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Thoughts about the future with DE baby(63 Posts)
This is my first time posting on here. I’ve joined because I’m considering donor egg IVF. It’s so helpful reading people’s stories on here.
I’m just thinking through what it would mean for the future.
I think I’d look at UK treatment, so the child can request details of their donor when they turn 18. With DNA ancestry and social media, it seems likely that children conceived now via ED will make contact with their donor and other genetically related siblings (I actually hate the idea of them being called siblings!) once they reach 18.
It seems to me that many teenagers question their identity anyway and may push against their parents. I’d be really scared of this causing problems.
From what I’ve read, studies into the effect of egg donation in early childhood show that DC children are just as healthy, and the bond with their mother is just as strong . Especially when the child is told from an early age and it is discussed often.
There aren’t really any long term studies, as I guess egg donation has not been commonplace for long enough. There is a lot online from DC adults who seem to really resent the process, largely from families where it wasn’t disclosed early. I find it scary that so many DC adults seem to be against it altogether, and seem really damaged by it. How do you make sense of that?
There are so many heart-warming stories of parents who have taken the DE route thoughtfully and lovingly, and have great experiences of raising DE babies.
But I’m concerned about what will happen 18 years down the line. I worry it would be fine when they were young, but feel like a ticking time bomb as they become teenagers.
I also worry about disclosure – who will know, how to balance privacy and secrecy. I would feel strongly that the child should be able to control who knows their story, but can imagine it would get complicated.
There is so much bullying on social media etc. for kids now, it’s hard to imagine what teenage life will be like 15 years from now. But I’d obviously hate for them to be stigmatised or bullied.
I did read somewhere that DC is becoming much more common (among hetero, same sex and single parents) so may just be much more accepted and less of an issue in 10 or 20 year’s time, which is a reassuring thought. Attitudes to family life have already changed so much.
It would be a shame to close down this opportunity to have a baby out of fear. I know there’s only so much we can know about the future, and this goes with parenting of any child!
I’d really love to hear from DE parents, and anyone who has been through the counselling process for DC and might be able to shed more light on this.
Hi, I am planning on going through DE IVF soon, I've had the councelling etc, and have just come to the conclusion that as long as we are open with the child from early on, and not make a big deal of it, it should be fine. I would also be interested in hearing how older DC children deal with it, but from everything I have read and heard, problems only seem to arise if it's hidden from them and they find out later down the line.
Hi OP, I’m starting my first attempt with my own eggs, but I’ve found some really interesting webinars through myivfanswers that you might want to look at. The link below should hopefully take you to one that may be useful:
@Cleozeta - thanks for replying. I'd love to hear more too about DC in adolescence and when they reach the age of disclosure. Hopefully someone will share.
@Sunbird24 - thanks for the link, I'm watching it now!
My double-donor baby is only 12 weeks old, so I haven't had to deal with his feelings on the subject yet. I've started talking to him about it already, though, just to get in in there and acknowledge it as part of his story right from the beginning, so he shouldn't ever have to have some big revelatory moment about it.
As he gets older I plan to let him decide who (if anyone) to disclose to, but for the time being I've let close family and friends know (although the sperm donor part would presumably have been fairly obvious anyway given that I'm single). I expect I'll also discreetly let his nursery/school know, in order to help them understand if he happens to talk about it at all.
Best of luck with your journey, and do let me know if I can answer any particular questions for you.
Ah @Persipan congratulations!
Hope you're both doing well, sounds like just the right plan. 💐
Thanks @Persipan, and congratulations on your little one! It's great that you are already talking to him about it.
What's concerned me has been hearing voices from the donor conceived community and how many of them are not in favour of DC and have been negatively affected by it. Have you also read those things and how did you make sense of them?
It feels like it's easy to get focussed on the idea of getting a baby, but harder to reconcile creating a person who is going to have to make sense of their origins and identity.
Did the counselling process help you? And do you think most of the problems come from late or non-disclosure in the past?
Thanks so much
I do think a lot of the problems come from lack of disclosure in the past, although I'm not naive enough to assume that means I can hand-wave away any identity worries my child may have in future. I chose to have UK-based treatment, to preserve the option of my child being able to receive details of his donors once he's grown up - I feel like that may potentially help him to make sense of his identity, as it's not some closed door he can never open.
