Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hanging in there - thanks - and a @!#&$! article on egg donation


You guys rock. Seriously. Thanks for all of the supportive comments after my last post. It really helped to be reminded that many of you have also had your share of dark, sobbing moments and to feel validated that it makes sense that I might have a big cry from time to time. Geesh, that night sucked (just ask Will). But all that sadness is in there and it has to come out sometime. Seems to be lying dormant again, so we'll just let sleeping sadnesses lie for a bit, if that's ok with you.

On another topic, yesterday, I came across this article on egg donation on Slate.com ("The Egg Market: What determines the price of a woman's eggs? SAT scores."), and gosh, it really stuck in my craw (hmmm...moving from sadness to anger much?). Now, I'm not one to think we should necessarily have multiple tiers of compensation for ovum donation, but my take on this article was that it villainized seeking any specific characteristics in an egg donor.

A select quote to give you a bit of flavor from the piece:
"A market in lucrative traits is developing. Wealthy people are buying smarter babies [by purchasing selected donor eggs]. Even if your kids get the same private schooling, their kids will do better."

My immediate reaction? Oh really? Really? That's what's driving the market in egg donation? Sounds like fertile people might just start knocking down their local RE's door to get these preferred ova on board and start multiplying - just so their kid can beat your kid in the upcoming kindergarten chess tournament.

You've got to be kidding me.

Seriously, folks. If Will and I have to go the route of egg donation and lose the ability to have our own genetic child, is it so wrong if we attempt to select an egg donor somewhat similar to myself and Will in terms of intellectual ability or physical traits?

I get it that it would be kind of creepy if we only wanted a "perfect" child with gorgeous good looks and a stratospheric SAT score. But really, does it smack of narcissistic self-absorption if Will and I would prefer to select a egg donor who shares my very fair skin and almost black hair, or who has the genetic possibility to be similar to the two of us with our ridiculous overeducated background? The fact that between the two of us Will and I have four graduate degrees is - in addition to kind of embarrassing (what, are we hoarding degrees or something?) - basically a liability in my book for any poor, potential offspring. Oh, but future offspring, we would try to be good parents despite this!

I hated that the article didn't even mention once the loss that surrounds the need for donor egg, and the then ensuing (and normal! natural!) psychological motivation to reduce that loss - even a modicum of that enormous loss - by having a donor who resembles one a little bit physically or emotionally or intellectually.

Instead, the entire area of egg donation felt reduced to a market strategy, a cold Huxley-esque Brave New World, where selecting a donor is be all about competition and perfection and not about trying to create a family to love.

And that to have any preferences at all in physical or intellectual characteristics immediately means that you're trying to build a "better" child, rather than an attempt to try to be somewhere in the ballpark of the child that you might have had you not suffered the loss of the ability to use your own genetic material.

But those are just
my not so articulated thoughts. What do you think?

Mo

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21 comments:

Bree said...

When you have time, check out heathermohr.wordpress.com. After losing their little girl, she and her husband discovered they were both carriers of a genectic disorder. They started pursuing embryo adoption in Dec/Jan and she's having her transfer in the next few weeks.

Julize said...

It's fairly obvious to me that this is a person looking to write a sensational article about a sensational subject, without a whole lot of regard for the truth of the matter. And it's his contention that this is one of the driving forces behind inequality in the US?? Please.

lastchanceivf said...

Ugh.
Sensationalism, pure and simple.
If I were going the egg donor route I'd be trying to find those multiple graduate degrees, too (we've got four between my DH and I too :) ).

Ugh again.

jenicini said...

As someone who is currently knocked up with someone else's eggs, I can laugh at the ignorant articles out there including this one. This article was brought up on the Parents Via Egg Donation (PVED) board. I can say it thoroughly disgusted most people there. The element about it that makes me laugh is that they have no sense of the heartache or loss that brings couples to choose egg donation in the first place. Why wouldn't you want your child to have the best genes possible if they can't be yours? It seems natural to want a child to at least have some of your characteristics.

I know that my donation coming from one of my best friends was all about building a family. To people who have never felt the gut wrenching helplessness of infertility, I think it is way too easy to bring it down to the idea of the perfect child. For those of us who have experienced it, we know the truth of the matter. It's about family.

MrsSpock said...

As wrong as the article is, I am amazed by the well-thought, well-educated, and spot-on comments to it that understand that egg donation is our last choice. Wow, I may actually have earned some faith in humanity again...

sprogblogger said...

This article managed to get it wrong - just like so many of them do. And why oh why is it that it's seen as socially acceptable to want a kid who looks like us, at any cost, but the thought of trying to have a kid who thinks like us is somehow morally reprehensible?

