Sunday, January 28, 2007


If you're reading this blog you probably have some interest in assisted reproduction. I'll interrupt my previously scheduled hand-wringing over religion to bring you more information on the wonderful "X, Y and Me" books that came up in my discussions with Jenny and Erin. Here's a little more info about this invaluable resource.

This is what it says on the books' website,

"The author of the X, Y, and Me Book Series has...seen infertility from the perspective of both patient and caregiver...We believe that it is a child’s right to know their genetic origins...Some psychological professionals believe that a child should be told of their origin from the very beginning...This prevents the emotional upset that could occur if a child accidentally discovers, or is told later in life that he was conceived in an alternative way. Although professionals tell the parents it is best to disclose, very few tools are available to help them...the desire to help IVF patients nurture their child are the motivations for...these books."

Amen, Sister! People who want so strongly to share their love with a child that they undergo assisted reproduction should be proud of that fact, not ashamed. Doctors today are offering genetic testing to determine if people have the genes to put them at risk for everything from heart disease to breast cancer. By the time our children are adults they are as likely to get a genetic work up at the doctor's office as we are to get a blood test. How can we think our children will never find out if they are created from donor gametes: "Mom, I found out that my early-onset breast cancer is caused by the BRCA-1 gene -- why am I the only one in our family who has it?" or "Dad, how is it that you and mom both have A-negative blood but my blood is O-positive? That's impossible."

Children who know as early as they can remember that they are adopted or conceived with donor gametes regard it as normal. But how can a parent share complicated medical information with a child in an age-appropriate, non-sexual way?

The "X, Y and Me" books were invented to address just these concerns. As the welcome page puts it:

"There is much controversy as to whether it is a child's right to know his or her genetic heritage. This delicate issue of disclosure needs to be decided by parents; especially as science and medicine continue to delve into the genetic inheritance of disease.

It can be very difficult for parents to know how and when to disclose this information...[perhaps] they don't know how to broach the subject, the time never seems right, or they may be afraid of their child's reaction. Some literature shows there may be a real advantage to giving information regarding conception to a child at a young age. This prevents the emotional upset that could occur if a child accidentally discovers or is told later in life that he or she was conceived in an alternative way. It is especially devastating to find out as an adult that one or both of your parents are not genetically related to you. Adults told later in life often feel hurt, angry, and betrayed.

The books available from X, Y, and Me...[let] this given in a factual, non-emotional, matter-of-fact way. By reading these books to a child from infancy through early childhood, the child then develops a progressive understanding and grows up knowing "no differently". It is our hope that these books will be helpful to parents as they deal with this delicate, but very real, issue."

I wrote to the books' author, Janice Grimes, for a list of books and more information on her company. Here's what she said:

"Thank you for your email. I have been following your blog...My books mainly sell by word of mouth...It is my plan to someday have a version that fits every family situation, including [as in your family] female partners that use the egg from one partner while the other partner carries the pregnancy. I think that is a wonderful way for female couples to share in the creation of a family.....I wish you all the best with your embryo donation."

She's really helping parents, and she's nice too! Here are the books that Janice currently publishes. There's one to fit most assisted reproduction scenarios:

Two parent Books:

Frozen Embryo
IVF using Donor Sperm
Egg Donation
Embryo Donation
Donor Insemination (IUI with donor sperm)
Traditional Surrogate
Gestational Carrier
Female Partners (IUI with donor sperm)
Male Partners (Traditional surrogacy)

Single Parent Books

Single Mom - Donor Insemination
Single Mom - IVF using Donor Sperm
Single Mom - Donor egg / Donor sperm
Single Mom - Donor Embryo
Single Dad - Traditional Surrogacy (IUI)
Single Dad - Donor egg / gestational carrier

Wow, she really covered the spectrum of assisted reproduction. We read her book to our son all the time and he loves it. We had to print some labels to change some of the pronouns from "he" to "she" but that's because our family-building method was relatively rare.

Janice goes on to say:

"The title of the books for single parents is "Before You Were Born...My Wish For A Baby." If anyone goes to my website, they can read the full version of the Egg Donation book. Then they can view all the illustrations. The pictures are almost exactly the same in both the two parent books and the single parent books. We did remove a parent bear [characters in the book are drawn as bears] on several pages in the single parent versions."

If you have a child conceived the new-fangled way, or you know someone who does, X, Y and Me is an invaluable resource. Check it out!