Wednesday, January 10, 2007


We were hearing from more infertile Jewish lesbians than we could have dreamed existed. All were in their forties or 50's, in long-term relationships, and had one child who was inevitably begging them for a sibling. Many were nice but none of them was quite right as parents for those embryos we had on ice.

Soon after creating this blog to try to cast a wider net for recipients we received the following email. Names and identifying details have been changed to protect the couple's privacy but I have permission to publish what they wrote to me:

Hello! We are relatively new to this whole process but came upon this website and found your profile. We are a lesbian couple, ages 31 & 30 who have had several failed attempts at IUI. We have recently found out that embryo donation is our best option. Living in the South, we were uncertain of our opportunities to adopt. It is very important for my partner to go through pregnancy and bond with our child.

We are interested in having two to three children and would love the opportunity for them to share a biological connection. The only downside of the embryo adoption for us was the fact that the child would not have the opportunity to know their biological parent(s). Anonymous donation is the only such type at our clinic.

We are not Jewish but are very spiritual and have very strong family values. Both sets of parents are very supportive in all our endevours and we would love the opportunity to raise a child in a happy, loving, supportive home. Please feel free to contact us with any questions/comments. We look forward to hearing from you!

Jenny & Erin
P.S. Happy Thanksgiving!

This couple was not Jewish so we couldn't really consider them as recipients, but something in their email really made me stop and think. They had the option of receiving donor embryos from their clinic but they prefered a known embryo donor.

As someone who conceived her own children using a sperm donor I could really relate to this. The only thing we regret about our donor is that, unlike many of them, he is not an "open identity donor". That means it is extremely unlikely that our kids will ever have the chance to meet him or even see an adult picture of him.

Considering the fact that sperm banks allow each donor to help conceive ten or more kids, I could understand from the sperm donor's perspective why he might not want to meet so many children who share his DNA. They might have unrealistic expectations of him and there would probably be a heck of a lot of them.

But if I were this lesbian couple I would prefer an open-identity embryo donor too! Their clinic was willing to give them embryos, but from all different donors. They had no choice in the matter and would only know the barest medical details about the donors. They wanted more than one child, and the clinics' system guaranteed that the children would not be biological siblings. If I were these women I would opt out of this bizarre system if I had any other choice.

The attitude expressed by these women was the opposite of all the other emails I had received from potential recipients. Everyone else seemed to regard the embryo donor as a necessary evil on their path to parenthood. The proof of most recipients' hostile attitudes towards embryo donation is the fact most who become parents this way actively choose to lie to their kids. They pretend to be their children's genetic parents.

These recipients who had just contacted me, by contrast, felt so secure about themselves that they refused to deny their children the knowledge of their genetic roots. They planned to tell their kids they were conceived from donor egg and sperm because they respected their children's right to know and thought it would be something special the kids would enjoy.

Even though they were not Jewish and thus not the recipients for us, I was intrigued by their healthy, secure mindset. And I was, as always, curious: where were they in the South? Perhaps we were right next door since I happened to be down South for Thanksgiving. And why was a couple that young having trouble conceiving?

Making it clear that I was looking for a Jewish family for my embryos I wrote back a brief note with my questions. Whether they answered or not, their child-centered approach to embryo donation was giving me a lot to think about.

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