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.