will always be near and dear to my heart – I can’t thank them enough.
My hope is that the media will take a moment and realize this is an opportunity to educate the masses about infertility and egg donation. Champion us like you have championed Breast Cancer, Diabetes, MS, Mental Health Issues, or Substance abuse.
But please stop portraying us as selfish freakish individuals with endless money who are looking to create designer children – We aren’t that – we are just like you and we want nothing more to become Moms and Dads.
Thank you –
Marna Gatlin, Founder,
Parents Via Egg Donation.
“Changing the world one baby at a time”