I guess fundamentally I came to feel like all people are basically miracles - how do any of us exist at all? We're so unlikely! - and that donor-conceived people in many ways have a really positive personal origin story, in that everyone involved in bringing them into being really really wanted them to have the chance to be born and live, and really went out of their way to make that happen. That's considerably more than can be said for a lot of people in the world, so it's a good foundation for exploring their story.
I also think - and the experience of looking after a baby has definitely solidified this feeling - that very often the job of parents is to help and guide and support their child through whatever experiences they're currently having. Right now, that means he just cries inconsolably at 5pm every day for no reason I can ascertain, and what I can do for him is mainly to be there and bounce him around a bit. Maybe later, what he'll be experiencing will sometimes relate to being donor-conceived, and then it'll be my job to help him with that in whatever way he needs.
I love the idea of being attuned to him and his needs as a parent, and accepting that identity as a DC child will be part of that.
The kind of view points that trouble me are like this - oliviasview.wordpress.com/2019/11/25/donor-conceived-adults-speak-out-at-un/. I hope that's okay to share - it makes for quite a concerning read when DC children talk about not agreeing with the terms of their conception and having psychological trauma and identity issues.
I worry about incomplete medical history - do donors update their medical history with the HFEA ongoing?
I also worry about the idea of DE children having to check before getting into a physical relationship. And the idea of them having many genetic half siblings to relate to, as well as their donor.
Did you manage to make sense of all this? Did the counselling help.
I read somewhere (I think perhaps in this article) that the DC industry is focussed more on providing much-wanted babies for parents that want them, rather than building families with appropriate support systems for the child. Like I find it interesting that so many people still elect for anonymous donors in Europe, when the DC conceived community are almost unanimously against anonymous donation. I'm not sure if people aren't reading up on it, or if it's just that anonymous donation feels more favourable to the parents.
I don't want to be wowed by the success rates and the prospect of a baby, without properly considering the weight of what this means for the person being born. (I'm not saying that's what you did, of course, just that's my concern).
I loved what you said about every person being a miracle though!
I think it is fantastic that you are clearly putting a lot of thought into this decision and reaching out to others in the community who have DC children.
I have a four month old son who is DC through ED.
I too worried a lot about the things I read online. I would take them with a pinch of salt - happy, well adjusted people don’t generally go online to complain, they’re too busy living their lives! So you are only going to have those with the most extreme feelings about their conception posting when you type anything like this into Google....
Take a look at this study into how children from a variety of assisted reproduction conceptions view their stories in adolescence, it may surprise you. There also some interesting talks and interviews with donor conceived children who were made aware of their conception in their youth on YouTube which are very positive
I am a firm believer in using a donor who can be contacted when the child is 18. They may not wish to be involved when the time comes but it shows the child that their decision to donate was not one made with the idea that they would never meet, a big secret, shameful, etc.
The language is very heavily loaded in this area. We are careful to use the proper terms (such as donor rather than real/biological Mum) that are age appropriate with him as well as other adults.
I’ve skimmed over a lot there, so if you would like to ask me any questions, please feel free!
I should also point out that I made the decision not to try IVF with my own eggs when given the opportunity - I am very much of the belief (and have been before all this) that people rarely truly love each other on the basis of blood.
Just so you’re aware of my bias here!
Can I ask, how open have you been with friends/ family/acquaintances about using DE, and how open do you plan to be? I find the distinction between secrecy and privacy very interesting and important. I think for me, I would have some feelings of shame or inadequacy about it, which I would need to deal with, so it’s not passed on.
Do you have a pen portrait and letter from your donor, and does that help tell the story of the donation for you and your child?
How do you feel about your little boy potentially having lots of siblings (diblings?!)?
The idea of accidental incest really bothers me – I know the chances of it are incredibly low within a general population. But I hate the idea of the child having to check a register before having a physical relationship when they’re older. Is this something you’ve thought much about and made peace with?
If it’s not too personal, can I ask why you elected not to try IVF with your own eggs? Was it a pragmatic decision based on the likelihood of success?
Finally, are you in touch with other families from the DC community, and how important do you think this will be for you and your son?
I know this is a lot of questions! Thanks so much for anything more you can share.
No problem, happy to help if I can! I found the lack of personal stories really difficult so happy to share where I can. I am on my phone so please excuse any spelling mistakes etc!
Both of our families are fully aware, as are close friends. I have also been open with new friends if they ask. Basically, if I am close enough to someone to discuss the fact that we needed IVF, I’ve been open about using a donor.
