Having Your Baby Through Egg Donation: Second Edition

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DeMill, I'm ready for my close-up. I'm still young, I'm still nubile. With all these insecurities swirling around her office, Mendell knows to tread gingerly. To those who are anxious that other kids will point fingers at Junior and yell "Egg donor baby! Not telling is harder than you might think. Unless you're not genetically related to your child, you may not be able to imagine what it would entail to pretend that you are. How often does the subject of a kid's conception come up, anyway? You'd be surprised. Mendell says she doesn't coerce people into telling; she helps them understand the cost of silence.

She takes parents through undisclosed life, step by step. Because there is a real chance that if anyone knows, the child will find out, and if that happens the child will feel terribly lied to and violated—that we know from research.

So they have to burn all the papers: the donor profile from the clinic, a picture they may have of her. They have to never talk about it, not even to each other. They have to lie to the obstetrician, to the pediatrician, go to enormous lengths to make sure it isn't in any records. Let's say the mother's family has history of breast cancer—she can't tell the daughter not to worry herself sick about it. According to Klock's data, about 80 percent of recipients have told others; these same people told Klock they regret having blabbed. Mendall also boldly speaks the three words parents in this position dread most: home DNA testing.

Marital strife, unrelated to egg donation, could also "out" a child who hasn't been told, Rosenberg says. Barry Stevens laughs ruefully when he hears parents say they're sparing their children by keeping the truth from them. To us, it's a fundamental matter of right. An estimated , to , inseminations are done annually in the United States many now are for lesbians and single women; heterosexual couples are less likely to use sperm donors thanks to new IVF procedures that can give infertile men's sperm a boost ; the preponderance of children who were born this way are believed to be in the dark about it.

Stevens, who was raised in England, found out his parentage when he was 18, soon after his father died. His mother's therapist thought it was important that he and his sister, also born through a donation, know the truth so that they could better understand their family dynamic; his father had expressly forbidden his mother from telling them. Stevens didn't give up searching after the film was done; he now believes he's zeroed in on the man's identity.

Ultimately, secrets of such magnitude destroy families from the inside out, Stevens argues. But that's so unfounded. Children love the people who nurture them, who have the courage to be honest with them.

Reporter's Notebook

In the halls of the nation's or so fertility clinics, they call it the "disclosure issue"—when they refer to it at all. Only 18 percent of fertility clinics have a psychologist to brief patients emphasis on brief on what it means to have a baby with someone else's egg. Whether to reveal to your child the unusual way he or she came into the world is often barely touched on.

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And no clinic I know of has developed a decent, age-appropriate protocol for telling children, which is what Mendell recommends. Nor do they carry any of the half-dozen picture books for parents to read with their children. The official polity of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the big trade association of infertility doctors, is pro-disclosure, which echoes the overwhelming opinion of therapists.

Reporter's Notebook

But the careful language of the group's statement—mildly supporting disclosure while at the same time stating that whatever a parent chooses to do is just fine—reflects the ambivalence of reproductive endocrinologists. Some of their wariness about speaking up is understandable; perhaps more than most specialties, the field of high-tech baby-making is built on a tradition of non-judgment. Other reasons might not be so noble. Infertility treatments are rarely covered by insurance, and they're expensive.

With more than half of potential patients leaning toward non-disclosure, doctors who push parents to tell run the risk of alienating a major share of the market. Doctors may also worry about the drying up of their donor pool, since parents who plan to tell their children are likely to want someone who'll agree to be found when the child turns But if history is any guide, such trepidation is probably unfounded.

When donor anonymity was abolished in Sweden in in lieu of a national registry, the number of donors dropped precipitously at first but within a few years climbed back to former levels. It's just a matter of time before these kids get old enough and sue to open their files, he suggests, "so we keep [egg donors] very well documented. Most of them won't, that is. There are a handful of doctors who insist that the patient is always right, and if the patient is a parent who doesn't want to tell, so be it.

When reproductive endocrinologist Craig Sweet first began offering egg donation to women in his Fort Myers, Florida office 11 years ago, he generally advised them to be honest with their children. But lately, influenced by Klock's research on how many recipients choose not to come clean, he's begun to see shades of gray. In fact, he's appalled at the recent lawsuits requiring state governments and adoption agencies to open their books so that adoptees can track down their birth parents.

As for his own donor records, he says he'll keep them officially only for the 10 years required by the FDA. After that, he'll hold onto them in case a parent wants access, but "if there's a lawsuit by those kids," the documents "can easily disappear," he says. Sweet's website gives advice on how to hide the details of a child's conception from family "if not disclosed to family and friends, be prepared for some funny feelings" and pediatricians "if there is some important egg donation history, one alternative is to incorporate this into the mother's family history".

I have one in her twenties. When the quality of the parent—infant relationship was assessed at the representational level, very few differences were found between egg donation and IVF parents. Differences were found between egg donation and IVF families in the observational assessment of parent—infant relationship quality, indicating less optimal interaction quality in egg donation families. These differences were found only between mothers and infants, and only when data from twin families were included. In the current study, mothers in both family types viewed themselves as high in warmth and joy, moderate to high in child focus and competence, and low in disappointment and anger.

