Monday, April 16, 2012

Would-be Egg 'Donor' imagines a child growing up with genetic strangers


Lorraine
SEE UPDATE AT END OF POST
Why would you not donate your eggs?  The profit is great--$10,000!--the risk seems at first blush small (if inconvenient), and you seem... magnanimous. So why not do it?

An awareness of what is lost when there is not shared blood led one young woman, Simi Lampert,  to change her mind about selling her eggs. Calling her a donor is such BS the head spins. Yet what she became aware of as she considered marketing her eggs is exactly what is ignored in adoption: how being with genetic strangers marks one as different. The other. Not from the same stock. Together but separate. From "Why I Couldn’t Donate My Eggs" on Tablet, A New Read on Jewish Life:

"My siblings and I were raised by my mother, who was an only child, and my stepfather. One of the things about my childhood that’s always bothered me, something I wish could be different, is that my step-cousins never really felt like my cousins. (Emphasis added.)

"I’d go to family reunions and feel like the outsider. They shared something deeper than I did; they understood each other in some indescribable way. I came into the family when I was already 4 and I didn’t have the same nose, hair, or personality quirks that they did.
"The contrast with my father’s family is stark. My father died when I was 3, and his only brother lives in Israel. When I make my trips to see my cousins there, I finally understand what having an extended family felt like. My siblings and I were raised together; it makes sense that we share a sense of humor and a love for nerdy things. But six boys and girls halfway across the world, getting our jokes and having our orthodontist’s dream teeth? That was pure genetics. I felt at home in their house like nowhere else, except for my own home.

"Thinking about my family, I realized that I’d be taking away from that egg—that future child, even future adult—what I missed so much in my life. Suddenly, I felt protective over that person; I felt the need to keep it safe from harm and hurt. I felt the connection everyone else assumed I’d have all along. And once those emotions were involved, I couldn’t take them back."
Jane
We suppose the fertility industry would respond with something like:  "The child won't know all his genetic relatives (he might know the half that came from his father, though) but without the egg Lambert generously provided (at risk to her health, even her life), he wouldn't have life itself. Unlike placing a child for adoption, the egg she donates is not a child. It's just a bit of tissue which is replaced every month." The industry might even hint of the possibility that Lambert and the DNA carrier might connect--after all it's not uncommon today for those born through artificial insemination to find their sperm donor. That was the scenario in the movie The Kids Are All Right. The clinic might even allow Lambert to give permission for it to disclose her name if the adult child requests it.

However, elsewhere in the world saner minds prevail, and children are not so willy-nilly created with an ova here and a sperm there. The United Kingdom has outlawed anonymous donations, and a judge in British Columbia ruled anonymous donations unconstitutional. Unfortunately, the UK law has not had the intended result according to an April 16 article in Time, "Frozen Assets." Donations in the UK have fallen far below the demand, spurring the American sperm industry to plug the gap. We hope that the US will eventually outlaw anonymous donations as well and other countries will follow suit. We suspect, though, that India, where there are wombs for rent, won't be one of them.


Lambert came to her decision after a great deal of push back from friends and family who instinctively knew that egg donation is freaky, and would surely have unwanted consequences. Her concern about the child carrying her DNA goes beyond wanting the child to know his cousins or to be sure the kid is "all right." It's similar to emotion mothers who lose their children to adoption experience. It is allowing a human being to be created without exercising the right, and accepting the responsibility, to nurture him. It's knowing that she didn't just sell an interchangeable and expendable body part, but a slice of her soul and DNA into future generations. That knowledge would remain long after the money she received is long gone.--Lorraine and Jane

UPDATE
This morning (4/17/12) on the Today Show: The twin babies of an American woman, born in Israel through in-vitro fertilization, are being denied U.S. citizenship because there is no proof that either the egg donor or sperm donor is American. From Today.com:
Ellie Lavi, an American citizen living in Israel, wanted her children to be American as well, despite the fact that they were born in Israel. But her twin daughters, Maya and Shira, now 2 ½ years old, are unable to gain status as U.S. citizens. Lavi, a single mother in her 40s, used a donor sperm and egg from a clinic in Israel to conceive her children through in-vitro fertilization. Now, the U.S. State Department is refusing to grant citizenship to her children because she is unable to prove that any of the donors are American citizens.
NBC’s Martin Fletcher reports....Born to American mom, in-vitro twins denied citizenship

______________________
From FMF:
Egg Donor or Egg Seller? Fulfilling Another Woman's Dream or Filling Your Pockets
Creating children, no matter how in the quest to have a family
Egg donations on the Rise in Tough Times
When Daddy's Name is Donor...
Anonymous baby making in British Columbia is outlawed
________________________
Source: Why I Couldn’t Donate My Eggs
Time: "Frozen Assets"

19 comments:

Dana Seilhan said...