Feelings of inadequacy and shame deffo need to be dealt with before you start this process. If you feel that this is shameful, then that is how it will be viewed by the little people you end up raising. Happy to chat about this in more detail if you would like!
We don’t have a pen and portrait, it wasn’t offered. I do have some basic details which I’ve kept in a scrap book about our journey, but that was more for me than for him. I use story books to read to my baby, I will keep doing this as he gets older. The DC website has a ‘library’ of age and situation appropriate books.
I love the word diblings! I might actually use that you know 😂 It doesn’t bother me. Why would it? I am pleased that he will have other people who understand exactly how he feels and that he can share things with that perhaps he may not feel comfortable sharing with me. It also helps me to feel leas guilty about not being able to give him a sibling myself.
I think there is a real fear with DE Mums that their children seeking links with their donor and diblings somehow undermines their role as Mum. It really doesn’t. Children just don’t work like that! Love and family don’t work like that. If I do have another baby, my love for the son I have now will not decrease to make way for the new love - your heart just gets bigger. This is how I think of him developing a relationship with people he is related to - his love for me won’t be diminished to make room for others.....unless I make it that way by forcing the issue.
It is also worth remembering that your child may not want to meet their donor and it is important to be prepared for this too. I would really like to meet our donor, she did an incredible thing for me, but I am very careful not to push this personal desire on to my son.
I don’t mean to be dismissive, but I think you’re worrying too much with the accidental incest thing! And it is not unique to DC children - plenty of non-DC kids don’t know their fathers for example, but I’m sure they don’t lose sleep over wondering about this!
I would never advise him to check a register for this - I would advise him not to sleep with people that he doesn’t feel he can be open enough with to say that he is DC. If it wasn’t age appropriate (say, dating in early teens) then I would just speak to the other child’s Mum and discreetly check. But I honestly can’t see it being an issue. You are made aware of donations and resulting children prior to yours, so you can make an educated decision here. For example, I know my son is the first male born from my donor and the year of birth of two other diblings. So if he brought home a girl who was born outside of these years, it’s not a likely concern. If he brought home an older boy, no concern at all.
I chose not to pursue my own eggs as I’ve seen how multiple rounds destroy marriages, cause financial ruin, etc. I guess it was pragmatic in that sense, but I was also very young and so success rates with my eggs weren’t as low as many people using donkrs. I just didn’t feel this sort of overwhelming need that some people experience to know that they tried everything first etc - I just wanted my family to be complete. I understand that not everyone is as flexible in attitude towards genetics, so I may not be the most help in this area!
When I was pregnant, I wanted to link up with other DC families. But now that he’s here, it really isn’t a big deal. It’s just a part of our story and I don’t feel the need to seek out other families in the same way as I did before. This may change as he gets older, but for now, the support we are getting from family and friends feels just fine. My parenting experience so far hasn’t been any different from my friends and family’s experiences really
I feel like I’ve skimmed over a lot there! Hope it helps a bit, I’ve got snoozing baby in my lap so am typing one handed so excuse me being a bit brief!!
@Eggcellent29 Awww at the snoozing baby! I can’t take credit for 'diblings '– I read that elsewhere. But I like it too
Did you have mandatory counselling as part of the process, and was that helpful in processing some of these concerns?
Also, if it’s not too personal, can I ask what your fertility journey was prior to DE? Was it a long road, or quite a direct one? And were you always aware of DE as a favourable option from the outset, or was it suggested to you when other avenues didn’t work out?
I think my fear is not so much around feeling displaced by a potential child’s interest in their donor and diblings, but rather the weight of responsibility of bringing someone into this world, and helping them make sense of their origins.
My greatest fear would be for a potential DC baby to resent their conception and have a lifelong struggle with their identity, affecting their self-worth and mental health, as well as the quality of our relationships. It feels like such a huge responsibility – as indeed it is to bring a child into the world under any circumstances.
My fear comes from some of the stories on forums like We Are Donor Conceived. Some of the quotes that have stuck with me have been people saying they feel like they were manufactured, or created as a science experiment, and are missing half of their identity. In fact, in their most recent survey of donor conceived adults, only 55% agreed with the practice of (non-anonymous) donor conception. I understand that this sample included many older DC adults who weren’t disclosed to as children though, and there are favourable opinions more similar to the study you shared. Around half of the respondents agreed with the statement ‘my donor is half of who I am’ which I found concerning too. Not so much for fear of being displaced as a parent (although there is an element of that) but more in terms of there often being such a strong need to know the donor, which would be impossible before 18 and not guaranteed afterwards.
