My husband Michael and I used an anonymous egg donor to conceive our twin girls. At the time it felt like the right decision but now, looking back, I’d choose to use a donor who we could be in contact with. I’m not ashamed of our decision. I don’t regret our decision. But I would do it differently if I could.
When we decided to use a donor to have our family in 2015, there was not as much information at our finger tips regarding donor conceived adults and their experiences. We were encouraged to be open with our children about being donor conceived (which we are) but the idea that we would know who our donor was terrified me.
- I didn’t want to know who she was.
- I didn’t want to worry about “running into her” or seeing someone on the street and thinking “she looks familiar...maybe she is our donor”.
- I was terrified that if we knew who the donor was, it wouldn’t make me their “real” mom. I felt threatened by her and her existence.
(I share even more about my fears, concerns and learnings on episode 07. We Used an Anonymous Donor. I'd Do It Differently If I Could of Infertility Crossroads)
Now that I’ve read more, learned more, listened more I know that having the option of contacting our donor and finding potential siblings is something that is incredibly important.
The organization We Are Donor Conceived publishes a study every year where they survey donor conceived people to better understand their feelings, perspectives, and experiences of being conceived via gamete donation.
In the 2020 survey, they found that when donor conceived persons are told before the age of three that they are donor conceived it makes them more likely to experience this part of who they are in a positive way instead of negative. However, it does not take away the curiosity or desire to know more about their donor and donor siblings. In addition, the survey was very clear that donor conceived people do not agree with anonymous donation situations and 81% of them said they believe anonymous agreements should be abolished (Ref 1).
As recipient parents, I care deeply about my child’s experience and how my choices and decisions have an impact on their lives. I am so appreciative of these donor conceived individuals who are sharing their experiences, even the hard ones, because it is making it better for future generations of donor conceived children and their families.
If you used an anonymous donor here are some things you can do to support your donor conceived children going forward.
- Tell them early and often that they are donor conceived. This opens up the lines of communication with your child from the very beginning and helps to make this a topic you and they feel comfortable talking about together.
- Tell them you used an anonymous donor (when it is age appropriate).
- Listen, listen, listen without judgement. Let them feel what they are feeling and validate those feelings. No feeling is right or wrong it just is and it is important to validate and listen to those feelings.
- Do your own emotional work. Using a donor is filled with loss for the recipient parents. Until you work through your own stuff, it is almost impossible to support your children.
- Do what you can to support your child in finding their donor and/or donor siblings. Help them get a DNA test, reach to your clinic or donor bank to see if there is away to contact the donor, etc.
Michael and I made the best decision we could with the information that we had at the time when we decided on our donor. If I could go back and do it again I would choose a donor we had the option of contacting. But I can’t go back, I can only go forward. And as a mama to donor conceived children I move forward by learning, growing, continuing to do the hard work and support them the best way I can.
Ref 1: 10 Highlights From The 2020 We Are Donor Conceived Survey, accessed September 30, 2021 https://www.wearedonorconceived.com/2020-survey-top/10-highlights-from-the-2020-we-are-donor-conceived-survey/