question for a friend (really!)

So I have this friend.  Really I do, I’m not kidding.  She’s dealing with secondary infertility after a late term loss. In the past, she was the IUI queen. Yet she’s had no luck conceiving again, and she hit the big 4-0 last year. She is now considering IVF for the first time, using DEs. 

So while her concerns may be a bit premature, I love her positive attitude. She is now pondering if and how she would tell others, including her child, about the donor eggs. I believe she’s leaning towards not telling friends or family up front.  But she’s wondering if, when and how she might ever tell her future would-be child.  

A while back I posted about my stepbrother and SIL who had twin boys through IVF with DEs (despite being 7 weeks early, the boys are doing well now). They did not tell anyone (including family) about the DEs, and have a don’t ask-don’t tell policy.  I only know because we’ve had infertility discussion for years now.  But I still won’t ask details. I have no idea if or how they’ll approach the subject with their sons some day. To be honest, I’m a bit afraid to ask.  Maybe over a bottle of wine or two… 

So I ask you, dear internets.  Tell me, tell my friend, if you have considered or used donor gametes (DEs or DS), would/did you tell others (aside from medical professionals and the blogosphere)?  Would/will you tell your child, and if so, when and how?  And finally, do you know of any specific resources (books, blogs, boards, etc.) to help parents work through this difficult issue?

Many thanks in advance, from me and my friend.  

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~ by luna on June 17, 2008.

23 Responses to “question for a friend (really!)”

  1. Everything I’ve heard and read about children born of donor gametes says that they handle the news better when told at an earlier age. If they find out when they’re much older it can be traumatic. I will definitely tell my child and some close friends and maybe even a family member or two, but not much more than that. I feel like it’s my child’s story to tell.

  2. I am pregnant now with baby conceived with DS. As a single girl I didn’t really have a choice there.

    I have told family and some friends and I will be raising my child to know that this is just the way it was. I will start mentioning the donor from an early age. I believe that children who are told this way (same with adoption) accept the news without any major hassles.

    You can buy childrens book that explain their particular situation here: http://xyandme.com/XYMe-Books.htm
    I also found information here:
    http://www.donor-conception-network.org/tellandtalk.htm

    Hope this helps. Good luck to your friend.

  3. We have some friends who conceived their son with DS. During counselling sessions, they were advised that they should be open with him about it from the very start – that way, he would grow up always knowing, and would never have to find out in an unexpected (and potentially traumatic) manner. They have also been open about it with friends and family, although tend not to volunteer the information to more distant acquaintances – when people comment on how like his daddy the little boy is, they just nod politely in agreement!

    They did mention that there are various books designed for children to help you to introduce the concept while they are still young – perhaps these are the ones Sharon mentions?

    Good luck to your friend!

  4. We’ve pondered this option. And I’m always extremely curious to read the comments, because here’s my problem: I have zero, none, nada, problems telling the child. In a way I think it’s their right. And I think it can be done in a manner that if you start when they’re young, by the time it starts to sink in what it really means they’re not overwhelmed with shock and you’re clearly open to questions.

    Fine. I would not want to tell family. Specifically my IL’s. Who I’m here to tell you would a) berate US to the end of the earth, which I could stand I suppose, but b) belittle the child. That child would in no way be treated as an equal. No way. And I’m not paranoid here, they would do this. No question. And I don’t think it’s as easy as “well, tell the kid not the g’parents” because kids have this way of blurting stuff out. They’ll find out, most likely from the innocent child who’ll have to deal with the reaction first hand.

    That scenario keeps me up at night. So I’m going to read along here with you and see if I can figure this out too.

  5. Gosh, that is such a sad comment from Tash. I would hate that family would treat our child any differently.

    We decided early on to be open with the child from the get-go. There are a couple of good books out there for kids too. I figure just as parents dole out more and more complete versions of “where do babies come from?” ours will include DE information.

    EVERYONE knows about the DE. Maybe not the best for the child, but I hope it will be ok. Since we were very close to having a child, friends and coworkers wanted to know what was next. . . so we shared all our IVF cycles, our pregnancies and miscarriages. It seemed natural to share our DE story as well. Then I did the public forum and a local magazine article. I wanted people to know what it was like to deal with infertility, loss of genetic connection and how much it means to have someone donate eggs to you.

    Thanks for pointing out my blog to your friend. I would be happy to email too. I currently believe that accepting DE has been particular difficult for me compared to others. I may be completely wrong, but it seems other people seem to accept it more easily. The good news is that someone really struggling might find comfort that I am ok with it. The bad news is that someone not struggling so much might be scared off.

  6. What a complex issue, as Tash’s comment reveals there is such depth to the decisions of how to handle.

    I can’t speak to D-gametes, but there are similarities in adoption. (I will write with the general “you,” but I don’t actually mean you-Luna.)

    1. I think the more the parents can work through their own feelings about not being genetic parents (which can include inadequacy, shame, regret), the easier everything else will flow. Get THOSE feelings resolved with a good therapist, and clear the way to deal with only the child’s feelings. The more comfortable YOU are with your story, the more comfortable the child will be.

