Are We Creating Designer Babies?
I recently talked with a researcher whose production company is planning a video report about egg donation and beauty. Her premise, it seems, is to show how intended parents are looking to improve the gene pool by picking the most beautiful egg donor, “so that they can have beautiful children because everyone knows beautiful people do better.”
She refused to entertain my point of view, based on 20 years in third-party fertility, that most intended parents are looking for someone who has traits and characteristics that are at least somewhat like themselves or their family.
It's unrealistic to suggest that who you choose for your egg donor doesn't matter or that an egg is just an egg. An egg is never just an egg. It is a cell that contains the germ of who one's future child will be. Although genetics alone won’t completely define who the child will be, when one must choose the factors in this equation they want to help the child they are creating meld into their family of origin.
Many of our clients choose beautiful donors for good reason. For example, Cara is a highly accomplished and beautiful Asian Indian woman in her early 40s. In her 20s she was a model who also attended an Ivy League law school. She didn't meet Mr. Right until she was 40. They started right away to try to have children but, 9 IVF cycles and three years later they realized that a donor egg was their best option to create the family they wanted. Cara searched through her clinic’s database but there were no donors who shared her physical characteristics and her academic drive.
Cara’s clinic suggested she choose a Hispanic donor, “one with dark hair and dark eyes, like you.” Cara was insulted at the suggestion that she renounce her Indian heritage. She wanted to find someone to whom she could relate. She and her husband came to Donor Concierge so they could vastly increase their chances of finding an Indian egg donor.
Our client’s desire is to create a baby who is at least a little like them and their family. We help intended parents like Cara and her husband review all possible egg donor candidates who are as close as possible to their ideal criteria. Only then were they able to let go of their genetic connection and complete an IVF egg donor cycle.
Sometimes the general public only hears about third-party fertility in terms of ‘designer babies’ and horror stories about exploitation. In my experience, these salacious headlines serve no purpose other than to further the general public’s misunderstanding about third-party fertility.
-Gail Sexton Anderson