Egg donation and IVF mothers both represented their children as affectionate and happy, with low levels of angry, rejecting, or controlling behaviors. Mothers also showed moderate levels of reflective functioning, coherence, and richness of perceptions. Similarly, egg donation and IVF fathers had representations of themselves that were moderate to high in warmth, joy, and confidence, and low in disappointment and anger, with representations of the child as affectionate and happy and neither rejecting nor controlling.

The findings diverge, however, in that egg donation mothers at age 2 showed higher levels of joy than genetically related mothers, a difference that was not present in the current sample. The positive representations of the parent—child relationship found in both family types is not surprising when considered in light of research highlighting the risk factors that can negatively affect maternal representations.

With regard to parent—infant interaction quality, differences emerged between family types on several of the EA dimensions for mother—infant interactions only. Specifically, egg donation mothers were less optimally sensitive and structuring than IVF mothers, and egg donation infants were less emotionally responsive and involving of the mother than IVF infants. These differences were of a medium effect size. Mothers in both groups showed particularly low hostility toward their infants i.

The present study, however, differed from previous studies in several important ways. First, the present study is the only one to control for the use of IVF, allowing for comparisons between genetic and nongenetic parenthood without the confounding factors of experience of infertility and fertility treatment.

Second, the current study is the only one to examine parent—child relationship quality in the early years using an observational measure. The interview measures used in prior studies may not have been sensitive enough to detect differences between groups. Observational measures provide more detailed examinations of the dynamic nature of parent—infant interactions, in which it may be more difficult for participants to present themselves in a socially desirable manner Kerig, It was hypothesized that infancy is the stage at which differences in parent—infant relationship quality between egg donation and IVF parents are most likely to occur.

Egg donation parents may face similar challenges, and it is possible that the differences seen between egg donation and IVF mothers in the current sample reflect these challenges. The process of feeling comfortable with the parental role may take longer for egg donation mothers than for IVF mothers, who do not have to manage the idea of nongenetic parenthood.

Egg Donation

Research with egg donation mothers of older children suggests that mothers may feel more comfortable with nongenetic motherhood over time Kirkman, Whether these differences remain over time will only be addressed through longitudinal research with the current sample. It is worth noting, however, that when observational measures were used in the UK Longitudinal Study of Assisted Reproduction Families to examine parent—child relationship quality at age 7, less positive mother—child interactions were found among egg donation dyads in comparison with sperm donation dyads where mothers and children share a genetic connection; Blake, Specifically, disclosing egg donation dyads scored lower on mother—child mutuality than disclosing sperm donation dyads, but there were only small differences in mutuality between family types in nondisclosing dyads.

Although no differences were found at age 14 in the observational assessment of mother—adolescent interaction quality, taken together with the present study, these findings may hint at a pattern of subtle differences indicating less optimal relationship quality between egg donation mothers and children in comparison to genetically related dyads. Although this may be a consequence of reduced statistical power, it is also possible that being a mother of twins may affect family functioning differently in different family types.

It is possible that being the parent of twins may have proved more challenging for egg donation mothers, and this was reflected in their interaction scores. Although the number of twin mothers in the current sample is too small to draw firmer conclusions, whether twin parenthood is a risk factor for less optimal interactions among egg donation mothers and infants merits further investigation with larger samples as twin births are a common outcome of fertility treatment Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, A limitation of the study is that no information is available about the families who declined to return reply slips to the researchers, so it is not possible to ascertain whether these families differed from those who contacted the researchers.

As families had been guaranteed that clinics had no knowledge of who participated in the study, it was not possible to obtain information about nonresponders without compromising the anonymity of participants. Even so, the current sample included some families who had decided not to disclose their treatment type to the child or others.

A further limitation is that not all fathers participated in the study, with fewer IVF than egg donation fathers taking part. It is possible that as egg donation children were more likely to be the first child in the household and parents had been trying longer to conceive them, egg donation fathers may have been more motivated to take part in research than IVF fathers. Statistical power was, thus, lower for comparisons between egg donation and IVF fathers.

For the analyses comparing parent—child relationship quality between egg donation and IVF mothers, sample sizes were adequate to detect a medium effect Cohen, That families were recruited from fertility clinics is also a study strength, as investigations of assisted reproduction families often rely on samples recruited through online registers or support groups, which may not be representative of assisted reproduction families in general.

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If you are considering the use of donor eggs to build your family, this is a must read. Experienced reproductive healthcare professionals Ellen Glazer and Evelina. Editorial Reviews. Review. “Evelina Sterling and Ellen Glazer have provided a comprehensive, to-the-point treatment of egg donation, one of the most recently.

The current study was the first to examine parent—child relationship quality in egg donation families in infancy at both the representational and observational levels. As an increasingly popular treatment option in the United States and United Kingdom, yet one not without specific concerns, an examination of parent—child relationship quality following this treatment type was long overdue.

