Sunday, January 21, 2007


Now that I had made up my mind that Jenny and Erin were the ideal parents for my embryos, my approach to them changed. But I did not yet tell this couple I had picked them because I needed to make sure the donation would meet their own needs and desires.

I was sure about their suitability and my wife concurred. Yet there was a lot of information I needed to share before they could make an informed decision about us. We would make sure they still wanted to go forward even after we had laid out all the pluses and minuses of using these embryos, as well as the conditions under which we would make the donation.

My first email after selecting Jenny and Erin was more positive and expansive than in the past. I was also willing to share more personal information:

"Thanks for the great info about your plans, perspective on your work and parenting philosophy. You two sound like you will be awesome parents.

To answer another of your important questions: no, my wife is not Jewish. Actually, she is an Episcopalian like Erin and the two of them grew up an hour's drive from each other! Accordingly, I am going to let my wife answer all the other questions you asked about religion when she has a moment. I think her perspective will be of interest to you. Obviously she and I have discussed these issues a lot.

Before I answer about my preferences regarding recipients and my relationship to their kids, I would like to ask you this: if everything works out the way you want it, what would be your ideal relationship with your embryo donor and/or your kids' genetic siblings.

BTW, my wife and I don't say I'm the "biological" mom of our kids [referring to the term Jenny and Erin had used about an embryo donor]. IVF and embryo donation are so new there are no standard terms, but my perspective is that I just provided the blueprints, my wife created the children from her own flesh and blood. So she is more the "bio" mom than I am. In our case, we say she is the birth mom and I am the genetic mom or gen-mom. I would not expect the recipients to call me any sort of "mom", but rather the donor. (Of course our children call us "mommy" and "mama" not "birth mom" or whatever).

The only other question I have for you at the moment is this: I think it is very likely that you would get at least one child if you used these embryos. Actually, if you used our clinic I think you have a good chance of getting two kids. The fact that your clinic said they would only implant two embryos at a time shows they think you have a great chance of getting pregnant because clinics usually make exceptions and implant more embryos with older women or women with problems indicating a low chance of pregnancy.

Statistically, I do think it's unlikely (thought it is possible) that you would get three kids from these three embryos. So how would you complete your family if you only got two kids from these embryos? What would you do if you used all three embryos and only got one child?"

Jenny and Erin had made it clear that they wanted three children. It was important to them that those children be biological siblings if possible. That is why they were not using anonymous donor embryos through their clinic: the guarantee was that they would not get genetic siblings that way.

We had only three embryos to give. If Jenny and Erin wanted to be certain their children would share the same genes, we were not the donors to pick. And if they would only be happy with three genetic sibling they really needed a donor who could provide six or more embryos. It was almost impossible that our three embryos could become three children.

I had to make sure Jenny and Erin were comfortable with these caveats. They were the perfect recipients for us but we might not be the right donors for them. They needed all the facts before they could be sure. I was about to provide them.