Considering egg donation to 2 close friends - seeking experience
August 16, 2020 11:50 AM   Subscribe

I am considering donating eggs to a wonderful couple of friends who are looking to start their own family and would appreciate advice and reflections from anyone who has firsthand experience being in this position.

A couple relevant points: I know this couple extremely well (we are all close friends), and I am confident that their parenting style/ideology/beliefs are in line with how I would hypothetically raise kids of my own. I know that they will be excellent parents and will be able to provide full emotional and economic support for any children they have. If I decide to help them start a family, the current understanding is that I would be present in any children’s lives as an “aunt” type figure (which is what both the dads and I would like).

However, I am in my late 20s and do not have children of my own. I am also completely undecided as to whether I would ever want my own family in the future. I am somewhat concerned that since I’ve never had kids I will be unable to predict how I will actually react to having “biological” progeny. If anyone has had experience being in a similar situation I would appreciate an account of your emotional experience being a biological parent while not being a parent who functions as the legal guardian.

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posted by anonymous to Human Relations (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
i donated eggs in my early 20s. i was pretty sure i'd never want my own kids, so thought of it as kind of an interesting science experiment that would hopefully help out an infertile couple. the big difference from your case is that my donation was anonymous and i assumed i'd never have any contact with my eventual biological offspring. i'm 45 now, meaning any of the children who resulted from my donation would be in their 20s.

last summer i read that children who came from donor sperm or eggs often want to know their donor, so i submitted my DNA to and didn't think too much more about it. earlier this year i got an email from a young man who said Ancestry showed that we have a parent/child relationship. he very much wanted contact, so i wrote back and we ended up meeting shortly afterward.

to say meeting my 22-year-old biological child was intense is, of course, an understatement. there doesn't really exist a historical precedent for this kind of relationship-- someone whose genes are half from me, who looks like me and shares many of my characteristics, but who i had no part in raising-- so it's been interesting to wade in. his mom also very much wants contact with me, but the pandemic shut everything down before that could happen.

the feeling of instant recognition when i first met my bioson was not something i expected. he was in his last year of college majoring in a subject very close to my heart. we spent the day together, cautiously getting to know one another, and it was at once bizarre and life-affirming. i gave him a couple of the books his biological grandmother wrote, filled in a lot of the blanks he's had all his life about his maternal family, and got to show him pictures of his great-grandfather, who he strongly resembles.

by the end of the visit, he revealed that he's not my only biochild, but one of THREE! i feel cautious about forging a relationship with my biochildren and their families, mostly because i'm uncertain what kind of role i want to play in their lives. i'm grateful to know them, so happy that my genes will continue after i'm gone, and fascinated to see how the science experiment is turning out!

feel free to memail me if you have questions-- i know my situation's different, but i'm glad to answer anything else you want to know.
posted by hollisimo at 4:53 PM on August 16, 2020 [27 favorites]

Not completely on point, but we donated our leftover embryos from IVF cycles about 10 years ago. We have an agreement with the embryo donation place that they will let us know if someone chooses our embyros. We have never been contacted so I'm fairly certain that they have not been chosen. Even if they were, who knows if they would be become viable children.

At the time of the donation, I felt very virtuous doing this because it would mean allowing some other couple the chance to have a family and these embryos would not go to waste.

Now.... if I had to do it over again, I would not. It would mess with my mind knowing that my biological child was walking out there and I wasn't right there with them every step of the way. It's weird how becoming a mother completely changes your perspective (both in the predicted and unpredicted ways). I feel like I would have some unfinished part of me out there and I can't do anything about it.

I would think very carefully about this. Even if you are able to have a relationship with the child as an auntie, what happens if you want out? What if relations with your friends sour in later years and you are unable to maintain a relationship with the child? Will there be a legal agreement regarding the donation? Is it even legal in your state/country?

All signs are pointing to a NO from me. I am not you so YMMV.
posted by tafetta, darling! at 7:48 PM on August 16, 2020

Another not exactly on-point response. I am the mother of a donor-conceived child. All the literature and counselling available on this suggests that it's a bad idea to have you in the child's life without telling them that you are the egg donor. It kind of sounds like that's your plan. If that is your plan, there's a very high chance it will end with the child feeling betrayed by their parents and by you.