I read that article. The racism in the comments, and the demand that she be a good little breeder for the Jewish people, were horrifying.

This is what we're up against. Be a good dumb little breeder--even if you don't have the baby yourself, make sure someone else can have it for you. Uh... no. My children are MY children. Take your "nation" and shove it.

Lorraine Dusky said...

See also:
Born to American mom, in-vitro twins denied citizenship

Link at new add to post.

Kristi said...

I have such a hard time with the whole "entitlement" idea of a baby. Whether adopted, donated or artificially created, babies have become just another product on the market.

maryanne said...

I know of one egg donor case that is fully open. A friend of mine who has since passed away told me about her daughter in CA who used donor eggs and her husband's sperm to have twins. She was in her forties, the donor was a college student, They met and stayed in touch and the donor has met the kids. My friend said they would not do it any other way, and she was always very sympathetic to me as a birthmother.
Everyone in the family and the donor are Jewish. I think this is unusual but it seems to be working.

Angie said...

The connection between being an adoptee and the dislocation we feel and being born of an unknown donor and egg is the same.
Why knowingly bring such children into the world? Why set out to create pain just because you want a baby? That woman is selfish and unthinking and i hope the state department doesn't change its policy.

MrsTarquinBiscuitbarrel said...

Dana Seilhan, chazak chazak (rough translation: W00T!?!) to you for your bluntly excellent comments left at Tablet.

The excerpt from Simi Lampert's piece that appeared here moved me so much that I had to find the article and read the whole thing. http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-life-and-religion/96591/why-i-couldnt-donate-my-eggs/

Certainly having her own children understandably seems a long time off for Simi, but I was heartened that she didn't undergo the painful and risky egg-retrieval procedure. And I liked her reasoning: she is blessed with relatives whom she cherishes, and the idea of a half-Simi, lost to her/his biological family, ultimately seemed too sad an outcome to her, not worth the price.

When I first read a lengthy article in The New Yorker about egg "donation" by young women, for prospective parents who had a checklist of high-end criteria for the egg's owner, I became very distraught. A wise friend--wiser than I at that moment--said, "That might have been you if the retrieval procedure had been available when you were young and broke. Don't you see?"

Of course, she was right. I would have been tempted by the money, but I like to think that I would have reached the same conclusions as Simi.

dpen said...

I saw the video on a morning news station this morning about the twins not be able to come to the United States. My first reaction was ...good...maybe now the issue of annonamity will be able to be discussed. At the very least these little girls should know who they are and what their ethnic origin is. The brain washing that goes on in adoption and for the donor conceived boggles my mind. The humans that are result of both adoption and donor conception are really not seen as entitled to what is theirs...their birthright.

Whats happens 20 years down the road when the "donor" realizes that the lousy 10,000 dollars she recieved is gone and the result is a dughter or son. How is the child going to feel when both sets of mothers lay claim...and the "child" does't react in the manner that either or both want them to...and just what does a donor child have to be "grateful" about.about....

Anonymous said...

Same thing an adoptee has to be grateful for being raised by genetic strangers or in some cases half strangers. For those strangers wanted you far more
than your own mother bull shit.

Barbara Thavis said...

When I read this article the thing that jumped out at me was the use of the words "donated eggs". Why is payment of $10,000 allowed? Either eggs cannot be sold or they can. There are so many fights to fight, it's hard to figure out where to start and then I don't do anything. Sigh.
It is similar to paying mothers expenses while they are pregnant. We can't pay her for the baby so instead we'll put her up in luxury accommodations so she will be so indebted to us she will immediately hand over that womb wet baby. All the while she will think it was her idea! Brilliant. Now let’s send her a post birth basket to tie a bow on the whole dang thing!

Anonymous said...

And yet as a teenager and the product of donor eggs, I find myself hearing from this forum that I should not even exist?

That feeling a disconnect or being uncomfortable at family gatherings is somehow more offensive than being forever "nothing", frozen, precious, yet not living.

That if I were to weigh the two choices of not being alive or being left to freeze for eternity, somehow the greater evil is feeling left out?

Wow, okay then.

Not sure there is even room for my perspective here, but here it is just the same.

Liv

Lorraine Dusky said...

Obviously everybody who was born from purchased eggs and purchased sperm would say, yes, they would rather be born...but encouraging this kind of "birth" is not a good plan for the health of the planet and the overall emotional well-being of the people who inhabit it. Of course your comments are welcome here. And it is good that you, Liv, sound healthy.

Do you have have possibility of discovering what "stock" you are from? Or is everything locked behind a door called "anonymous"? Have these questions of identity and heredity ever bothered you? I am not being accusatory, we mothers who lost children to adoption are simply curious.

