Welcome to ASK AN EGG DONOR™ – excerpts from my monthly, chatty column where you’re invited to ask me anything about egg donation. (You can read my full column each month here.) If we need an expert medical opinion, I’ll put on my journalist hat and ask. That said, please note this column is not a substitute for medical or legal advice. Got a question? Email them to me or ask them in the comments!
Why did you decide to donate when you chose not to start your own family?
My husband Jon and I greeted all the usual milestones with friends: college, 21st celebrations, weddings, babies – oh, except the last one. We chose not to have children, but we absolutely feel and see the joy that children bring their parents, as well as their whole extended family. We love fussing over little ones–we just didn’t feel that pull to have our own. Our close friends, Angela and Steve, were dealing with infertility and we saw the grace and dignity with which they navigated their journey. Here we were, discarding an egg each month that we didn’t value, which they could value very much instead. We offered to donate, and they now have a daughter, Rachael. Five years later, a different friend asked us to donate, and Kate and Thomas now have Sam.
‘Tis the season of cheer… really? I want to scream and cry at being swamped by images of happy families gathered around Holiday tables and children unwrapping gifts.
I can only imagine how this time of year feels for you, as you long to start your own family and your own traditions. Friends tell me they use several approaches to ease the discomfort: some forward their gifts ahead of time and join everyone in time for the meal; they find it a little easier to sidestep all the excitement and wrapping paper flying in the air. Call time-out with a walk around the block if it all becomes too much. A few impose their own media blackout (not easy, I know) and binge-watch their favorite shows in the days prior, for respite from the constant ads and jingles. Others might prefer to volunteer at a meal for the homeless as a worthwhile way to redirect their energy. My neighbor sticks to online shopping to avoid the malls and the lines to see Santa. My wish for you is a little breather, encouraging news on the medical or paperwork front, and renewed hope for your path to parenthood, whatever form that might take. Here‘s to joyful news in the new year, if not sooner.
I was shocked to find a brochure about being an egg donor in my daughter’s room. She graduates college next year and thinks the extra money could really help. All I can think is: somewhere I’ll have a grandchild I’ll never hold. I have to say something.
This can be especially hard for mothers of potential donors; this is not how you pictured things would be. I appreciate you are coming from a place of love and protection, but try to hold back a moment. Don’t catch her in the hallway and launch a barrage of questions; let her know you respect she is an adult, and you’d really appreciate making a time to sit down and talk it through. As tempting as it will be, try to hold back on the “shoulds” and give her the gift of non-judgmental, active listening. Mirror back what she is saying. For example, “What I’m hearing is …” and let her clarify. If she remains determined, you can help her research the clinic, checking if the doctors are board-certified etc. In time, she might need your help to compile a family medical history. Given your daughter’s age and stage, you are entering a new phase in your relationship. Maybe she will donate, maybe she won’t, but either way, the approach you adopt now will set the tone for how you relate moving forward.
We’re thinking of asking my adult niece to be our egg donor. How do we go about it?
As I’m sure you appreciate, it’s an important issue that deserves careful consideration. While I respect your niece is an adult and can make her own decisions, you might like to first raise the idea with your sibling. You don’t mention whether your niece has started/completed her own family, or plans to have her own children. There’s several important relationships to consider here, and many dynamics at play. If your niece eventually decides to donate, will your sibling consider the child his/her grandchild? Meaning: would you be given the space and freedom to parent in your own style? A donor within the family certainly brings advantages, but consider investing in a few sessions of joint counseling to ensure key players have a chance to air their feelings and to better explore how this might play out in the short and longer term.
Photo credit: Marco Raaphorst.