Thursday, February 5, 2009

A few more answers about having a donor egg baby

I am finally getting back to answer the questions asked in my delurking post. Please see the rules at the beginning of this post before continuing.

JenniferK asked:

How important was it that the donor look like you? Were there certain characteristics you would have insisted on? Why? Now that you're on the other side do you think a resemblance is more or less important than you thought it was then?
The look of the donor wasn't really that important to me. I wanted someone close enough that it wasn't obvious that our child was conceived in a less than traditional way. I was much more concerned in finding someone who matched in personality. In terms of personality, I thought if I could find someone I could be friends with than it was probably a good match. The only thing I insisted on was that she liked to dance. Quite by accident our donor does look quite a bit like me. You can see a picture of us on this early post. I'm the one on the right.

I don't think I have changed my mind in this. I have lots of friends who don't look anything like me, yet we have much in common. Off the top of my head, I can't think of a single friend where we don't have similar interests, views, intelligence, etc. I wanted to make my relationship with our child(ren) as easy as possible. One of my early childhood experiences with adoption, my very conservative aunt adopted a very wild redhead. I thought their relationship was strained because of the difference. I don't know if that was really this issue for them or how their relationship is now, but it gave me someplace from which to start. Now, I look and act a lot like my mother, but we agree on almost nothing, so you never know.

Squarepeg asked:

How often do people comment that LB looks or doesn't look like you? Your DH? How to you answer or handle the comment/question?

When/how to you plan to share LB's story with her?

I don't get that comment very often. Everyone knows she is not my genetic child so they probably didn't feel comfortable saying it even if they thought it.
There were times, early on, when I longed to have people say that LB looked like me. I have, on occasion, had strangers make that comment and it wasn't really satisfying. In my head I always thought, "Well, she doesn't. Not really." I did have one humorous occasion where a very lively waiter kept looking between Brad and I trying to peg where LB got her eyes. First it was me, then "no, it is your husband" and back again. We were dining with friends so it was fun to share this inside joke. It left the waiter completely baffled.

As time has gone on, I have changed the way I have answered the question. I'm still not quite comfortable with my response. With strangers, I just say, "Thanks." or "Do you think so?" or something equally non-committal and polite. With family members, I have said, "But she doesn't." or when that didn't feel right, "Really? You think so?" but that doesn't quite work either. I'm touched that they keep looking for similarities between me and LB (both in terms of appearance and personality) and forcing the issue when I deny responsibility.

As for telling - early and often. Well, not overly often. I don't want to make LB's conception a big deal, but I want it to be part of her story. I understand if you tell a child before she is 4 she will never remember being told so it will definitely be before then. I imagine telling her about her conception the way other parents tell children about their birth - lots of happy images and making her sound like the most special kid on the planet (which, of course, she is!). As she gets older, I will throw in more details because at first I'm sure she won't understand what it really means to be the product of a donated cell even if she knows about it. That's the plan anyway. We shall see how it turns out.

Julia asks:

I find that while I adore my baby girl to pieces, I still do wish that she were genetically mine. And not because I wish she were different in any way, just because there's all this stuff that goes along with it that I am sometimes not sure I am strong enough to deal with. This is all such new territory. Does that make sense? Do you ever feel like that?

I absolutely feel like that sometimes. When she was new and still pretty generic, I found I still wished I could go back in time and redo everything. Maybe if we went right to an RE, we would have never conceived a soon-to-be-dead baby. Maybe we would have had a successful IVF right out of the gate. I would love to have erased the heartache, pain and regrets in my life. Now that she is more of a little person, it isn't so easy. If someone came to me right now and said that I could go back in time and be guarateed a (relatively) easy conception and birth of healthy babies (2 please, 1 at a time) I might be tempted. It would probably all sound very good until the moment when I would hold LB for the last time. I would have to say good-bye and know that I would be un-making her and un-knowing her. I wouldn't do it. I love her too much. She is the child I want to see grow up.

One other revelation I had recently on this subject. Originally I had asked my younger sister to donate her eggs (she wasn't comfortable with the idea). I felt that her genes would be my genes, just a circuitous route. I have three sisters and we are all very much alike although we are also quite different in important ways. I don't recall what brought it up, but I was reminded that I might have used my sister's eggs. "Oh!, " I said as I held LB tighter, "I'm glad she doesn't have my sister's genes!" It sounded odd even to my ears because I was sure I wanted LB to have my genes and I was sure my genes were the same as my sisters.