    2. A search of “donor conceived” might turn up some viewpoints. Probably not a representative sample, though.

    3. We were counseled to speak about the adoption from the days our children were infants, so that we never had to have the “big talk.” Taking away the mystery takes away the power. You do your child a BIG favor, I think, to love their own unique story.

    4. But admittedly, these are just my opinions and speculation on how I would handle this, given MY set of variables. I do not have ILs (outlaws?) like Tash does.

  7. I know a brilliant book about it–Diane Ehrensaft’s Mommies, Daddies, Donors, Surrogates. It is a book, but it also has questions to ask yourself and answer throughout (answer internally, not a notebook). I thought it was very helpful and well written. She is also pretty accessible:
    http://www.dianeehrensaft.com/index.html

    She works out in San Francisco if your friend is anywhere near there.

  8. Hi, I have been dealing with these same questions. While some people are able to jump right in I have been struggling but am feeling like I am getting my footing. Feel free to check out my 2 posts (and a few comments) about my struggles with DE.

  9. We decided before even finding a egg donor that we would tell any resulting kid/s about their origins. We have both told various others leaving some people in the dark since they are twats. Even tho many know, not one has referred to that info once since being told and the initial questions.

    I’m only in my 23rd week so there is plenty of time for things to go wrong but I believe for us, telling the twins is the only right thing to do. They are doubly triply onemillionly wanted and special, that someone was so selfless as to help us to make them is proof of how incredible and amazing their start to life is.

    from where I sit and for us, there is no room for shame or regrets period.

  10. I came running over here to endorse a book & I see Mel has already beat me to it. Seriously recommending Mommies, Daddies, Donors & Surrogates. It is just such an honest and refreshing look about introducing the truth of conception to not only your children, but also your family.
    As a single gal my only option is DS, but I have become friends with many married women that have had to use DS as well as many women that are using DE. Many of these women blog.
    So blogs might be a good way to open the conversation…
    But really I am a huge believer in honesty. Using a donor does not make anyone any less of a parent.

  11. We are currently pregnant with donor eggs, and while initially we decided not to tell any friends or family, we eventually changed our minds. We’ve always planned to be open with our children about it (I’m carrying twins) and figured that eventually it might come out to family, too…so we did let our mothers know, and haven’t hid it from or mislead other family members. I just didn’t want to be dishonest about it, but I also didn’t want to go on some publicity campaign, either, out of respect for my children’s privacy.

    There are some good children’s books we’ve found that we plan to read the kiddos. I purchased the top three books at this link, and found them all to be helpful:
    http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss_gw/105-6942393-4548423?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=donor+egg

    Our family has been nothing but respectful of our decision.

  12. Oh, I feel I should add, I have not had any issues with accepting our need to move on to donor egg. I totally understand that it’s difficult for some, but I was at a place where I was ready to accept this next step for us. I agree with the previous comment that this made it SO easy to explain to our family and few friends…since I was at peace with it, and it became a matter of fact situation, everybody just accepted our decision with few questions and much joy. Your friend can email me, too, if she likes…

  13. We’re using donor sperm and are going to be honest from the beginning. I did not feel comfortable keeping it a secret. I actually told my husband that if he wasn’t comfortable being open I wanted to pursue adoption. I decided that if we discuss it from the beginning and our child doesn’t know anything different it won’t be seen as weird. Plus, we live in a major metropolitan city w/a very diverse population. Here’s a blog called Conception Connection. http://conceptionconnections.wordpress.com/ and it is associated with Alternative Reproductive Sources. http://www.arr1.com/ They have a lot of books (for adults and children) and general information.

  14. It is a disservice to the child to not tell him or her from the beginning like it is a normal part of life. I think not telling from the earliest of tellings is wrong. It is the same as not telling a child he or she is adopted. When a child finds out (and they are bound to find out somehow, someday) he or she will feel betrayed.

    It is difficult to tell, but you must tell. Do do anything else is cruel.

    (Can you imaging finding out you were donor conceived as an adult? How would you feel? Like your whole life was a lie? I would too. Tell her to tell.)

  15. I currently use DS since I’m single and have sort of considered lately whether I would use DE if things continue to be unsuccessful. If I did decide to use DE’s I don’t think I would tell everyone about that although I’m not shy or ashamed of any of this and I do talk about it. I would however tell the child preferrably starting at an early age. Part of this is because I’m adopted and my parents were always very up front about that and I feel it went a long ways towards helping me accept and deal with it all. Also I’ve seen too many who were adopted or from donor situations who are angry and often they weren’t told until they were older. However I admit that I’m not entirely sure how to tell.

  16. I have a 2.5 year old son through DE and DS and am currently pregnant with twins from DE and DS. All the books I have seen have already been listed above but there is a yahoo group that is a reallyl amazing source of info and support. http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/MVED/

  17. We’re looking at donor eggs with a family friend in November. We plan to be open with our kids, their kides, and both of our immediate families. Both of us (donor and I) have a hard time with disclosure – as in we are very OPEN. Our main goal is that none of our children, who may grow up in the same area, are surprised by the information later. We are lucky not to be in Tash’s very difficult position.

