My partner and I are parents-through-IVF; survivors of infertility who inevitably became overbearing parents to our precious offspring. Archie was born after 7 embryo transfers, and he was our lucky last. Shortly after Archie’s second birthday, we conceived his brother, Rafael. Without IVF this time. Fertility, as most infertility survivors know, is a numbers game; a fickle friend who changes over time and is never guaranteed.
I decided, when I was going through IVF, that I would like to pay our (relatively good) luck forward and one day be an egg donor. After Raf was born, I investigated it further, and slid down the rabbit hole of google searches and online forums, and eventually offered my eggs to another couple. I decided I wanted to give unconditionally; that the recipients didn’t need to prove their worth to me. I had minimal criteria – they they live in Victoria, for the sake of convenience, and that they be prepared to tell their offspring about their donor conception. For my part, I was committed to being available to any donor-offspring and their parents, for their sake and for Archie and Raf to know their donor-siblings (or ‘diblings’ as they are sometimes called). We know from research with donor-conceived children that they cope better with the knowledge of their donor-origins if they are told early and with honesty and openness; gone are the days when it is considered better to keep it a secret. In Victoria, donor-conceived adults can now access records about their conception, including the identity of their donor and other donor-conceived people related to them.
So I donated, to two couples, and one of them went on to conceive a baby who is now 2 years old. People are often curious about what it’s like being a donor, and about my relationship with the child and their parents. “Is it weird, seeing him and knowing he’s your genetic child?” Well, it’s a good question. Before he was conceived, we’d done all the donor counselling and considered the consequences of what I was doing. We’d talked about it with family, including our two kids. For them, it was pretty easy to understand – mummy gave her eggs to help another family have a baby. No doubt as they get older, they’ll have more questions, as they understand more about genetics and family.
For my part, I was excited to help someone have a child, and excited for them when they announced a pregnancy and then the birth. I visited him in hospital when he was a few days old, and remember thinking ‘what a momentous day, to meet this much-wanted child that is connected to me but not mine.’ But the reality was less exciting. I mean, it was lovely. But my only feelings were for his well-being and for his parents’ happiness. I was curious, at first, to see whether he looked like me or my children – my initial thoughts were that he looked a lot like his dad, and a bit like my dad. But I don’t feel bonded to him the way I am to my kids.
This kid, that comes from my egg who is not my child, is now two years old. I was at the park the other day, with my kids, and a little boy raced past me on his trike. My first thought was ‘I know that face!’ and then I realised that it was, in fact, the child that my friends conceived with my egg. He is not particularly interested in me, and I expect that may change when he is older if he has questions about me or his half-siblings. In the meantime, I am happy just seeing his parents enjoy him and grateful that I had the opportunity to help them grow their family.
Have you considered becoming a donor, or do you need a donor? Do you have questions about the donation process? Read more about egg donation in Australia.