By: Meika Rouda
I have been talking to a lot of people about the donor egg and sperm scenario ever since I wrote about Ellie Lavi and her children, who are not recognized as being American even though their mother is an American citizen. Without proof of the donor eggs or sperm being from an American citizen, the US won’t issue them citizenship. It is bizarre and very wrong of the US to set such a contentious precedent. But through Ellie’s battle, I became interested in the idea of women using donor eggs and sperm and carrying the child. It is like being your own surrogate. I was talking to a good friend of mine, a woman I have known for over twenty years, who has been trying to get pregnant with donor sperm and IVF. She has had two miscarriages and the doctors are encouraging her to use donor eggs.
“Why would you do that?” I ask. “Just adopt.”
“Well, I wouldn’t qualify for adoption; I work freelance with a job that has me traveling 30 weeks out of the year and I haven’t had a permanent address in over a year.” Suddenly I realize she is right, she isn’t a great candidate for adoption even though she is one of those people who is great with kids. Kids love her. My kids, who are not always receptive to people, absolutely adore her. But any social worker would look at her and think she isn’t stable enough and not financially sound.
“Plus,” she says, “why would a birthmother pick a single woman over a couple? I just don’t think they would.” And again maybe she is right, I don’t know the stats on adoption for single women but I would imagine birthmothers lean toward couples.
“At least if I carry the child, I can become a parent and I have control over the pregnancy, something that is impossible when you adopt. I can control what I eat, make sure I take prenatals and have regular exams and tests. That makes me feel better. And I get to connect with the baby while I am carrying it. I think emotionally that will be good for me.” She says.
And she had a point. Our son’s birthmother smoked the entire pregnancy, not something I would have done if I had carried him. And as an adoptive parent I felt uneasy making requests to her about her health like “don’t smoke and please take the prenatals!” I didn’t feel it was my place to tell her things she already knew and ignored.
So there was a good reason to be your own surrogate. A sense of control and the ability to give your baby a healthy start in life.I never thought of it that way.
Last week I was having coffee with a writer friend who went through menopause at age 32 right after her divorce. The first thing her doctor said was “you should use donor eggs and sperm and get pregnant right away!” She said she was shocked and surprised by his suggestion but according to him it was very common. She didn’t follow his advice and instead adopted two children from Guatemala several years later with her new husband.
So this is opening my eyes to how “normal” it is to use donor eggs and sperm. It is another way for someone to create a family. Especially for my single friend, who would never qualify for adoption and is already in her 40’s and wanting a family now. Waiting for a match may take years for her, that is if she passes the home study. So I agree with her choice to go forward with the dual donors. I just wonder what she will tell her child? Do you mention that they were created with donor eggs and sperm? How does that make them feel? Do they relate more to adopted kids or to kids with single donors? There are so many ethical and moral questions stemming from reproductive technologies. It will be fascinating in the next few years to see how these children and families transpire.
What becomes is the new normal.