Thursday, September 10, 2009

Thoughts about Anonymous Donation

I meant to write more about my second cycle tonight but felt I had to get something else off my chest first. Last night I dreamed that my parents announced to me, as an adult, that I had been conceived with the help of a gamete donor (it wasn't clear whether the egg or sperm was donated). Then it turned out that there was no way to track down or identify my donor. Speechless, I sensed a wave of existential nausea rise in my body, along with the slow realization that I had been cheated out of something really essential. Then I woke up, surprised by the dream and the depth of the nauseated feeling, which eerily persisted even after I got up to take a shower.

I find myself wondering whether I still really want to cycle with intended parents who are not clearly in the "tell" camp. For a long time, I did not seriously consider doing an open cycle, or even a semi-anonymous one, but I have been thinking lately about whether it's right on the part of intended parents and donor (often via a legal agreement) to deprive donor-conceived offspring of the option to explore their genetic relations. The more I think about it, the more I wonder to what extent it is ethical for two parties to enter into a legal agreement that deprives a third party, who is not a party to the contract, of knowing their genetic history / ancestry. I would not want this done to me and my dream rather forcefully hit this home.

Anonymity used to be one of the most important things for me when I first started to think about donating my eggs, but I really sense my feelings shifting on the subject lately. I am curious to hear how other people feel about this subject.


  1. Hello... found your blog through the NYTimes article today.

    I am a DE recipient, our due date is December of this year. (And don't worry, 99% sure I’m not one of yours, lol!) I second your thoughts on anonymous donation and the ethical questions therein.

    We are in the 'tell camp' -- although that does not mean we'll tell every Tom, Dick or Jane. We plan to tell carefully and selectively. I'm sure someone at some point will find out who I would have preferred did not know. But the option of concealing my child's origins is simply not an option for me or my husband. She will be free to know as much or as little as she wants, and that the donor is comfortable with. We even set up a private email address so that the two can contact each other in the future, if desired.

    I know a number of women who plan to completely conceal the fact that their child was donor conceived, or have already done so. It is 'politically correct' in the world of DE to support the parent's decision whether to tell or not. But I do not agree with this at all. How these parents can start their child's life with what is basically a lie is beyond me. I've heard a lot of reasons as to why they feel total anonymity is best, they have family situations that would not support a DE child, etc. Well, if your family situation is so toxic that you cannot be honest about how you conceived, should you really be having DE children in the first place?

    From what I can tell, as many as 60% of DE recipients do not tell their children or families how they were conceived. I find this really, really disturbing. Especially as the numbers of DE recipients seems to be increasing each year. If two DE-conceived children from no-tell families meet and fall in love... I shudder to think of the disasters and heartache that could arise from that situation. Last year there was a couple in Britain that planned to marry... until they found out that they were half-brother/sister (they'd been adopted at birth.) It is not that outlandish for it to happen.

    I believe you have the choice as to whether you will donate to no-tell parents or not, just as IPs have the right to choose anonymous donors or donors who are open to contact. Of course, there is a good faith element here that you simply have to take a leap of faith on. Even when people sign contracts, they don’t always do what they say they will do.

    I have been blogging about my pregnancy experience. If you’d like to read more about my story, you can follow me on: onwardandsideways (dot) wordpress (dot) com.

    Take care!

  2. Please read about all the research we've done with egg donation and people conceived via both donor sperm and eggs. What we have learned through the more than 25,000 donors, recipients and donor conceived on our website, is that many donor conceived people are extrenely curious about their genetic, ancestral and medical backgrounds. Most who find out (or who are told) the truth later in life feel a sense of betrayal about being lied to. And many have a strong desire to know their roots. For many parents it may only be a donated "cell", but for donor conceived people it is one half of their genetic identity.
    Our egg donor research will be published next month in the journal Human Reproduction- but a summary and all other research can be found on the "Research" page of our website.

  3. As a woman who used donor eggs to conceive her child, I'm glad to see more and more donors who are not willing to remain anonymous. I think it is important for a child born from gamete donation to know their genetic roots.

  4. I am a mother-to-be of a DE baby. My husband and I have agreed that our child will know the whole story and know how very much we wanted him or her. We did use an anonymous donor but wouldn't be opposed to meeting her someday. She gave us the greatest gift ever, the chance to have a family.

    Thank you for sharing the donor side of the story. I am very interested by it :)

  5. Thanks for great information you write it very clean. I am very lucky to get this tips from you

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  6. I found out when I was 18 that my Dad was not my biological Dad; that my father was actually some guy I'd never met, and that my mom had started seeing my "dad" when she was still pregnant, and they'd been together ever since. My dad had legally adopted me, and I was raised thinking that he was my father.

    I remember my initial reaction was trying to go back and sort through memories with his side of the family and feeling that they were false. I eventually got more used to the idea and no longer felt bothered by the situation. I was very curious about my genetic background, (at least after I got over the shock of it) so when I was pregnant with my daughter and was filling out tons of "family history" forms, I finally decided at age 23 to contact him. Facebook, viola! I asked just basic questions about family history. He encouraged me to meet him and his wife and parents, which I honestly didn't want to do but agreed to anyway. It's been uncomfortable for me only because he wants to reconnect with his long lost daughter and accept me into his family and I don't feel any connection to him or desire to know him.

    I don't know if this gives some idea of one way that a donor child might act/feel upon finding out, but I'm MOSTLY glad that my parents allowed me to grow up without these complications on my mind. However, this was a case of a parent not wanting you in their life, as opposed to two parents who wanted you so much that they found help from someone else... just a little different but somewhat the same.

  7. Golden Goose - Please, PLEASE!, do all you can do to allow the children conceived from your eggs the option to make contact with you if they should so choose. It's the only fair and ethical stance to take. I write as an adopted person - you know, adoptees and donor conceived children share the same problem w/anonymity. I'm impressed that you are evolving towards a more enlightened perspective as time goes by. And my heart is warmed by the DE recipients who are committed to full disclosure with there children - these wonderful parents are putting their children FIRST!

  8. I am a mother of a child conceived by donor egg. I have told her about her origins. It is unfortunate that some people don't tell the child, but I have no control over that. My only hope is that they might tell them some day. I have noticed that many adoptees want to speak out on this issue, but they need to understand that donor egg is not the same thing as adoption. I would be more interested in hearing from adult children conceived by egg donation. So far, I have not really come across any. This doesn't mean I think an adoptees opinion is irrelevant, but I think someone who was a donor, a donor conceived child or parent of donor conceived child will have an opinion that is of far more value to me.

    I know some parents tell the child that he was conceived by a donor, but they generally keep it private from most other people. They might tell their close family and close friends. We can't expect people to advertise their private medical procedures. It doesn't mean they are "ashamed" of the way their child was conceived. Our society, sadly, still stigmatizes people who seek out help for infertility. But I think its wonderful that there are doctors and donors who are willing to help them.

  9. Egg donors are women with age group of 21 to 29. These women have participated in intense psychological assessment and have had their medical records reviewed. Once an egg donor is chosen, she will undergo further psychological testing.