DNA Doesn't Make a Family


Both of my kids are biologically mine and my husband's. There are times I've actually felt guilty that we had our own biological kids instead of adopting, especially knowing how many children out there need homes.

I also know that I couldn't be a surrogate mother because a lot of my bonding happened during pregnancy and birth, but at the same time, I have no problem donating my eggs without even being slightly bothered by the idea that I'd never meet the children that come of it ... or really even caring what happens to those eggs at all.

I think that's because, for me, it's not the DNA-aspect that makes a family at all.

I no more consider a child born of my donated eggs to be mine than I would someone who wore a wig from my donated hair to be a part of me. Okay, so obviously not quite the same, but my point is, I don't feel that my eggs automatically equal my baby or my family. I'm well aware that there are many people who don't share this emotion and very much feel that the donated eggs would create their child, which is why often, they aren't allowed to be egg donors.

I would love to be a surrogate, to have another chance at a healthy and mentally-healing birth, but I also know that I couldn't carry a child for nine months and birth them and then hand them over to someone else. Women who do are amazing, but it's just not for me ... I could, however, do it for my sister, for example, where I'd see that baby grow up and love it.

While the initial idea of loving an adopted child as much as my biological children is hard to fathom, I think I absolutely would. I've seen many women who do, and it's amazing. I also understand that often women go for infants not just because they'd like to avoid problems in behavior the child may have gained over a life through foster care and adoption homes, but I think it's easier for a parent to bond with a baby with simplistic, primal needs and no voice than with an older child.

People who adopt are amazing, and foster mothers are exceptional. I can't imagine caring for children and inevitably bonding with them, knowing they could be taken back from you, and sometimes put into a less-than-ideal situation, at any given moment. I think just the act of caring for a child often is the act of falling in love with a child, and that's where I just don't quite understand feeling as if the DNA of an egg means the child is somehow yours. After all, if you had to use an egg donor, does that make the baby any less yours because the child doesn't have your DNA?

I don't know ... for me, it's all about the experience, the bonding, the care, the love ... not cells. So I don't always quite understand people who can't donate eggs because they couldn't deal with having "a child of theirs out there" or people who seek out parents who never cared for them. I respect their feelings, but don't quite understand. My husband's father signed over all rights after not being involved at all when he was a baby, and while we're seeking him out half-heartedly, it's out of curiosity, and especially for health information since we have children of our own, not because he feels like he's the father he never knew and needs in his life.

Do you feel DNA links you as a family, or that experience does? Or somewhere in between?


Image via daithifortytwo/Flickr

adoption, emotions, fathers, motherhood


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Rebecca Fisher

no dan doesn't make a parent my childrens dad is a total a-hole and only sees them when he can be bothered it's loving and caring for a child that makes you a parent

Tara Kruusi

In a country where you have women on government assistance using IVF to give birth to sextuplets, where single teen moms run rampant with their little living dolls, where babies are left in dumpsters... it seems fairly rational to say that for many people DNA doesn't matter.
Personally, being a parent means love, attention and care. Any idiot can be can a donor egg/sperm. It's the feelings you have for the child that matter, not whose dna is coursing through their veins...

Mi-jo Sayegh

Once again nice article, love makes a family, not DNA, my dad married my mom when I was 2 years old and adopted me, he is my dad, and no one could ever tell me othwerwise, and he is the best dad in the world :)

Tara Dukaczewicz

I agree, love makes a family. I have two step sons that I have raised since they were 11 and 12 and I have 2 boys that I birthed myself. My oldest will be going to college this year. and my youngest is 9 months. They are my children and I love them with my whole heart.

nonmember avatar Anon

As an adoptive mom, I've given this a lot of thought and I think it's more nuanced than that. Yes, my kids are as much mine as if they had my DNA. But at the same time, their connection with their birth parents is not canceled out. Someone carried them for 9 months, made an adoption plan, and took steps over many months to carry out that plan. I'm sure she hasn't forgotten her child or stopped wondering / caring about her well-being. I also assume the birth father has some feeling about having a child out there somewhere. ... I would think being an egg donor would not be too different from being that bio father who didn't decide to parent. Just knowing there's a piece of me out there somewhere. It wouldn't stop me from donating, though. I just think it would be kinda cool, and unlike creating an unwanted pregnancy, it would be helping someone.

nonmember avatar JessicaC

dna does not make a family, love does.
my husband and i met i had just gotten out of a long term relationship from which i had 1 son. my son was 2 yrs old, and my husband gave him something he never had- a father! my son knows that he was "made" by a different man but that my husband is his dad- he;s the one who loves him cares for him provides for him and will always be there for him, thats a family, not the man who abandoned him- doesnt send child support, doesnt call on birthdays, nothing! and thats fine, because my son has the family that he needs :-)

hotic... hoticedcoffee

I agree that DNA isn't necessary to have a parent-child bond.  I also believe that my egg = my child. I couldn't give my DNA away in the form of a donor egg - I'm connected to my kids on a cellular level, and would not be able to handle knowing somewhere there was a child of mine created with another man being raised by strangers - I would be compelled to find the child - my protective instincts just wouldn't allow for not knowing.  I know that a purely emotional point of view, and I don't mean to disrespect anyone who fits into the "strangers" part of the equation - I'm not saying they wouldn't be wonderful parents.  I just couldn't do it.

Xakana Xakana

Someone else said that donating eggs is like giving a baby to a needy family and that's how I see it. I still see the eggs as my DNA and the baby as a continuation of me, but I'd have no problem at all donating. Not that I could--they have weight guidelines.

Amy Knoch

I couldn't be a surrogate, primarily because I am one of those apparently rare women who isn't all that fond of being pregnant - I don't bond with my children in utero, or at least, haven't with the 2 I've had or the one I am currently pregnant with - so for me the barring fact of surrogacy is simply that I'm pretty well miserable (to say nothing of hormonal and depressed) through most of my pregnancy.  

As for DNA, no, I don't believe that DNA makes the child yours.  Life makes the child yours.  I consider my step-children to be as much mine as my biological children.  My husband has been the father to both of my children who were not biologically his, as much as he is the father to the one I am carrying now that IS biologically his.  If I were allowed to donate my eggs, I would in a heartbeat, because they're not something I'm using (generally speaking) and I have plenty of them.  But once I give them to someone else, that egg becomes their child, not mine.  

Alison Tate-Adams

Thank you. *clapping* What a wonderfully written article.

I am a 2x surrogate, going on to do my third (and most likely final) journey. I am a traditional surrogate in that my own egg is used. I love doing this. And I can tell anyone, holding a surro baby in my arms, who resembles me a bit usually, doesn't make me the mother. I was never that child's mother. I firmly believe that egg that helped in creating that child was meant for the intended parents from the start. I can look at pictures of both of my surrogate babies now and know they are where they should be. I am blessed to do this. I am very appreciative to both couples for letting me help them in their infertility journeys. My blog, in case anyone is interested: http://www.blessedwiththree.com/

DNA doesn't make a family. I have a wonderful stepmother, who is the best mother one could ask for, but she of course is not biologically my mother. But just because we don't have that DNA link, doesn't mean I love her any less. :)

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