A letter from a recipient mother to the donor conceived.
I belong to a Facebook group where donor conceived kids and adults via egg donation, sperm donation as well as embryo donation mingle egg donors, sperm donors as well as recipients like me. It can become heated very quickly. Lively conversations have become down right nasty which is a shame because the opportunity for deep meaningful dialogue is right at our fingertips – but because the topic is so tender and delicate and sensitive all of that often gets lost. Then before you know it tempers flare and the fighting begins. Nothing is accomplished but hurt feelings and it’s really a shame.
One very wise donor conceived individual made a very prolific post about being donor conceived. As a donor conceived individual he shared his perspective on what he see’s occurring in this group and he gave amazing explanations and suggestions on how we can all come together and learn from one another instead of being defensive and adversarial.
I thought it was a fabulous post. I have redacted his name to protect his privacy.
Here is my post to them:
Hi there – Because (***) shared his point of view I felt it important that I share my perspective of a parent via egg donation – and hopefully bridge the gap that we may have with some of the donor conceived children/adults in this group, because from my perspective I’m all about collaboration, and participating in a community that can recognize and respect the view points from all of its community members and offer support even if you don’t agree.
Now before I get started I am sharing from a mom via egg donation perspective because I don’t have any experience with sperm donation. It’s not the route that my partner and I took, and I recognize the dynamics are different.
The majority of recipient mother’s always had the vision of being mothers. Some like me have been planning on being a mom from the time they were old enough to know what a mommy what was. In fact, some like myself knew exactly how many kids they wanted, if they want girls or boys, what time of the year they would like them to be born, and their names.
But that’s not how it turned out. The majority of us have been trying earnestly to become parents for many many years. The trek through the jungle of infertility has been absolutely brutal. We’ve undergone oodles of tests, injections, procedures, medications, diets, supplements, endless doctor appointments, acupuncture, you name it we’ve done it in the name of infertility to try to have a baby.
For some of us we were born without ovaries or damaged ovaries that prevents us from using our genetics. For others we are DES daughters – and we suffer the side effects and abnormalities that come from a drug our own mothers took while they were pregnant with us to prevent miscarriage. Then there are those of us who are cancer survivors who lost the ability to conceive because of chemotherapy and radiation, and last but not least many of us have been diagnosed with premature ovarian failure or diminished ovarian reserve for a myriad of reasons and just will never be able to conceive with our own genetics.
Many of us have been judged. “You waited too long to try to have a baby. You put your career before motherhood.” Or “ why can’t you get with the program and just find a nice man to marry and have a baby with – it’s not that hard.”
“It’s God’s will that you were not meant to bear children. You need to accept your fate.”
Or the “just phrases”-
“ just adopt”
“ just foster”
“ just raise- kittens, puppies, horses…”
“ just get a hobby”
“ just accept your fate and live child free- and travel.”
We’ve heard them all. They are hurtful and extraordinarily shaming.
Infertility itself is just so fucking brutal. It’s hard to articulate what it does to an individual inside and out. I try super hard not to wear it like a badge but I can tell you it’s changed me forever. And unless you experience first hand you can’t understand what it’s like – just like I’ll never understand what it means it feels like to be donor conceived.
I myself have experienced nine individual losses – and by the time I had my son many thought I was either the most determined, dedicated, individual they’ve ever met on the planet or just motherfucking crazy. Maybe I was a little bit of both.
What I can tell you is that when women like myself come to a point of even thinking about accepting the help from an egg donor to build their families it’s not a decision that has been easily or lightly made. Its a decision that was made through weeks, months, and even years of thought, introspection, worry and sometimes agony.
And let me tell you when I say we worry and agonize we do – we worry about pretty much everything. We worry if we are going to be good parents. We worry if society will be kind and accept our kids. We worry if our children are going to reject us and not like us because we are not genetically related to them. We just worry.
And so we hear that we are selfish because we want to become mothers and we want to parent.
I used to deny that for a very long time. You know what – you’re right I am selfish. I wanted to be a mother more than anything. I wanted a child to love and to feel the love. I wanted a child to know they were wanted – I wanted a child to have a wonderful, incredible and an amazing life.
So here we are today. We recipient mothers are here to learn about what we do not understand. We are not donor conceived- we do not understand your feelings but we are here to try, to empathize, to support, and learn.
We came here not to change your minds – but to share with you a little bit of our journey. We came here looking for support as well – even if you don’t agree with our choices. We come here to learn from all of you, even if some if your stories are sad and hard to hear.
We don’t come here to fight with you. We don’t come here to be judged or to feel guilty. We feel enough guilt on our own- trust me. We don’t come here to judge you.
And believe it or not what we learn from you will help us to become better parents.
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to have a dialogue.