The Emotional Aspects of Egg Donation for Couples
The long-term quest for pregnancy is stressful at any age. After age 40 it takes on the added stress of the relentlessly ticking biological clock Women between 40 and 43, who still have the ability to respond adequately to fertility drugs have the choice of attempting IVF with their own eggs or of using donor eggs.
The choice of treatment is highly personal and should be considered in the light of the financial and emotional costs involved. The further the woman’s age advances beyond 40 yrs and/or the closer she gets to the menopause, the more likely it becomes that she would require multiple attempts at IVF to have even a reasonable chance of achieving a viable pregnancy with her own eggs. However, after the age of 43 the adverse effect of age on a woman’s egg quality so reduces the likelihood of successful IVF (with own eggs) that ovum donation, represents the most rational choice.
The aspiring parents should be encouraged to carefully consider this reality. The couple must assess whether they can withstand the many possible disappointments on the road to child bearing. How important is it now that the child is genetically theirs? Is it more important to them at this point to achieve a pregnancy with donor eggs and get on with their lives? Potential parents have to answer these questions for themselves. As mentioned above, egg donation is usually not the first choice of anyone, but it is a very viable and successful treatment option for couples where this represents the optimal choice for them.
The Issue of Disclosure to the Child
One of the questions asked most frequently by recipient parents, relates to the issue of disclosure. This involves what and when to tell the resulting offspring. While it is true that this is a private decision for the family to make, the prevailing opinion among providers and counselors is that parents should inform the child(ren) that they are the product of egg donation.
The story should be consistent throughout the life of the child and should be imparted to the offspring at age-appropriate intervals. For instance, you are not going to have a long discussion with 2 year old about egg donation. However, when you are engaged in a conversation with your 3 year old about ‘the facts of life’, and how the birds and bees do it, it is important to add a sentence that goes something like this ….the birds and bees do it this way and sometimes, people can’t produce good eggs and they go and see doctors who help them to get eggs from another person. This is called egg donation.
As the child grows, the story will get more detailed but it MUST remain consistent throughout the life of the child, until such a time that they have all the facts. There are several important reasons for full disclosure. Studies have shown that offspring conceived as a result of egg donation, do not grapple with the ‘abandonment issues” experienced by children given up for adoption. Rather, these children have a sense that they were wanted so badly that their parents went to extraordinary lengths to achieve this success.
Finally, a child conceived through egg donation, has a right to know the truth so that they may have a comprehensive understanding of their medical history as they grow. Unfortunately, there is not a formal registry in this country, which maintains records of these births. Couples should maintain a file with important information and pictures. It is not necessary to provide contact information for the donors, and in fact, most donors specifically request that they NOT be contacted in the future, for understandable reasons.