It is complicated sometimes and I don't know how I will handle every situation. Sometimes I worry about being strong enough too. Recently there was an anonymous comment pointing to a set of blogs against adoption, ART and donor gametes. It made me uncomfortable to think that LB wouldn't be happy with her conception in the long run. I know some adult children aren't, but there are also many adult children who are happy even though they were adopted or the product of donor gametes. My goal is to love unconditionally and help LB be a happy and well adjusted adult. I don't think her conception is as important as how we raise her. I do think it is important to be honest with her about that conception and I am glad we have a known donor in case she ever wants to meet her genetic contributor.


mo*reezy said...

thank you for this post. I am enlightened and appreciative.

Leah and Maya said...

If our kids could only realize how much we have wanted them and how much we did and would go thru for them, maybe when they are 30 they will appreciate it, or not I most people aren't very interested in their birth story, certainly with adoption or what have you ours will have interest, but if they could only realize the longing for them, and the happiness when they finally came.

singletracey said...

Thanks so much for answering the questions!!! I love reading about how you handle and think of things :-)

battynurse said...

Great post. I know that my plan even when I was using donor sperm and my eggs was to tell early and often. I think this is really important. I too have seen the sites that are written by ART children who are resentful of their beginnings. And while to some extent I can maybe understand their resentment especially if they weren't told until they were older, I can't get past the whole concept of "hello, if your parents hadn't used ART you would not exist!! You wouldn't exist in some other realm with your true parents and a so much happier life for it, you would not exist" I've refrained from commenting to that effect.
Reading this does leave me with a question though. You have a known donor. Was she someone you had always known or how did you meet her? How do you feel about the known donor part of it? Just curious since I'm leaning towards the known donor route.

Peeveme said...

I am so enjoying you posts and in so much agreement with where you are with all of this. Well, I'm not "there" yet (still pregnant) but I have been thinking about all these things as well. It's so nice to not feel alone.

Sky said...

Kami, your honesty is going to be the glue that holds you and LB together far more than genes ever could, you'll see.

I'd never seen the picture of Belinda until this post's link. OMG! She really really really does look like she's your sister. Wow!

Lisa DG said...

I so appreciate your candidness. It helps many of us on our journeys.

I guess I wish you had said it was a total non-issue after LB was born. There is a part of me that knew that probably would not be the case. Still, I can feel the love you feel for her and know I can have that freedom too- somehow, someway.

Lisa said...

Thanks for this post, Kami! I just had a pretty harsh discussion with a friend last night (FWIW, this friend is single but went through ER to freeze eggs. She's two years younger than me an got 35 eggs, 21 of which were good to freeze - I didn't get anywhere close to that after 4 ER's).

First, she totally doesn't get the genetic feelings that I have and actually asked me if my struggle was because I wanted a "mini-me". It's hard to explain to someone who doesn't get it that it is absolutely not about my child having my dimples or curly hair.

Then, she said (again, she has absolutely no context for this statement) that after I have a baby via DE I will realize that the old door, the one that was outside the room that contained my genes, was closed and this way was for the better and that I'll be glad it worked this way. She actually said I'd be glad!

I told her that I would NEVER get over not having a genetically-linked to me child, but, that that disappointment would, in no way, diminish my love for a child conceived of DE.

She, and so many others just can't and won't get it. She reads my blog, so, I can't post any of this - THANK YOU for letting me get it out!!

Frenchie said...

I really love your honesty and open-ness with these questions. It is very interesting and enlightening. As an adoptive parent I think about these
genetic "questions" a lot. I feel the exact same way you do about going back in time and changing things--if it meant NOT having my son, I couldn't do it, even if it meant I could have had the genetic child I'd longed for.

Julia said...


Thank you for your opennes and honesty. I wish that you lived nearby and I could hang out with you. And your little LB and my little DD could hang out together.

I read your blog and wish I had your strength sometimes. While I plan on telling DD, the words haven't left my mouth yet. It still hurts. I figure I've got time. I went to that link some anon posted and it really bummed me out. It's reading things like that that that make me sad and question my decision. I love her dearly though and I guess that's all I can do now.

Anyway thanks again.

Belinda Jokinen said...

