Bio Child from Egg Donation and His Family Want to Meet
January 12, 2020 7:14 PM   Subscribe

In my last year of college in the mid-90s, I donated eggs through a clinic here in Portland, OR. At the time (age 21), I thought it sounded like sort of an interesting thing to do-- help an infertile couple out while also spreading my genes. Plus the (now paltry) $1,200 seemed like good compensation for what I figured would be a fairly minor role on my part.

The donation process itself was hell (I remember thinking what it involved for me physically was worth far more than $1,200), but I won't go into it here. The clinic operated on strict anonymity, so the couple who ended up choosing my eggs only had a picture of me and some basic information about me. The clinic folks told me that they had chosen me for my musicality. After I donated and they successfully conceived, they sent me flowers through the clinic with a very sweet card saying they'd always remember me with love. I tucked the card away in a book and went on with my life.

I never knew if the pregnancy went to term, so I didn't know if I actually had a kid out there or not. Over the years I of course wondered what became of my eggs, whether the resulting pregnancy resulted in a child, and what kind of person that child would become. Last Summer I read an article about how DNA services have brought together donors and the children that came from their genes, so I waited until's service was on sale and submitted a sample. I never really thought about what it would be like to actually make contact.

But he did.

Two days ago I got an email from a young man who said that his mother received a donated egg over 20 years ago that resulted in his birth. He had also submitted a sample to Ancestry and it had connected us with a 100% parent/child relationship. He very much wanted to make contact, he said. Holy shit, I said.

So I wrote back and this is definitely my kid. He looks like my grandfather and brother to a startling degree. He is incredibly musical, majoring in composition at a state music school. I am a life-long classical music dork. Within hours of making contact we were texting about Bach's Goldberg Variations.

He tells me he and his mom found me together and they BOTH want to meet me. Soon. I am not sure I'm prepared for this. I donated eggs in a sort of detached way, thinking it was sort of neat, not expecting to actually have this person in my life. I am terrified that my detached attitude from 23 years ago will prevail and he'll feel rejected by his donor. I really want to get to know this person and to help him in any way know about his maternal heritage. I'm just kind of ...startled and scared? How do I not fuck this up?
posted by hollisimo to Human Relations (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Be yourself.
posted by Dolley at 7:32 PM on January 12 [5 favorites]

I also donated eggs and have three egg babies as I call them. This situation has never happened to me but I feel that it is important to stress to you that your boundaries matter. You are under no obligation to meet with them or develop a relationship if you do not feel safe or happy to do so. It is completely outside of the boundaries of the relationship you entered when you donated your eggs. Do what is right for you.
posted by supermedusa at 7:40 PM on January 12 [20 favorites]

hey, adoptee here, involved with and engaged with birth identity stuff that relates to this.

You absolutely have the right to say no, or to take your time. Taking your time is OK! Believe me, they don’t want to scare you off.

They may have some unexamined expectations about what sort of relationship might result from contact. Think about that a bit, and maybe ask them what they want and expect. It’s not improbable that he and she have differing emotional expectations and needs and that they may not be super clear on that.

Beyond this, I do definitely think it’s important and worthwhile to accept contact. It can definitely be fraught. I am not donor-conceived. In trying to understand how issues of hidden or lost birth identity can impact people involved with this as a lived experience, it is my impression that donor-conceived people constitute a minority within a minority, and as one might expect, can struggle with that. My guess is that over time, as more adoptees engage with our questions of birth identity, so will more donor-conceived. I hope someone, or several, on MeFi who is donor conceived swing by to offer their views.

Finally, while I cannot assure you that everything will be OK no matter what choice you make, I can assure you that you should feel in control of your choices. Whatever choice you make is the right choice for you.
posted by mwhybark at 7:41 PM on January 12 [7 favorites]

The good news is that you really want to get to know this person and to help him in any way know about his maternal heritage. So that's good - your 2 selves are both in agreement that a good thing happened here. The startle & shock will go away soon. Talking through it will help. You can get all of that out of your system before you meet them, and then you will be ready. Good luck!
posted by bleep at 7:43 PM on January 12

You've never had any expectations, so just keep doing that. That has been the thing that has I think made this especially tough on my friends who are not quite in this situation and more the "23 And Me introduced me to siblings I didn't know about" - it's hard not to imagine a movie-grade Happily Ever After in the initial flush of relationship but in reality most people don't even engage that much with their lifelong siblings so it's okay to be a little conservative, but also okay to just see what happens as long as nobody overcommits.

There are some forums out there since commercial DNA testing had dramatically changed the landscape of who we are and who we're related to. Gaby Dunn made an interesting documentary about kinda something like this.

It's true that your boundaries get to be your boundaries, and you might decide to let this initial head-rush pass before you make real choices about what to do. You don't have to have a relationship at all. Unless he's in a serious medical crisis right now there's no information or bone marrow or organs you need to (maybe) help him with in an emergency fashion, so there is time to take this slowly and there is no harm in taking it slowly. And it is fine to tell them that, to give you some time to think.
posted by Lyn Never at 7:48 PM on January 12

Take your time. It’s ok to say you would like to meet down the road, but that things happened so fast you are still adjusting and would prefer to talk back and forth over email for a while.
posted by sallybrown at 8:03 PM on January 12 [6 favorites]

Donor conceived person here. The worst rejection is saying you won't meet. Agreeing to meet and being open and being yourself and being honest is everything.

I met my (sperm) donor last year in my mid-30s and it was confusing and rewarding and amazing and bizarre and it might be all those things or none of them for you as well. But please, show up, be yourself, and let him take the lead on what comes next. He's most likely not looking for anything other than to know who/ where he came from. To look in another person's eyes and simply see yourself reflected back after years and just... wondering, it can bring such a strange comfort.

Thank you for connecting with this family.
posted by danapiper at 9:13 PM on January 12 [25 favorites]

I’m an adoptee and I get why this feels very important and emotional and strange and scary and thrilling. For me, it has just been very calming to meet my blood relatives. It’s been lovely to look at old photos albums and see faces that reflect myself and my daughter. It’s quieted the nagging wondering that has been with me my whole life. I’m lucky that these people are friendly and welcoming. They also aren’t stifling. My birth mom it has been a joy to meet. But she didn’t take over as my mom! Sadly, she passed away last year but that makes our time together even sweeter and I’m glad I didn’t wait longer even though we were both nervous.

There’s no script for this so you’re doing great. You are even less of an actual presence for this boy than my birth mother was to me but you played a very big role. You are now both a simple fact of each other’s lives and you did a kind and wonderful thing (definitely under-compensated!!).

A friend went through surrogacy with a donated egg and sperm and keeps in touch with the family who adopted the child. He’s 5 or 6 and the whole family went to visit a year ago. She says that she feels a connection but not a “he’s my son” connection. I understand the egg donor is in touch as well.

I wonder if the local surrogacy or donor clinic might have some resources for you? It seems Reddit has a group for everyone, perhaps there’s a donor support group? Also, I’m in Portland, feel free to memail me if you want to chat or if you want to get coffee and just talk about it, I’m all ears.
posted by amanda at 5:57 AM on January 13 [4 favorites]

I would look at the resources on the Donor Sibling Registry web page for ideas and support. DSR
posted by medusa at 8:03 AM on January 13

You’re under no obligation to meet, but you do have critical medical family history to share - his own genetic likelihood of disease that will affect his life. That’s another reason why he may be curious about you.
posted by missmary6 at 11:19 AM on January 13 [3 favorites]

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