Friday, June 1, 2012

The other side of the coin

Here is the ugly side.

What if the child born to the recipient family doesn't like Jay or thinks we are hillbillies?  What if Jay meets this donor family and he secretly likes them better than his own family?  How can all these children avoid the inevitable comparisons?

Maybe these embryos are just cells.  As we all are painfully aware, there is no promise they will implant and result in a pregnancy.

How can I argue the personhood movement as bullshit when I tend to frame my own embryos as people?

I am interested in the promise of stem cell research.  I am not even sure you can still donate embryos any more.  I think Federal funding was killed on all those programs.

Not much on the ugly side, is there?  I should be having a tough conversation with an experienced resource in the next several days.  This is my last exploration into the bad side of donating embryos.

I am just a blip in time.  Who cares if I am a hillbilly.  I am a happy hillbilly.  

I feel like the brunt of this decision will be carried by the child born from donor embryos.

Can you think of any other challenges I should face before making this decision?


  1. To your credit, you are taking a very thoughtful approach to this. We are donating our remaining frozen embryos to a childless couple (I posted about this fairly recently, within the past month or so), and I'll admit that, while we thought about how child(ren) resulting from our donated embryos might feel. . . I hadn't much considered how OUR SONS might feel about our decision until my BFF asked me about it at lunch one day.

    I think you have carefully looked at all the ins and outs, and if you are going to also consult with "an experienced resource," you've probably covered your bases. (Assuming you are absolutely sure you don't ever want to use your embryos yourself.)

    We are going through the donation process now, and as we are doing it privately, it's a lot of legwork on both sides. I often think how disappointing it'll be for the recipients if none of our embryos ever become babies.

  2. Our RE made us go to a counselor. She specializes in these issues. It helped a lot, and Im not a therapy kind of girl.

    As a recipient, I have the same questions. I remember wishing I was adopted as a child. I wonder, what if a child is born, and the child likes the biological family better than us!

    I keep telling myself... this situation is not normal, but it will be normal to any child of mine that might exist because of this situation. It will know of it's story. I hope that our donor family and us can have some type of relationship. Not BFF's, but a special/ different kind of relationship.

    Really... what is normal anymore anyway? Hopefully this child (SERIOUSLY HOPEFULLY!) will simply have a unique story of how they came to be. I hope this situation does not define who they are or discredit our idea of a family in any way. I also hope for the same for our donor family. I hope that this can be viewed as a kind act by generous people who helped us in a way that not many could or would have helped.

    Best wishes on your decision. I know it is a tough one.

  3. Ok. Let me try this again (I tried posting the other day on your other post and my work server ate it).

    I haven't done this from this side, but we've obviously used donor sperm. We are in contact with all but one of the families on the Donor Sibling Registry that used our donor and we have a facebook group. ALL of the families are so very different. Two mom families, single moms by choice. We have met up with one of the families and the kids played together.

    Here's the thing (and take this as my opinion) these are not my children's half siblings. Siblings implies a familial relationship. These are families built because we all were missing one of the vital elements to make a baby, and as a result a nice man donated his cells to make that happen. And we all used cells from the same man. These other families aren't potential "other" families for my children, they're just families made the same way ours was. They're genetically linked, but that's it.

    So, as for Jay, he's not going to meet them and like them more than his own family any more or less than he would do that with any of his friends growing up (didn't we all have that one friend where we said "man I wish those were MY parents").

    I really think this is in how you frame the discussion. Another family out there was missing the cells needed to make their family, and you had the missing piece. It doesn't necessarily mean Jay will have a relationship with the other child(ren) or family. I also think that the discussion with the child who is born of donated embryos is no different than the discussion of adoption with a child.

    As for the personhood stuff - I totally understand the struggle there. I felt like my embryos were my babies too. But I could never purport to tell someone else how they should feel about their embryos. The bottom line is you have to feel comfortable with the choice that you make, because if you are, then whatever you communicate to Jay - he'll see that and be comfortable too.

    1. "Here's the thing (and take this as my opinion) these are not my children's half siblings. Siblings implies a familial relationship." <-- This. Perfectly stated.

      You might remember that I'm in a somewhat similar boat, having recently come into contact with my father and learned of two half-siblings. I can't help but compare Jay's situation and my own. I only call them "father" and "half-siblings" because I can't think of better terms. In Jay's case or mine, these aren't people we'd really have a close relationship with. (I'm assuming on his part, anyway?) They are mere acquaintances who happen to share genetic material with us.

      I am thinking of you. This must be really hard to do.