I also worry a little about health information – I understand health info is provided by the donor upfront, but is this updated ongoing, should they develop any hereditary conditions?
I love that now it doesn’t seem like such a huge part of your journey – that you are happy to be a Mum and baby like any other…
If you still have patience for all my questions, I’d also love to know if you have any clinic recommendations, and how smooth the process was for you.
Thanks so much!
We did have counselling but I didn’t find it helpful. It was a one off session where we were asked a series of questions over the phone. However, we could have accessed further support as part of the process if we had wanted to.
I was offered a few choices and decided not to pursue the others. I didn’t want to waste years of my life on endless treatments when I could just be with my baby. I also wanted to have a baby in my 20s rather than later.
I understand your concern about the responsibility aspect. I think it’s important to try (and I know it’s not easy!) to keep these sorts of things in perspective - it is a huge responsibility in general to bring a life into this world, regardless of how it comes about.
I was about to ask why you feel that a DC child would struggle with identity issues until you mentioned WADC.
That website only appears to have negative views. It is also mostly populated by people, from my experience, conceived anonymously through sperm donation and/or with parents who are not supportive of them finding out about their roots, be it by withholding information or not helping to find the donor or diblings.
I think, ultimately, people are far too diverse in their feelings about all things for you to get a general view about something like this. Your child will be their own person, shaped by their experience and how you raise them. Ultimately, if all these websites raved about donation and all the DC adults were happy it would in no way mean your child would be okay with it ifyswim.
I would advise against researching in this way. If you really do want to, try to disregard view points that will not apply to you and your family. For example, there is very little point in reading a piece from a DC adult who found out about their conception as a teenager when you plan to tell them from birth as they are very, very different things. I personally have not found any negative egg donation stories from people who were made aware ‘from birth’ of their conception.
It is also worth remembering that teenagers are dramatic creatures by nature and even DC adults can be teenagers as well. I know I had a lot of extreme feelings about a lot of things at that age and in my early 20s that seem silly now!
As for the manufactured side - I am an IVF baby and don’t feel anything like that. I feel incredibly loved. But that comes from my upbringing, not my conception. If I wanted to be all extreme about it I could argue that I’m against IVF because I was ‘made’ wrong as I can’t have kids myself, all the heartache that caused, blah blah etc!
I don’t think health info is updated as they go along unless hey make the HEFA aware, by they are throughly screened before donation. It isn’t easy to become a donor because of the strict requirements around health. What sort of conditions are you worried about?
I can’t really recommend any clinics as I only went with one and wouldn’t really recommend them even though we were successful!
The process was not smooth at all but I think that was due to personal circumstances.
Have you read ‘Three Makes Baby?’ I found it a useful tool to help me look at my concerns and questions and really answer them rather than just giving myself an answer or of fear or shame etc
I’d also like to highlight that if you survey a group of people on a website created as an outlet for people with an issue with how they were conceived, the results will always be negative.
Take another look at the link I sent you. Most of those teens, in an environment where they aren’t venting online, felt either positive or indifferent. They had all been made aware at a young age.
Thanks @Eggcellent29. I really appreciated that link you shared – I liked how authentically teenage the quotes sounded! And the spectrum - from ambivalence to gratitude - seemed really healthy to me.
Re. the health information, I was thinking things like breast cancer or heart disease that can show up in mid-life. For example, when registering my pregnancy, I was asked quite a bit about my parents’ medical history to give an idea of my risk of hereditary diseases like these. That seems quite important, though I guess it doesn’t radically change health outcomes. Or in the case that the donor develops a serious condition that is hereditary, it seems important that their record would be updated.
I have read Three Makes Baby. It was a challenging read, as it really went into the implications of everything. It made me look at it from all angles.
Can I ask if the baby is genetically your partner's and whether you have any fears or expectations about resemblance vs a genetic child? I know genetic children often don’t resemble their parents either, but this is something that comes up for me.
