When they received my email describing the role of parents and the role of the donor, Jenny wrote back:
"I called Erin (we are both on lunch) to read her your last email and her reply was, "I couldn’t have asked for a better response". I have to say I agree.
Erin and I are both very open. We both feel that the important aspect and the number one people involved are the children. We will let them, when they are of age, make suggestions on how often they would like to see their [genetic sibling] “cousins”, but we definitely agree that visits (such as when you are in our area visiting your wife's family) would be beneficial. We had actually started a “baby book” on our sperm donor when we thought we would have children that way. If we were the recipients, I would hope that we could have pictures of your family so that we could do the same. You may already be familiar, but we found on the Internet a website that has storybooks that deal with IVF/IUI/egg/sperm/embryo donors. I believe it is "X,Y, and Me" [http://www.xyandme.com/].
Thank you again for the response, I believe we are all in agreement on what an ‘ideal’ relationship between donor/recipient would be. Please let us know if you have any more questions."
They were right: so far everything between our two families had been remarkably simpatico. There were so many similarities between us and these recipients. We had similar perspectives on child-rearing, embryo donation and on many aspects of life.
The last obstacle to this donation was an issue I had been struggling with as my certainty grew that these were the right recipients for our embryos. That issue was religion, or more precisely, cultural heritage.
The sperm donor, I, and thus the embryos, were genetically Jewish. The recipients were not. Could I "disappear" one or two more Jewish "children" into historical oblivion by consigning them to Christian parents? The sperm donor himself had lived this story: born to a Catholic mother and a Jewish father, our donor had been raised Catholic. We only found out that he was genetically Jewish because the sperm bank re-examined his donor profile. This genetically Jewish man would turn his back on the Jewish people: raised Catholic he would go on to raise his own children in that religion.
The sperm donor's story had been repeated millions of times since the birth of Christ, most often involuntarily. Jewish parents gave their children to Christians for safe-keeping in time of threat to the Jewish community and did not survive to retrieve them. Many times Jewish children were stolen outright by Christians intent on "saving" them. Or assimilationist Jewish parents had tried to "protect" their children by lying to them about their cultural heritage. There are several politicians in the United States who famously discovered this about their families after winning election.
None of this had anything whatsoever to do with my potential gift of embryos to Jenny and Erin. They were fine, kind women. They wanted to start a family. I wanted to help them. They had not set out to "convert" anyone to Christianity. They simply wanted the blessing of motherhood. They had nothing to do with priests splashing Jewish children with holy water in the Middle Ages then claiming them for the church as "converts", or any other crime against the Hebrew people. It was just that, in the face of rampant assimilation, I wanted to strengthen the Jewish race any way I could, not diminish it.
More than anything I felt that Jenny and Erin were our recipients. I wanted to put my illogical qualms to rest, to ignore the past and move forward into the future. But how?