Ladies and gentlemen--this statement "It would probably all sound very good until the moment when I would hold LB for the last time. I would have to say good-bye and know that I would be un-making her and un-knowing her. I wouldn't do it. I love her too much. She is the child I want to see grow up." Statement such as this, proving the amazing people who graced me with the blessing of assisting their child in becoming -in the flesh, loved and wanted- not all beings feel such love or acceptance. LB does and will. Someday she will complain with friends how her parents make her wear a coat when it's cold (which she will remove when out of eyesight) or expect her to eat breakfast or something equally as ridiculous. She won't wonder why her parents don't care if she's cold or hungry. She expects that is their primary concern. Because it has been since her conception. She knows nothing less. And shouldn't have to. That is why I am proud to be a part of the Brad and Kami team. Cheers to the child they created. Loved and wanted.

Me said...

Thanks for pointing me to the post with the pic of you and Belinda. I wasn't reading your blog yet back then so I had never seen it. But I have read sooooo many posts about Belinda, it's nice to finally be able to put a face with a name. :)

Bee Cee said...

This post is great and hugely helpful. Thanks for putting this stuff out there for us still in limbo.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Hi ladies, I am so happy for you and for LB. She is blessed. Myself and my husband are going opting for a doner and are attending counselling as is obligatory. However, your posts are worth 100 sessions and I want to thank you. Donegal lady

Anonymous said...

I'm new to this conversation but it resonates on many levels. I was fortunate enough to conceive twins via egg donation over 3 years ago and there are two things I now know:
1) I would never wish for them to be genetically related to me because if they were they wouldn't be the gorgeous, fascinating people they are and who I have fallen deeply in love with. All I want in the whole wide world is these two amazing children, just as they are. Nobody else. So, if they ask me when they're older whether I would prefer it if we shared the same DNA I would say no, and be sure of it.
2)Our egg donor is unknown to us but not anonymous and if/when my children decide they want to make contact I will embrace and encourage it as it will complete an already beautiful picture. Her gift to us is immeasurable and perfect.

Kami said...

Thank you Anonymous for adding your thoughts to this post.

I love this line: Her gift to us is immeasurable and perfect.

Well said.

Anonymous said...

A direct genetic link is a loss with donor egg, but if people claim my child looks like me, I'll just say thanks and won't feel bad at all. We are related going way, way, way back. All human beings. So in a real way she (hoping for a girl) will be my daughter as all little girls are my daughter. I chose to look at it this way and if I'm delusional so be it.

marilynn said...

I reunite separated families for free and help many mothers and fathers separated from their kids through gamete donation agreements locate and make contact with them. I also help all the relatives of gamete donors locate their relatives who were lost to gamete donation. Always remember that any person who is not raised by/within their own bio family has suffered a loss and the family itself has suffered a loss as well. It's difficult work putting the families back together later on but it is rewarding in the long run. Luckily the author of this site has saved the child she's raising and her family from having to struggle with searching wondering. Credit goes to them all for having empathy and foresight to understand the implications of sequestering a person from their family - it is likely to breed resentment. Not that being given up by a bio parent is not enough to put a person in therapy but not knowing who they are or where they are or if they'd reject contact can be traumatic for those inclined to care.

One comment above was a woman who questioned the logic of people whose absentee parents were gamete donors. She wondered how someone could be what they call 'donor conceived' and also be against 'donor conception'. She's right, it does sound illogical but only because the fertility industry describes what happens with the wrong words. Sure, donors conceive. But time passes for them just like all human beings. Ultimately if they have offspring they'll become biological parents like every other person on earth that has offspring is a parent. Yes, they donate their eggs but let's be frank here, the content of their contract and the terms they agree to have far more to do with them giving up their offspring than their eggs. The contract is full of terms that state they agree to relinquish and abandon their parental rights and obligations to their children once they are born should any be born resulting from the reproductive services they offered as a service under contract. Look everyone knows that nobody would want their eggs or reimburse them for their time and trouble if they had not signed on the dotted line promising to give up their kids and parental title. So when we drop the charade about people being conceived differently and we realize these are simply people whose parents gave them up off line and under the table without a court approved adoption, it starts to make a lot more sense. When you read about donor offspring being upset, its not their conceptions they are upset about its their abandonment by their absent bio parent that pisses them off and the fact that their actions are by rights no different than any other black market adoption but the industry that trades in human life in this efficient way is so large and so powerful that our government ignores the human rights violations going on right in plain sight. Obviously people are selling their children and obviously people are buying them, they are just arranging for it all in advance the way one might by tickets in the winter to a concert later in the spring. Its not the ticket that people are buying, not the paper for papersake or ink's sake, it's what the ticket promises to get you into that's being bought. People are buying entry to the show buying the baby they'll deliver buying the parenthood they so greatly covet.