You asked earlier about the shame/ inadequacy thing. It’s interesting to hear that you are in your 20s. Somehow I get this idea that if someone is in their 20s and needed to take the donor route, that makes more sense. I saw another Mum on Youtube (Amanda Dawn) who is brilliant - have you heard of her? She really brought the DE route to life for me. She was diagnosed with POF as a teenager and always knew we would need to take the donor route to have a child.
For me there is some shame around the story of me having left it too late to start a family. It’s not even that I met my partner late, but that we have taken time to sort ourselves out in life (jobs, location, housing, personal issues). I also just underestimated the effect of the biological clock, and thought I had more time.
I guess I have some shame about this, and feel this is harder to explain than someone who needed donor assistance to conceive from a young age. I do realise the fact I feel shame about this implies that donor conception is somehow ‘less than’ or more problematic than unassisted conception, which isn’t right. And that assumption would get passed on if I don't challenge and check it. I would need to work through this feeling of shame/ failure so that it wouldn’t be passed on (even implicitly) to a child. And be sure they would understand the way they came into the world as a very happy one.
I can see what you mean with the health stuff. It’s a tricky one. But I figure that anyone can get sick at any time and any major health issues with the donor would likely be flagged. My condition is often passed down yet no one else in my family has it, so even known issues aren’t always passed on as you’d think!
I suppose for me the fear of passing on my known infertility was a bigger risk than the relatively small risk of an undiagnosed health condition being passed down from the donor.
Our son is genetically related to my DH, yes. He is an absolute spitting image of the man!
I agonised over him not looking like me when I was pregnant, I really did. But please believe me when I say that it seems silly now. He looks nothing like me but I see every inch of myself, my whole heart and soul, in him every time I look at him. I’ve been told by strangers a couple of times that he has my smile, which is always a private source of amusement ☺️
I have watched a few of her videos and found them really helpful, particularly just after I was told.
You know, it’s interesting that you mention age. When I first going through this, I felt a lot of shame because I was so young - I was at the age where babies should come so easily, yet I couldn’t do it! Everyone else could, but not me, and that brought such shame. I wanted to be older so that needing donor eggs was ‘normal’ or expected at that point in my life. None of my peers had any experience or understanding of what I was going through and I lost s lot of friends over it.
I guess it’s the age old thing of the grass seeming greener!
You seem very aware of your feelings and that’s fantastic - if you were denying these feelings you wouldn’t be able to challenge them and resolve them. I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful with the specifics of your feelings around shame.
If it helps, the sources of what was shameful for me before have now turned into sources of real pride. I am incredibly proud of what I have achieved and the wonderful little boy I have created. He came into this world through my sheer force of will - right from refusing to be told I would never have chlldren, through my miscarriage before him, all the medications, invasive procedures, humiliations, etc right up to actually pushing him out. I don’t know anyone who went through what I did to have their child and I am immensely proud of myself, where as before I was incredibly ashamed that I had to do all those things to have a baby.
Do you mind if I ask where you are in the process atm? You mentioned being pregnant?
Thank you for sharing your journey. I love that the journey itself now has so much meaning for you and shows just how much you wanted your little boy.
I am only at the very early stages of my journey. I’ve had one miscarriage and am very aware of time. Upon looking into IVF, I saw the success rates are so low for my age (late thirties) and even lower going forwards. Just as you said, it seems costly in so many ways. IVF would likely use all our savings, so we would want to maximise the chances of success.
This is when I learned about the option of DE, but I’m still in the early stages of considering all the options.
Talking it through with you has really helped me so much! You've been so generous to respond as much as you have. Thank you.
You are more than welcome.
If you have any more questions at any time, please feel free to message me!
And good luck!!!
@sweetpea2000 I am in a very similar situation and also have decided to go for egg donation as to maximise chances.
@eggcellent29 I totally agree with you and hope we will be successful as well.
@Leala20 I am wishing you the best best best luck I possibly can! If you have any questions that I might be able to help with please do ask away! And if I can’t help we can always just talk it through
Ladies thank you for having such an open exchange here - I started reading it last night during my babies dream feed, and finished it this morning. You both articulate very well - @Eggcellent29 I’m so pleased for you that you have your little guy and your insight through being an ivf baby yourself is invaluable! @sweetpea2000 I “left it” longer than you but here I am holding my perfect 9 week old daughter who looks the image of me!!! As Ms Eggcellent said, try not to over think it. And don’t worry about spending all your savings, it will be the best use of them you could ever imagine xxx
Thanks @Midlifebaby - was your little one conceived with DE?