We have had more good news! Our donor has agreed to future contact with our child/ren, which is A.W.E.S.O.M.E.
DH and I feel strongly that ensuring this is a possibility for our kid/s is the first responsible step we take in our parenthood. Maybe the kids will want to meet her as soon as they fully understand what their genetic heritage means. Maybe they won’t be interested in knowing anything about her, much less meeting her. Either way, it’s not our decision to make.
To our surprise, Nellie also said that she is open to meeting us too. DH and I always thought we would want to, if possible. Now that we have the option, we’re kind of terrified. Some people think it’s a bad idea, because it sets unrealistic expectations. Some people don’t think it’s a bad idea, but didn’t or wouldn’t do it. Some people think it’s a great idea, because it’s good to nurture a healthy ongoing relationship with the person who helped build your family.
Of course, during the course of my research I came across quite a few people who are appalled by the idea of egg donation. It’s been easier than I thought to shrug off their hateful comments because they are either the worst kind of Bible thumpers, or they don’t know anything about infertility and/or genetics, or they place a far greater weight on genes than I do, or their concept of family is narrow-minded and comprises of a man and a woman and 2.3 kids. Definitely not my kind of people — but it has reminded me that my family will be non-traditional, and we might experience negative reactions. One more reason to keep our decision to ourselves and our family (which includes our very closest friends).
I am so happy that she is okay with meeting us, but also terrified. What if we don’t like her? What if she doesn’t like us? What if she has a crazy voice, like Lina Lamont in Singin’ in the Rain??
One of the best resources I’ve come across for people in our situation is Parents Via Egg Donation (PVED.org). Last night I had the pleasure of speaking to its founder, Marna, on the phone! Marna was kind enough to share her experience of meeting her egg donor. Her attitude is that if you can meet your donor, you should. Because, she said, if you meet her in a mediated setting, where you can sit together and hold the space, with no expectations of what she should be like, then it can be a beautiful thing. (I think this is where my mindfulness practice might help!)
She summarised in the words of a psychologist she works with: You can’t have too many people in your life to love your child and cheer them on along the way.
I’ll be honest, much as I like this idea, there is a part of me that wonders if Nellie wouldn’t love our child, and if that might be difficult for her. I mean, surely there has to be some affinity. I’m not worried about a situation in which Nellie demands custody of the child (we have lawyers to protect us from that, as well as to protect her from future claims of child support!), more that it might be difficult. Marna reassured me that donors are counselled on this issue.
I was also surprised to hear Marna say that women can often feel very maternal and protective over their donor, which is strange, because that’s how I’ve begun to feel about Nellie. I was alone in the car yesterday, and I got a little verklempt thinking about her. I do feel protective over her, in a big-sisterly kind of way. Coincidentally, right around the time I was getting choked up, Nellie was emailing our Egg Donor Coordinator to say she was open to future contact. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy to know she and I were independently thinking of each other at the same time.
In the past 24 hours I’ve contacted 4 or 5 attorneys specialising in third party reproduction. We can specify what kind of contact we want (see below) and then our lawyer will draft the agreement, send it to Nellie’s lawyer to see if she agrees, and from there we can be in touch with Nellie. (Our agency does not facilitate meetings between donors and Intended Parents because it is an in-house agency, which makes things a bit murky for them.)
So far our initial contact options are as follows:
- Donor Sibling Registry.com, which would be semi-anonymous, and we pay for her lifetime membership
- Face-to-face, mediated by a therapist
- Face-to-face, mediated by a lawyer
- Face-to-face, unmediated, in a neutral setting, like a café
Once we and Nellie are in direct contact with each other, we can then figure out how we want to proceed with the relationship.
What would you choose? And would you choose before, during, or after the IVF cycle? Please share your thoughts, I’d love to know what you think you would do!