Tuesday, August 05, 2008

An Easter Bunny, moi?

Lately, I've been toying with the idea of being an egg donor. Let me
stress the word 'toying', nothing is decided yet and there are many
hurdles on the way.

When our first round of IVF crash landed so spectacularly (10 eggs, 0 embryos)
I panicked. Sure, the RE assured me we had a good chance with ICSI,
but I was too crushed to believe him.
I couldn't help but think two steps ahead. More failed cycles, the
donor route, adoption?

If it had come to that, I would have pursued the egg donor route. Now
that we've lucked out so immensely with ART, I feel I ought to at
least consider being an egg donor. So I'm considering.

The first hurdle is the easiest: age. Most clinics in my state accept
women under 35, which means I have a few years left. Sooner is better
than later of course.

Next is the question of anonymity. In my state, almost all clinics
have a strict policy of anonymous egg donorship. If a couple brings
their own donor, they do something called cross donation. Couple A's
donor's eggs are used for couple B and vice versa, ensuring anonymity
between donor and recipient.

The main argument for anonymity is that donation from a family or
friend can seriously strain the relationship. Disagreements about
parenting choices, a continuing expectation of gratefulness, or just
plain old falling out... Anonymity prevents such unpleasantness
(which I'm sure can be rather devastating to whom it happens!).
Anonymity also protects the donor from the emotional fall-out of
something going wrong with the pregnancy or in case the child is born
with a genetic birth-defect.

The problem is that the advantages of this scenario are for the donor
and recipient, the adults making the choices, while the disadvantage
are for the yet-to-be-born child. That makes me uncomfortable.
I won't presume to judge those who go the anonymous donor route. I
would probably have gone this route, if no other were available
practically to me.

From what I've read, I understand that many children who are adopted,
conceived by donor gametes, or otherwise raised separated from their
biological parents become curious about their biological parent(s) at
some point. I can imagine I would be curious too.

A compromise is 'registered donorship'. The donor is anonymous towards
the recipient, but once the child reaches a certain age, it can get in
touch with the donor if he or she wants to.
It's a scary thought, that you give someone a few cells and 18-odd
years later a youngster comes knocking demanding to know why you did
that. Scary, but overall it seems like the most fair to all involved.

There's one clinic that I know of that does known donorship, though
they strongly advise anonymous or at least cross donation. I don't
know if they do registered donation, but I'm trying to get in touch
with them.

The third hurdle is much more difficult: talking it over with DH.
So far, I haven't pitched the idea to him, not so much as a hint.
Actually, I figured I wouldn't qualify anyway because of our history
of A.R.T. When I called my RE to ask, he said that wasn't necessarily
a problem.

I don't think my husband would like the idea, because there are a few
reasons that I'm not sure I like the idea. If the (hypothetical)
donation leads to the intended result, Linnea would have one or even a
few half-siblings out there that we know nothing about (in the
anonymous scenario not even their existence).
In theory, that doesn't bother me, but I can't help from B-movie
scenario's popping into my head. You know the kind, siblings split at
birth (make that conception) meet later in life to become star-crossed
lovers. The odds of that actually happening in real life are small,
but that doesn't mean it won't keep me awake at night. It doesn't help
that I've seen not one but two human interest programs about just this
happening (separation by adoption). Someone even found a catchy name
for the phenomenon 'genetic sexual attraction' (GSA).

Getting such farfetched ideas into your head is much easier than
getting them out again. Given enough cases of siblings first meeting
each other as adults, there's bound to be a few who fall madly, deeply
in love. That's not a phenomenon, that's human nature. And if it were
common, it wouldn't be the stuff of human interest programs. Last of
all, the information available on GSA is a little thin.

Maybe I'm worrying about this to mask the fact that I'm uncomfortable
with the idea of someone else raising 'my' offspring. To be an egg
donor, and not live to regret it, you have to be able to let go
completely. How do you square that with leaving the door open for the
child in question to find out about you? The motivation to do that is
a sense of responsibility towards a child you're supposed to have
nothing to do with.