  4. Two thoughts. One: the political side of the personhood thing bears no resemblance to the careful thought we are giving it in this context; it's an underhanded way of trying to ban abortion and a whole slew of birth control methods and IVF by very conservative politicians. It's perfectly reasonable (I say) to think of embryos you have made as your children, with all the personal investment that is involved. It is another for a politician to label a fertilized egg a person in order to effectively ban a bunch of otherwise legal stuff they deem immoral. Apples : oranges. Especially considering these lovely embryos wouldn't exist if any personhood amendment were actually ratified. This is one of those instances in which your intention/motivation is the most important thing, even if the ideal under the microscope is the same.

    And two: In thinking about how to talk my kids about their conception via IVF, which I think for several reasons is important to do (not the least of which, the potential that they, too, may deal with infertility thanks to our shitty genes), I keep imagining that in 10-20 years (the time frame in which I figure it will come up), ART will likely have come a long way in terms of medical technology and social acceptance, and perhaps it will be completely "normal" by that time for babies to be born via medical intervention. Hopefully not a la Gattica, but maybe because of the increased awareness of infertility, or ability to screen gametes/embryos for serious genetic disorders, etc. So maybe it will be no big deal, is what I'm saying, to explain how mommy and daddy and some other nice people and a shit ton of doctors were ALL there to help you come into the world. Maybe the only part that will stick out is how much these babies were wanted.

  5. Ooof, all these super thoughtful comments above leave me kinda struck dumb, but I do so admire the thoughtful way you approach this complex web of topics. You're thinking about it, you're taking the point of view of all the parties, you're doing all you need to do. In my opinion.

  6. As someone who is a mother thanks to embryo donation I'd love to help you in anyway I can as you consider this option. First I think it's great you're thinking about all the ramifications of donating and who/how they'll be affected.

    I think one major thing you need to consider is how open of a relationship you want to have with the recipient family & how close in proximity you'd like them to live to your family. We have an incredible open relationship with our donor family and although I can only speak from a recipient family point of view I am SO thankful for this. They live in the northeast part of the US and we're in the Midwest so although we've both visited each other previously it's not something that happens frequently.

    We are open about how we conceived our son and plan to provide him with contact with his donor family throughout his life as he desires. And the worries you have felt about the comparisons your son might make between the recipient family I think those are completely normal fears and it's good your voicing them. Honestly I've felt those same fears as a recipient family, if our son will wish he'd rather been raised by his donor family and how it will affect him growing up, but above all I believe that fact that he is being raised in an open, loving home is worth it and I know his donor family feels the same way.

    Also if you'd like to speak with another donor family I'm confident our donor mother would be happy to talk with you about their experience donating. Here is a link to her blog where she very honestly discusses the emotions that accompany being a donor family...

    I can tell you that our donor families willingness to allow us the opportunity to become parents and the way that their donation has changed our lives is far reaching. It has been an incredible journey for us and one I wouldn't change. There have been many times I've been awed by the amazing love, support and acceptance we've been given by them. And to look at our beautiful son and think of what a miracle it really is that he's ours well it's definitely enough to make my head explode!

    Above all I wish you peace in whatever decision you make and guidance as you think about your options. Also if I can be of any assistance in answering questions from our perspective please let me know!

  7. You're so not a hillbilly. Just for starters. And I can totally see this being a truly complicated scenario to consider. Like choosing to do donor egg in the first place, I have a feeling that once the decision is made, it will feel as though it were never otherwise. Hopefully? Whatever you do is right.

  8. If you really aren't sure then you probably aren't ready to make the decision. There's another side. What if Jay's siblings like youre family better?

  9. Thank you for putting your thoughts about this very complicated question on your blog. I think it's not a discussion we participate in too often, since it seems so personal and can rouse emotions and differing opinions.

    This is an entirely personal opinion, and not a well founded argument, but I think the pros of donating outweigh the cons by a landslide. I think about this "brunt of the decision" you speak of is made bigger by your fears. And that's ok. You are so incredibly thoughtful and you have fears attached to this process (and who wouldn't), and you need to look at every angle possible. I just don't think it's likely that this "brunt" will be a hardship on the kids.

    In the fall, Mr. A and I attended an adoption pannel where we listened to a 13-year-old boy, flanked by his mother and his birth mother. After they told us their story, someone from the audience asked the boy if it felt strange to him growing up with his parents and also knowing his birthmother and seeing her regularly. He seemed a bit puzzled, a bit exasperated, perhaps liked he'd had to deal with this question before and it tired him out. He basically answered that this is how his life is and it's not wierd, it's what he knows. Moral of the story is, when kids have all they need to grow up healthy and happy (i.e. food, roof over their heads, love from their parents, education, etc.), the particulars of how they became a family doesn't matter as much.

  10. mind is wondering the same thing...good luck! Its not an easy decision...

  11. EEK! I feel like you are dealing with some huge issues right now. And I'm sure I'll have to come back to these posts when we are ready to decide what to do with our remaining embryos too. THanks for sharing all of your thoughts.