Friday, January 26, 2007


As Jenny and Erin thought more about using our embryos to start their family they wanted to know how I envisioned the ideal relationship between the donor and recipient families. This is what I told them:

"When I think about possible contact w/recipients & their kids I see it from several viewpoints.

First, I think of our experience with our sperm donor. We have great kids thanks to him but it's a huge drawback that he's anonymous.

He did provide a detailed family history and wonderful essay but I know our kids will want to know more about him. I wish we had an adult photo to show them.

He has 2 other reported pregnancies. If we could swap medical info, at the very least, with the families of our kids' genetic half-sibs it would be helpful.

Then I think about how meaningful it is to my wife Sonia that, though adopted anonymously, she now knows her birthmom. There's something very satisfying about it and getting the info on medical issues in the birth mother's family is extemely helpful.

I also feel strongly that the recipients are the only parents. It's inappropriate for a donor to try to dictate how the children are raised. Once the donation is made the donor has no say in anything else. If we wanted 3 or 4 kids we'd use the embryos ourselves!

Still, it seems nuts to me that your clinic insists on anonymity with embryo donation. I don't understand the upside to this. We each have our own families. Legally the donor has no rights or responsibilities. What is the problem with being in touch?

I think a lot of straight couples are ashamed of needing fertility help. Lesbians always have at least one partner who is not genetically related to their kids so we're often more open.

My goal is to find the right parents and get the embryos out of the deep freeze and away from my responsibility.

My hope is that my info about the donors' kids won't end with the donation. I'd love to see photos. It would be great to meet the parents and their kids. The kids from both families would probably love to meet each other. My crucial issue is to share medical and developmental info.

We see the twins [from Sonia's egg donation to our infertile friends] every few months. It doesn't feel like they're her kids but it's cool to see how they are developing. We would never dream of commenting on how to raise them!

What I think will happen is that the new parents of kids from these embryos will want to get an idea of what to expect with their own kids' milestones by checking in with us. Did our kids walk early? Teethe at 4 months or at 14 months? Did their eye color change?

I hope we'll ultimately be friends with our recipients but we would never tell our friends, or our recipients, how to raise their kids. The minimum I'd hope for is the occasional photo or email update.

Ideally we'd like to serve as a resource or reference point and be a sounding board. Our recipients could do the same for us. This would probably be all thru email or the occasional call. I'd be happy with even a yearly update or more frequent emails. I'd let the recipients set the pace.

If you have kids from these embryos, it would be nice to swing by on one of our yearly visits to see Sonia's family in your home area if that feels comfortable.

The kids may eventually want more contact with their "cousins" or feel weird and want less to do with each other. We have a storybook for our kids about the nice man who gave us the cell we needed to have a baby. We would explain our own donation the same way. Our kids will know about the donation starting in the 3rd trimester of the resulting pregnancy.

How did this sound to the potential recipients? We were very flexible, as long as the last information we had about the existence of the embryos occured after birth, not before.

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