Egg Donation: To Tell or Not to Tell…
Almost 11 years ago, I was told that my IVF had failed and that my only option for carrying a baby was likely going to involve genetic material that was not my own. Ending up with a BFN (big, fat negative) was hard enough to hear but being told that my own eggs were probably not abundant, or even quality ones, was a punch to the gut. My body never really responded the way it should have to the follicle-stimulating medications.
My husband and I were devastated but a few hours after hearing this news, I was softening up to the idea of giving egg donation a try. I recognize that every person who takes the egg donor route has a different story, a different response, a different time frame, and a different action. My defense mechanism for handling bad news has always been to immediately look for a solution, and that is exactly what I did. The next day, I called our RE (reproductive endocrinologist) and told him we were open to exploring egg donation.
There are so many fears, questions, anxieties one feels when going through this process. One major fear was if or how to tell our future child that he/she was conceived via egg donation. Our fertility clinic strongly urged us to seek counseling regarding the whole process. We were lucky that we had a psychologist who “got” us. She gently made suggestions on when to tell the child (never assuming we would not tell), what books to read, what age to tell the future child, etc.
Fast forward several months later, I received a call that I finally got my BFP (big, fat positive)! I already knew because I cheated and took a home pregnancy test after my blood test at the doctor. Nine months later, our beautiful daughter arrived. She was absolutely perfect.
Our daughter was almost 5 when we sat her down and told her the story of her beginning. We read a book to her called, “Mommy, Was Your Tummy Big?” By Carolina Nadel, which was age-appropriate and very touching. I had practiced reading it a few times before we actually read it to her to “rehearse” and get any tears out of the way. It did not do a lot of good as I cried anyway as we read it to her. She asked a few questions and then ran off to play. All of our worries over how she would react to the news dissipated.
Our therapist’s suggestions were spot on. She suggested the following:
- Tell the child early. She advised us to tell our daughter around preschool age.
- Distinguish between donor and parent. I am forever grateful to the donor who gave us the gift of her eggs. We told our daughter that the donor’s eggs were the missing “ingredient” we needed to have her.
- Keep the lines of communication open. Even though my daughter really did not understand all the moving parts of the egg donor process as a five-year old, she really started asking questions as an 8, 9 and 10 year old. Again, our choice is to be very honest with her.
- Respect your child’s feelings. As our daughter gets older, we expect there will be more questions about her maternal genetics. As I mentioned above, our choice is to be open and honest with her.
Every egg donation journey is unique and special, but mostly, it is a journey built with love.
Carla (not her real name) is a former Donor Concierge client who shared her story with us to help others feel confident about their decision to choose an egg donation journey to create their families. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help find your egg donor, contact us today.