My thoughts about donating eggs changed now that I'M a mom

May 11 | Guest post by RachelT
By: jerrylai0208CC BY 2.0

My little boy will have a little baby sibling this summer. He will be a big brother and I will get to witness the ups and downs of their relationship from the start. They will share a room and toys and our attention. They may be best friends, or not. They will have similarities and they will have differences, and I will catch myself comparing and contrasting them daily, I’m sure.

The thing is, there is another one… There is a little boy out there that is their half-brother that they may never meet. The only glimpse of him I’ve had is a phone picture of a phone picture when he was about six months old, in a snowsuit. I know very little about him aside from the fact that he has parents that wanted him more than anything. I donated my eggs to them in 2008. They know quite a lot about me, I know nothing about them.

I was 22 when I embarked on this journey. After years of interest in the idea of egg donation I saw a classified ad in a local publication of a couple looking for egg donor. I matched their expectations, and I went for the preliminary health screening and questioning at the couple’s clinic. Then was moved along for a info session and psychological screening. Nothing fazed me much, but I think back on the screening often now.

I was asked a question that didn’t seem to matter at the time: How would you feel if you donated to this couple and they had a child and then you were unable to conceive in the future? At the “mature” age of 22 I had no interest in having biological children. I was already married and my wife wanted children, but we were both comfortable with the idea of adoption or she would carry. At 22 I was quick to respond that this was not an issue for me; having biological children was not important.

A funny thing happened during that donation cycle. While my body was pumped full of hormones and many follicles in my ovaries matured for the purpose of giving another woman an chance to be a mother, part of me changed as well. For the first time in my life I had a desire to be pregnant. I started to think about carrying a child and being a mother in a very different way. Dialogue began between my wife and I and our plans for future parenthood took a different path. She was relieved that I would be interested in carrying because, while she was willing, it wasn’t top on her list of interest.

At 26 we embarked on journey to conceive. We did 6 intrauterine insemination cycles (five of which were medicated). At the end of this the doctor had no clue why it wasn’t taking. I responded well to the drugs, I had high quality eggs, I was young. There was no answer but there were a couple options… We could continue on the road we were taking or we could try In Vitro Fertilization. I wasn’t scared of IVF because I had been through the worst of the procedure as a donor. We decided to go for it. It failed for some unexplained reason.

It was at this point that my mind was racing. I feared exactly what I had discredited just a few years ago. What if there was a biological child out there from my eggs but I would never have the option of raising a biological child? What if it was the fact that I had helped another couple that I couldn’t help myself? Why wasn’t Karma on my side?

Shortly after the failed attempt we were successful at home with a “fresh donation” from a friend of a friend and self-insemination. I don’t have to necessarily worry about those questions anymore, but I have different ones now.

No part of me regrets the decision I made to be an egg donor, but I regret how I went about it, and the contract I locked myself into. I regret not requesting an open donation. I did not understand the gravity of my decisions; I believed I was mature and now I look back and feel like I was just a kid. This psychological screening checked in on a version of me I can no longer relate to, and the impact of egg donation on my life is tremendously different than I anticipated it being.

I will compare my children and notice their similarities forever, and, at this point, I wonder if I will ever stop wondering about the little boy out there. I wonder if I will get over my curiosity about his personality and facial expressions. Will he face similar challenges to my own children? Will he excel in the same areas? When the child is older he has access to my information (if his parents share it with him) and he could get in touch with me. My questions may be answered some day but there is an equal chance I will never know and my children will have missed out on the opportunity to know this person that has half of the same genes.

  1. Thank you for writing this! I've never seen a post from someone talking about egg donation years after the fact. It's really interesting to see how it affects your view of yourself as a mother. I hope you find peace with your questions.

    "Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer." — Rainer Maria Rilke

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  2. Really enjoyed reading this article! I'm donor-conceived and all the questions you bring up are things I often wonder if my "genetic father" ever thinks about.

    I wonder if he ever considers the fact that there is someone out in the world who shares half his DNA. He was 20 years old when he donated sperm and would be almost 50 now. I'm so curious what impact donating had on his life – if it was very little or very much. If he has children of his own now I have to imagine it must have increased or changed somehow. I most likely will never know.

    When he donated and filled out the cryobank's questionnaire they asked if he would like to pass on a message to the recipients of his sample to which he replied "Live a long happy life and don't forget where you come from." To which I say – trust me, I won't! 🙂

    Thanks again for sharing your story!

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    • Thanks for reading!
      I'm sure he does think about it. Hopefully he is at peace with his decision.
      Closed donations are so challenging because if both sides are curious it can still be almost impossible to connect.
      I'm so glad that we used an open sperm donor and that we can make sure that both sides have the opportunities that make them feel more whole (hopefully).

      • Closed donations are challenging! My cryobank did make a note that I'm open to contact so if he ever decides to respond to them they'll facilitate the communication a bit in the beginning. It's a slim chance but one I'm thankful to have.

  3. Interesting….I donated eggs a few years ago, but was informed under no uncertain terms that I wouldn't have any ties to the child produced (if successful), and the couple who received my eggs wouldn't have any info on me, so no chance I'd ever even see a photo of a photo of a kid with half of my genetics. I thought that was a federal rule, but maybe it's something mandated by each fertility clinic? I donated in WA, USA, if that makes a difference.

    My experience was completely opposite of yours in many ways. Including, unfortunately, that my eggs didn't take. 🙁

    • I was informed of a lot but how I processed that information was differently than I process it now. It's so much easier to agree to something you don't understand the implications of. I think I'm responsible for the choice I made and I own that but I also think that clinics need to take responsibility for the fact that they are in a powerful position and research needs to be done about the implications on individuals/families/bodies etc.

  4. My view on donation definitely changed after having a child.

    Before it was "Wow, money!" and "Help loving families who actually want children to have children!" and "Be a part of the circle of life!"…not that I ever actually considered it, but I'd see postings for it while job hunting and engage in a what-if thought experiment.

    Now that I've been up close with the whole bringing-a-child-into-the-world thing, I cannot, in good conscience, participate in bringing a child into the world that I have no ability to care or advocate for, protect, or nurture; I don't believe you can relegate that responsibility. I believe I have a duty to that child. And I believe that children have the right to their family, their history, and their genetic heritage.

    It is interesting how parenthood changed my perceptions of my obligation toward the thought-experiment child.

    Another factor in changing my mind is that my mother refused to give me any contact or identifying information for my brothers for years and years, and only Facebook ended the open, aching yearning that was my heart looking for my family.

    Finally, coming in contact with many adopted and foster children made me realize how much people yearn to connect with their biological family: to uncover and build their identity, to find their place in the world, to discover who they are in context of their whole history.

    I experienced some of this when I discovered, IN MIDDLE SCHOOL, that I was Hispanic, that my mother's side of the family was Hispanic; I felt robbed of my identity and history and legacy. I still feel like an imposter to something that was my birthright and I don't know how to navigate it for my child. If I was never 'authentically' Hispanic, can he possibly be?

    It looks like this hits deeply for me.

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    • I find it interesting that you believe children have a right to their family history and genetic heritage. That would never have occurred to me as something to consider.

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      • I definitely think children have a right to their genetic history & especially medical history. As donor-conceived, I understand my donor gave anonymously and has the right to not be contacted by offspring. However, I think donors of any kind should be required to provide updated medical info every so many years. So much can change from when you're 20 and donate. You may gain more knowledge about medical history in your family or you may go through some things yourself that would be really nice/helpful for any offspring to be aware of.

        12 agree

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