When we decided to do embryo donation we had a pretty vague idea of how to proceed. The site we used, Miracles Waiting, leaves recipient selection up to the donor. Sites with a political agenda, such as those run by religious groups, are much more discriminatory in the criteria they use to allow consideration of recipients. We felt we were the best ones to pick the people we wanted as recipients.
We had a vague outline of what we wanted. Since the embryos are genetically Jewish, we wanted Jewish recipients. But it soon became obvious that, for us, it would be crucial for the recipients to be lesbians. We could readily understand why lesbians facing infertility would choose to receive embryos: one member of the couple would likely be a good candidate to carry a pregnancy to term, and adoption is not possible for lesbians who refuse to lie about their relationship.
Heterosexuals who want embryos might want to experience childbirth or control the maternal environment in a way they could not if they adopted. But adoption is readily available to heterosexual couples, and we know many who have done it.
From some of the emails we received, it seemed there might be other factors involved for straight couples who wanted embryos: an unwillingness to go through a home study; lack of money for adoption; problems in the family that would make adoption difficult; disinterest in adopting non-white children; or impatience, since the adoption process can take some time. None of these factors made us enthusiastic about donating to straight people.
The advantage of selecting a lesbian couple would be that we would not have to worry about recipients' homophobic reaction to our family. Openness in families is important to us. It would be hard for a lesbian couple to do what most straight embryo recipients do: lie to their children about the kids' origen from donor gametes. And picking lesbians would be our own little contribution to correcting the bias that exists against gay people starting families. We would use "reverse discrimination" to remove a boulder from the path of at least one lesbian couple on the road to parenthood.
But which couple? We were surprised to get so many responses to our listing from lesbian couples, and amazed that so many of these couples had at least one Jewish partner. We actually agreed to donate to the very first couple that contacted us, just because we didn't know any better and there wasn't anything obviously wrong with them. Until there was.
Tune in next time to find out why that donation fell through.