    It also woudl be impossible for me not to tell. I lost most of my ovaries early on and have been telling people since I was 19 that I probably couldn’t have kids. When the FSH started coming back really high, I told all my friends. I didn’t even know about DE then and never thougth that me telling my story could ever impact a child later – at that point there was no chance of theoretical children. So the world around me would become annoying touters of ‘just relax’ treatments and ‘it happened to my friend who was CONVINCED she couldn’t have kids’ stories without me being a bit open too.

    For me it comes down to what is best for the kid(s). I know that for me to be the best mom I can be I will need to be open and honest from the start. I won’t tell the world, I think it is his or her story to tell, but will tell the key people in their life. I am sure I’ll stumble along the way a bit too…

  18. My husband and I are currently TTC using a known donor after 3 failed IVF cycles using his sperm (which were extracted through 2 TESA surgeries). This is been a very long process, so most of our families are aware of what’s going on and are very very very supportive. A couple of our friends know, but outside of that circle, I think that it will be a case by case basis on if we tell or not. If we do have a baby someday, we plan on telling them how they were conceived. I am not sure how early we’d start telling them, but I am sure that our story will grow in complexity as appropriate for the child’s age and comprehension level.

    Specific resources we have used include “Helping the Stork,” “Mommies, Daddies, Donors, Surrogates,” The Donor Conception Network’s handout on Telling and Talking with DC Kids (www.donor-conception-network.org/telltalkpubs.htm), and the many, many donor-related blogs found on the Stirrup Queens huge list of blogs.

  19. I’m 9w pg after IVE with DE; totally plan on telling the child. Not sure how yet, but we will. Families all know, select people I work with. I think it will ultimately be easier this way, in the long run.

  20. I used DE to conceive (I am currently 10w) and we have always been open about our infertility struggles so telling my family, friends and immediate co-workers about using DE IVF was just an extension of that. We always planned to tell the child because I think it’s important for practical and emotional reasons for the kid to know. Practical because of medical issues that may come up in the future and emotional because I don’t think it’s a secret that can be kept from them forever even if we didn’t tell a single soul. And I would rather not have the first time the kid hears about the fact that they were from DE to be a negative experience.

    We are lucky that, for the most part, the people around us understand and support us. This might not be the case for some people and when we talked to a psychologist (required before you can cycle with DE) she raised a good point that in some situations it might actually be better not to tell. However, only you can decide if your situation warrants keeping this a secret or not.

    I think the trend these days is to tell and although the books that are recommended in the previous comments are great to read for thinking all of this through, they are biased towards telling.

    As for when and how to tell, we have decided to start telling the story from the very beginning even before the kid can understand. using the books written for kids that people have already mentioned to you. The Mommies, Daddies, Donors, Surrogates book has some good suggestions on how to start to tell firdifferent ages of the child.

  21. Thank you all so very much for sharing your stories, views and these incredible resources!

  22. Hi Ladies! I am the friend that Luna was so kind to ask these questions for. I must say, I was pretty surprised to read almost everyone saying they would tell the child and (most) also family. Maybe I’m just more of a private person, I don’t know. My family know of my IF troubles, but it’s a dont ask, don’t tell kind of deal…I DON’T want them asking me about my struggles, I don’t want to be pitied, and I CERTAINLY don’t want all the glances at my belly, trying to figure out if maybe I could be pregnant. So, basically, they know I’ve struggled with IF (my 8yr old son was conceived through an IUI cycle with stims), but they have no idea what my DH and I have been through over the past nearly 3 yrs (lost a pregnancy at nearly 24 wks, subsequent IF, subsequent m/c)… for me, it’s just too painful to talk about IRL. Anyway, my consult with my RE is on Tuesday, so we’ll see if I am a good candidate for IVF with DEs. I just turned 42 (ugh). Wondering how old everyone here is??? Thanks again for your candid and honest responses. My initial thoughts were that I would NOT tell family or the child (yes, I’m trying to think positive :-), but after reading that nearly everyone WOULD tell, I am definitely going to rethink this. Again, thank you all, and of course, thank you to my dear friend Luna. xo

  23. Lyn,

    Rethinking and thinking is often good, but then again, we have no idea of your situation.. only you will know that. And this might not be the most representative sample of women:) while most of us are more open online than in real life, I suspect that are many people out there who choose a very private route who are not commenting and blogging as much as the people you are reading here.

    As for your question… I am 29– part of the group of women who skip straight to DE because well that was my only option. It is a different experience than getting to this place after a journey of loss, treatment, and trying. But the same questions seem to crop up regardless of age. Sometimes I am a bit envious of the women who are tackling the questions of DE with a bit more life experience and wisedom and resources than I can possibly have. OTher times I see benefits of my situation. Sometime I just can see anything and feel a complete muddle (particularly durng my hot flashes days).

    Wishing you a great appointment with the RE.

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