Yet if the world keeps going like this, people will need to do DNA analysis before they marry and procreate. Much--dare I say most--of this being necessary is because people today wait to long before they try to have children the old-fashioned, natural way. After other avenues do not work, they turn to buying body parts, which is what egg "donation" is, just as much as buying a liver on the open market. Only the end result is a living, breathing human being.

Anonymous said...

Kind of ghoulish.

Stock? Sold body parts? Are you trying to scare me?

Following with the slant of the comments I came to feel that the people commenting really had nothing to lose by speaking out against donor (or purchased?) embryos.

I do.

I am that statistic and I count too.

The rest? May or may not come. I "know" some of the details and actually have a very detailed medical background.

I was donated and am years away from marrying or worrying over tests. :) But I have to believe that whoever I choose to marry won't have a problem helping to find those answers with me. I would not choose them if they did.

I am healthy, thanks.
And happy. Happy someone made the decision to donate their embryos after their family was complete. They helped complete my family and gave me a chance at life.

Its not simple when you think about it like you are.

But for me? It is simple. Here I am and had the family that considered donating felt the same as many here, I just wouldn't "be".

I'm glad I am.

maybe said...

Re: Anonymous/Liv who was conceived by donor conception - no one here thinks you should not exist or should be frozen for eternity.

You stated that you are "happy someone made the decision to donate their embryos after their family was complete." This leads me to believe that your situation was a case of unused fertilized eggs/embryos that were never implanted in a woman who used in-vitro in order to conceive. This is a different scenario from the young women in the article making a proactive decision NOT to donate eggs, therefore there is nothing that will be frozen for eternity. She may choose to reproduce naturally but those eggs that are left in her ovaries will remain there until her death. She made a very considered decision about how she feels about any offspring that she may bring into this world (by whatever means) which I think is very commendable.

Betty said...

"Glad to be alive" is always a compelling argument for egg/sperm/embryo donation. But under that logic, we should all have as many kids as possible so we don't deprive anyone of life.

maybe said...

I am "glad to be alive" but if I had never been born would I know the difference? Who knows, maybe I would be "glad to be...."(fill in the blank).

ms. marginalia said...

Liv, I am glad you are here and commenting. Your viewpoint is welcome.

I am an adoptee. There have been times when I wished I weren't here and alive. When I was rejected most brutally by my first family, I would rather have been aborted. That is my honest opinion. The pain of having my family wish that I didn't exist was hard for me to bear. Things have changed for me, and I feel differently now, but I reserve the right to change my mind again. Please don't take what people write here about ethics in general as an attack about you personally. I think we can all work together to bring about change, and I do believe that the adoption/assisted reproductive industries, as they exists, are very, very flawed and corrupt: they are focused on money, not people.

Perhaps you are a "snowflake" baby and have more extensive family medical information than a young 20-something woman would be able to give. Let me warn you, however, that medical information in families is never "complete" at the time of donation, and things can change radically. You deserve to know everything there is to know, and it's important. It could save your life.

When I was born in 1969, my family medical history contained no information about lupus, MS, congestive heart failure, myesthenia gravis, Type II Diabetes, and other conditions/diseases that came to affect first and second degree family members over the next forty years. Nor did it have information about the clotting disorder that would nearly kill me.

Not having access to family members over time can be a very dangerous thing for one's health. I warn people not to have a false sense of security. You are young and healthy now. I was healthy until I was 38, and then really needed information that I COULD NOT GET.

Whatever your interest in knowing/not knowing about your donor, please take care of your health.

Robin said...

Slightly off topic but still relevant.

There was a recent news story that IVF children are at a significantly higher risk of birth defects.

Here is one of the comments to the story.

"Even with IVF, my ex-wife and I couldn't have children. However we adopted our son and it was the best thing we ever did. Though we're not together anymore, we both agree that we have the best son anyone could have hoped for. There are many children in our great country that needs good parents."

So many things went through my head after I read this comment. First of all, this couple tried IVF first. Having a bio-kid was their first desire with adoption being a last resort. Secondly, the couple are divorced. I wonder how the child's first mother feels about the fact that the two-parent family that she thought her child needed no longer exists.

Also, I often notice how APs describe their a-child as just being the greatest kid who ever lived. It's as if they are defensive (i.e. our child is wonderful even if s/he is of unknown origin, was born out of wedlock, was born to two dumb teenagers, etc.) I've noticed that parents of bio-kids that they kept feel more comfortable saying that their kid can be a pain in the arse sometimes.

Robin said...

In line with what Ms. Marginalia said, my bio-relatives were also interested in my health history. It works both ways. Conditions that I have they may be more predisposed to as well. It really is dangerous to live one's whole life without an up-to-date medical history. Human beings are not blank slates mentally or physically.

Lorraine Dusky said...

Robin: what you say about natural parents feeling free to complain about their children is true; often adoptive parents are too defensive to be true to their real feelings about their children who were adopted.