If I misunderstood and you do intend for the child to know, then there are still other things to consider (a la tafetta darling), of course, but at the very least you won't have the child feeling lied to.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 8:01 PM on August 16, 2020 [3 favorites]

current understanding is that I would be present in any children’s lives as an “aunt” type figure (which is what both the dads and I would like).

so if there will be a surrogate birth mother in addition to you as donor, I imagine it will not be anyone who also expects to maintain a relationship with the child? I still would probably want to think about my reactions to someone else (other than the two prospective parents) carrying and laboring with "my" child and being their first mother. even if they are not going to be a mother after delivery and you aren't either.

the aunt position sounds ideal in many ways. the potential for complexity is with a potential child who wants a mother and turns to you as closest approximation of one, knowing the biological relationship as well as the social one (I assume you would not lie to this child.) it won't necessarily be hard to partially detach and disclaim authority over the kid if you're prepared for all this, but managing the child's independent wants and demands if they don't line up with yours and with their dads' might be tricky.

plus, who is going to be named as the kid's guardian-in-case-of-tragedy in their dads' wills? you or not you, which would be more worrisome?

you have probably looked into the medical aspects of this already. I don't know if you expect payment as part of a friendly arrangement, but women get paid for this for a reason. be sure you're physically prepared for something that might be unpleasant.
posted by queenofbithynia at 8:55 PM on August 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

I am the recipient of an egg donor so I won’t push my own personal experience on you as it’s probably not that relevant. But I highly highly urge you to find a therapist/counselor who has experience in this process and since you know your recipients, I would recommend you go to a few sessions together.

It was a required step in our journey and I found it really valuable. We had already made up our minds so it was not to help us decide. What it did was give us a opportunity to process our feelings, both positive and negative. The therapist asked us really good questions to think and talk about. No right answers, but very important to consider. It made us more confident about the decision and I also feel more confident about how to discuss this process with my daughter.

Which is another point I’d like to make. I would highly recommend you consider being transparent about your relationship with the child. You can still call yourself an auntie, so it’s not clear you were planning on doing this anyway. But the current guidance is to be open with kids about this, from as early as possible. There are age appropriate ways to introduce the concept slowly and over time so that it just becomes a part of who they are and not a big revelation or discovery, which is what you would want to avoid. This is another reason getting in touch with an experienced therapist would be advisable. They will be able to guide you on how you want to approach such discussions with a future child and feel confident and comfortable to do so.

The fertility clinic that you will be undergoing the treatment with should be able to give you recommendations on who to get in touch with.
posted by like_neon at 1:06 AM on August 17, 2020

Oh and it sounds like you are still in the early stages of this decision. Please include research into the physical process of egg donation. It is invasive and intense (I went through it myself for IVF). Queenofbithynia is correct in pointing out the financial implications of this transaction. You will likely miss work. You will need additional medical tests and medicine. You should see a therapist like I suggested. These are all things you should be fairly compensated for and not donated as part of this generous gift to your friends. If you are not comfortable in entering such discussions with them, please do not proceed.
posted by like_neon at 1:15 AM on August 17, 2020 [4 favorites]

I was asked to donate by close friends and decided against it. What swayed me:
*I was in my 20s, nowhere near trying for kids myself, and worried about the medical aspect. I suffered a bad reaction to the pill during the brief period I took it (depression, teariness, acne and some hairloss) and was warned by doctors that I was likely to be very sensitive to side effects from the hormones involved in the donation. I was single and didn't have anyone to just be there for the 3am tears (calling the couple wouldn't be the same) if it was an awful experience.
*The couple have a little nephew who I adore (I'm friends with the whole family). He's exactly my kind of sweet quirky kid (and I'm not really a kid person). The couple were very very good with him, but not as completely enamoured by him as I was. That started to bother me and it made me realise how an ultra micromanagey instinct might kick in if they were raising my biological child.
*I didn't think my parents would be very comfortable with navagating the relationship of being kinda grandparents and I didn't want to have to manage everyone's discomfort.

I don't regret my decision although I am planning on trying for kids myself within the next couple of years. If that doesn't work out maybe I will.
posted by hotcoroner at 4:28 AM on August 17, 2020 [2 favorites]

Mod note: Comment removed - OP looking for personal stories and has included an email address if you want to contact them for other reasons.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:01 PM on August 17, 2020

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