The Emotional Side of Egg Donation

April Peveteaux

too young to donate eggsThere are so many ways to bring a baby into the world today, and the most technologically advanced methods have only been available in recent years. Which means the long-term issues of infertility solutions are just sorting themselves out, and they can be incredibly complicated.

After the Twiblings story in NYT Magazine, an egg donor chose to speak out on Motherlode, as she felt the role of the egg donor was glossed over in the article that tackled the complicated roles of surrogates and the mother. I'll be honest in that I never expected an egg donor to have such complicated feelings. Then I gave it more than five minutes of thought, which was the egg donor's point.

This anonymous writer expresses her longing, now that she has her own children, to somehow be connected to the twins she helped a couple conceive while she was in her mid-20s.

I have no doubt that their mother has been a loving, kind parent, and I obviously would never want to disrupt that relationship. However, I increasingly feel that the twins, who are now teenagers, have a right to know about their creation story — if not now, then when they are adults.

Why, you may rightfully ask? The obvious and easy answer is knowledge of certain medical conditions and their management that have occurred in recent years. More difficult to justify, but deeply felt, it seems that we should have the opportunity to develop a kind of mother-child relationship.

When I was in college and incredibly broke, I considered answering an ad to be an egg donor. My own mother discouraged me, not because of these emotional and legal issues, but because of the potential toll it would take on my own health. In fact, we never discussed what it would be like to know some of my genetic material was out there in the form of a child.

Of course now that I have my own children, it's inconceivable that I wouldn't want to know what an egg of mine would produce. Which makes me think that people in their early 20s, to whom parenting is a far-off reality, shouldn't be making such huge decisions about their own offspring -- even though technically, it's only part of the puzzle.

Egg donor age requirements are quite strict, but on the younger end of the spectrum for optimal eggs. Although some facilities do allow women up to age 35 to be donors as well. What would be the magic number for an egg donor? Thirty? Were you sure of your reproductive future and emotional attachments at age 30? I was closer to my line of thinking now, but not having been a mother yet, the concept was still quite technical rather than emotional.

Regardless, a signed agreement is a signed agreement. And if you donate your eggs and agree to never let the future child(ren) learn about your existence, then that's what you have to do.

Without young donors many people would be childless, and I would never advocate a reversal of progress. And while it's possible that young sperm donors face these issues as well, that process is much more simple than the harvesting of eggs, and perhaps more easily forgettable.

I'm mostly just relieved that I never decided to donate my eggs, because I know I would want to know who came after. And I know I would have signed anything when I was too young to understand the complexities of motherhood. 

Would you be an egg donor?


Image via gniliep/Flickr

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