You know what they say, "donate in haste, repent at leisure". Perhaps
survivor's guilt is not such a good basis for becoming an egg donor as
it would seem.

ETA: The clinic called me back, they've never done registered donorship before and no one has ever asked. The nice lady suggested I make an appointment with their psychologist to discuss the possibility of donating anonymously.
Was she trying to tell me I'm nuts for not wanting anonymity? ;-) Just kidding, she wasn't pressuring me in the least, and talking it over with a psychologist seems like a sensible step to take. Her waiting list is long though.


At 05 August, 2008 02:07, Blogger Heather said...

I've often debated the same thing with myself. In theory, it sounds wonderful to give back to the community...but could I truly let go? I'm not sure.

I wish you the best with making such a hard decision.

At 05 August, 2008 16:04, Blogger Angie said...

I think you are a truly wonderful person for debating such a decision. I have thought of donating eggs myself, but just in a brief moment. Good luck to you.

At 05 August, 2008 23:02, Blogger Hopeful Mother said...

I've been thinking about what to do with our "leftover" embryos and toying with the idea of donation, even though I'm not sure I could "let go," as you say. And I haven't mentioned it to my husband.

I'll be interested to read more about your decision-making process...

At 06 August, 2008 01:50, Blogger OvaGirl said...

Yes I agree it's great that you are even considering the idea. But ...what an emotional minefield, good luck with your decision making.

At 06 August, 2008 19:44, Blogger lucky #2 said...

Wow -- what a generous thought to even consider blessing another family with that gift. I would think the psychologist would be a smart appointment.

At 08 August, 2008 06:28, Blogger soralis said...

Good luck with your decision. I still can't even think about my extras.

Take care

At 09 August, 2008 05:48, Blogger Bea said...

One of those "sounds obvious til you get there" scenarios. Good luck talking it over. I know it'll be a good decision for all concerned, whether or not you decide to go ahead, because of your deep consideration of it.


At 10 August, 2008 02:54, Blogger Sparkle said...

I think it's great you are considering this idea.
I think it is a pity you can't take the known donor route - in fact I think it's incredible you can't.
It seems that once people have decided that they can become a donor they have also realised that they aren't donating or giving away a child - merely giving a couple the possibility of one - the rest is up to them.
Our donor is now so proud of being a donor she tells everyone - and she's going again for us!

At 13 August, 2008 16:33, Blogger Sassy said...

I've nominated you for The Pink Rose Award. The details are on my blog. You don't need to pass it on, I just wanted to let you know.

At 22 August, 2008 02:33, Blogger WonderMama said...

Wow, what a big thing to consider. There are so many facets to think about!
Good luck in your decision. I think its amazing you're even considering donating!

At 30 August, 2008 16:47, Blogger Sara said...

Wow. What an amazing decision to have to make. I like to think that I would do it, but I have the kind of family health history that made me realize even in my 20's that nobody in their right mind would choose me as their donor. I think you're smart for giving it some time and really exploring your feelings before you go any further. Good luck making a decision.

At 04 September, 2008 22:51, Blogger Isabel said...

If you can donate and you're considering it, you are already my hero. Whatever happens next won't erase that.

At 06 September, 2008 22:29, Blogger katty said...

that's incredibly generous of you...

I am also amazed that you can't donoate as a known donor - in the UK by law you can only donate if you are willing to be contacted by the child - or have your identity released to the child - when that child turns eighteen (and if they so request). In my view, this is the only ethical way to go. It seems to me not to be in the interests of the child to do it any other way. All the research so far shows that this is the best for donor conceived children - and if they are not intersted in finding out about hte donor at least you, the donor, have given them the optio to choose.

Of course I understand why some people use anonymous gametes - I would never say never myself, as I know that if that was all that was available I could very well have done the same. Yet, despite this, I think it is morally wrong for the state to allow completely anonymous donation.

At 06 September, 2008 22:30, Blogger katty said...

also, i would think of that child is mine in some deep genetic sense, and I would want to see that child when they were older.

At 16 September, 2008 14:48, Blogger The Broken Man said...

What a difficult decision. Thinking of you as you try and make it.

The Broken Man


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