Furthermore, as recent years have seen a sharp increase in the number of IVF cycles using donor eggs Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ; Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, , the study is particularly timely. That egg donation families showed more similarities than differences to IVF families in infancy should prove reassuring to clinicians, prospective egg donation parents, and families already created in this way. That subtle, yet significant, differences were found between egg donation and IVF mothers and their infants in interaction quality merits further investigation and suggests that nongenetic motherhood may pose particular challenges to some women during early parenthood.

Volume 90 , Issue 4. If you do not receive an email within 10 minutes, your email address may not be registered, and you may need to create a new Wiley Online Library account. If the address matches an existing account you will receive an email with instructions to retrieve your username. Child Development Volume 90, Issue 4. Empirical Article Open Access. Susan Imrie Corresponding Author E-mail address: si cam. Electronic mail may be sent to E-mail address: si cam. Search for more papers by this author. Vasanti Jadva University of Cambridge Search for more papers by this author.

Susan Golombok University of Cambridge Search for more papers by this author. We thank all the families who took part in this study, and Sarah Evans who provided research assistance.

Sperm Donation

One morning, my body gave out, crumpling to the floor, and pent-up tears released in a torrent. In that dark place, I stared directly into my self-loathing, mercilessly berating myself for being partner-less, for delaying childrearing, for being unable to conceive.

Once the full force of my anger peaked, a voice of compassion arrived, reminding me no step in my life had been a wasted step, now it was time to let go of any regrets and move forward. I began to look more closely at my knee-jerk reaction against an egg donor. When I set out to get pregnant, I believed a genetic connection was integral to my desire for motherhood.

Single Mom by Choice: An IVF Journey

But after a year of trying in vain for a miracle, I was ready to reconsider. More than anything I wanted to be a mother, but I wanted to be pregnant, too. Not so much because I wanted to pee every five minutes, gain 40 pounds and suffer back aches and swollen feet, but because I saw pregnancy as a consolation prize of sorts.

This is compared to what some sources say is a two percent chance of the average year-old woman naturally conceiving. To my grim prognosis, this knowledge buoyed me up and calmed my nerves—a welcome reprieve after the year of heartache. I had come to realize the mother-child relationship I desired was not dependent on a genetic connection.

I yearned for the intense, two-way street of love between mother and child, but we didn't need to share genes for that. If someone had handed me a baby to raise, I knew I would love that child like no other. And while adoption is a wonderful option for baby and parent alike, in my case, I had already let go of the idea of sharing parenthood with a partner, and I was beginning to let go of the genetic connection to my child, but if pregnancy was a possibility for me, I didn't want to let it go.

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Throughout the process, IVF brought my husband and I closer to each other. This fully updated second edition also includes recent developments in the field, including travelling for egg donation and the emerging field of epigenetics. Moira Gilligan. There are huge advantages in difference. What Is a Rainbow Baby? I still sometimes grieve the ideal of parenthood I thought I would have. I resent abortion warriors who think I am the reason that other mothers should be required to carry their children to term.

In fact, my gut instinct on this point is the subject of a burgeoning field, called fetal origins research. According to Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape The Rest Of Our Lives , mother and child are intimately linked during pregnancy, and conditions in utero play a major role in creating a foundation for health, intelligence, and temperament.

This idea can be daunting to pregnant women, putting unnecessary pressure on their daily choices. While I was pregnant, my fetus would, in some way, experience my thoughts and emotions a woman's mental state has been shown to affect fetal development. The baby would hear me, smell me and even taste my food. In light of this nine-and-a-half-month interlude, the genetic component felt even less important to me.

Meanwhile, my initial queries into adoption turned up numerous obstacles. I was also told it's more difficult to adopt as a solo mom. All together the prospect of adoption left me feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, while the option of egg donation was starting to feel exciting. I ditched my adoption research halfway through, knowing wholeheartedly I wanted to carry my baby, give birth and nurse my child.

Unfortunately, many women remain secretive about their infertility experiences, especially those who use egg donors to conceive. Perhaps they cannot face yet another curious person asking them overly personal questions.

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Perhaps they don't want to expose themselves to judgement for choosing pregnancy over adoption. Perhaps, now that they have their babies in their arms, they want to forget the trials that came before. The media feeds this myth with its portrayals of celebrity births later in life. A new study, conducted by researchers at NYU School of Medicine and NYU Langone Medical Center , reviewed 1, references to pregnancy, motherhood or fertility in three large-circulation magazines aimed at a female, reproductive-aged audience.

The references included stories about 10 adoptions and five gestational carriers with no mention of anyone experiencing infertility. I too could have remained silent about my son's origins, avoiding the curiosities and judgments from friends and strangers—all the Janets of the world.

To Tell, or Not to Tell, Your Egg Donor Baby?

But to do so would mean obfuscating the pride and joy I feel for my son and perpetuating a cycle of shame. Instead, I want to open the door to conversation. And, that conversation is one I have also had with my son since birth.