Monday, December 11, 2006


Watching a co-worker consent to an open adoption to get a newborn, then immediately violate the birthmother's rights colored my approach to selecting embryo recipients. On the one hand, I had a pretty clear idea of what I should put into the donation contract. On the other hand, I felt like an interloper in the creation of someone else's family.

Based on my co-worker's hostile attitude towards the birthmother of her child, I assumed that the embryo recipients who contacted me wished I did not exist. They were, of course, delighted that the embryos existed, but seemed to wish I would just hand them over and go away.

I could understand their perspective. No one wants to be infertile. These couples received medical news they did not enjoy, but practicality and their wish to have a family dictated that they hold their noses and deal with me to have another child.

Using donor embryos to create that child was their very last choice after rounds of tests, fertility drugs, alternative insemination, IVF, operations, and every other possible option they could afford. If there were any other way for these couples to have a child, they would already have one. I was clearly their last, least preferred option.

Clearly, my responsibility was to tread lightly. Don't ask too much about the recipients. Limit contractual requests. Be flexible, don't ask for much in the way of future contact, hand over the embryos and disappear.

Women who use donor eggs or donor embryos feel fine about lying to their children. The vast majority of them pretend they share the kids' genetics. it's obvious from this behevior that the donors are an inconvenience these women wish would give them some gametes and get lost.

The custom of closed adoption and
anonymous sperm donation arose in this country because people with fertility issues feel imperfect. The solution, lying and cutting off the people who make those families possible, is damaging to the children who result. The only one who benefits is a parent so insecure s/he cannot even tell the child the lengths the parents took to have kids.

When I first looked into donating my embryos, I bought into this whole pack of lies and culture of deceit. But as I corresponded with potential recipients, my views changed. I'll explain how and why another day.