There are certainly days when I despair of ever really understanding what motivates people to get all judge-y on what they've never experienced & obviously have no compassion for.

Grrrr. Going to go stew now...

Pundelina said...

I'd be like you - trying to get an egg from someone who at least resembled me. Stupid article.

I'm so sorry to read your latest news Mo.

((hugs))

WiseGuy said...

Well in a way I am glad that the author did not mention the pain that goes into the decision of using donor eggs because God knows, how much glamour he/she would have added to the imaginary feelings.

I am not open to donor eggs. No sir, I do not still feel prepared to parent kids who may not be my genes, but have a higher IQ than all the kids in the neighbourhood.

Seriously, maybe they should sell eggs with condoms and pregnancy tests on shelves. That would make it even more trivial to comment on.

Dreams and False Alarms said...

When I read these articles (which I didn't since my blood doesn't need to boil!), I get so irate. Having just completed an egg donor search let me tell you this much Slate magazine: There may be a clutch of those donors out there, but even in my rather wealthy over educated part of the country, a whole lotta egg donors are hair dressers and estheticians! AND! There is no substitute for yourself, so no matter how high someone's SAT scores are, they are still not you, and that is a huge compromise to integrate. In the end, we picked some one whose description of her way of learning seemed very close to mine. She had good SAT scores (according to my husband), but so few of the donors we looked at had, it wasn't really a deciding factor. Maybe one of us should write an article about what it's REALLY like to pick an egg donor. Yeesh.

Glass Case of Emotion said...

I feel like the rest of the world loves to sensationalize anything related to IVF, and this is just another example of it. Meanwhile, the heartache and grief surrounding these decisions is ignored- I agree with you!

Jericho said...

Grrr. Just grrr. Can't believe they'd completely overlook mentioning how much pain a person goes through to get there. Aren't people just grateful to be able to have the opportunity to reproduce anymore? I'm cracking up when 20 years from now we find out that natural intelligence skips a generation. LoL

mekate said...

I had a comment a while back, or an email, sort of suggesting the donor egg route was one step removed from Building a Better Human, nazi style. I was horrified and appalled. The only thing I can think is that these folks have never faced OUR choices, for OUR reasons and therefore cannot even imagine an option. It just feels like designer babies. Gratuitously so. Hell and shite.

So,
what I really wanted was to send love,
big fat cushy love to you Mo.
I am sorry for your sad and completely get it (as much as I can not being you and not being through your particular circles of hell).

So, yeah.
LOVE
not always magical, but not always Not either--

xox
Kate

Dora said...

Ugh! Awful article. In terms of my thoughts about resemblance going the donor route, my thoughts were also for my child. When I first started thinking about embryo donation I thought I'd take whatever was available, regardless of race, etc. I was so desperate to be a mother. Then I thought about it more and decided that there is enough for a child to process about being donor conceived, I didn't need to complicate it by having a child who was a different race. My girl doesn't really look like me, but oddly, she looks a lot like baby pictures of my niece. And blue eyes and red hair are not a genetic impossibility in my family.

squarepeg said...

Meh, DH and I are academic overachievers too -we met in grad school while getting our PhDs - his in immunology and mine in neuroscience. He's a professor now; I'm a grant writer. We both work hard, and we both have a certain (not necessarily overabundance) of innate ability. But more important, we also both had access to great schools - and that, much more than genetics - is predictive of future success.

When choosing an egg donor, we wanted someone as much like me as possible, but when push came to shove, we wanted to be parents more than we wanted to wait around for the "perfect" donor. So rather than a donor with my hair and eye color and academic record, we chose a donor who resembles my brother a bit more (light rather than dark hair; blue rather than brown eyes). We chose a donor a tad taller than I. We chose a donor who won an award in high school for maintaining an excellent GPA while working after school. We chose a donor with goals - not a degree yet. We chose a donor who was young and had a good cycle history.

But we could have also chosen any of 5 other donors, each with their own appealing characteristics. Really, we just wanted a donor who it seemed like we would like.

And it turns out my hypothesis on choosing the right donor was correct - there are a lot of right donors. And when you hold that baby in your arms, I promise you will NEVER EVER think to yourself "hmmm. I should have chosen that other donor."

The whole "egg donor market" is a crock of crap if you ask me. Our clinic had a wide and varied donor pool. Something for everyone, so to speak. And the compensation for each donor is fair - $4500 - but not outrageous. Frankly, there is no way that spending an extra $10,000 for a donor with an advanced degree would make my child any more likely to succeed than he is. Indeed, that $10,000 would be $10,000 less that we would have to provide him with a great education.

And don't forget - advanced degrees take time. By the time I finished my Ph.D. at the ripe old age of 28, my eggs were already shot.

Gabby said...

Actually I think they ae very well-articulated thoughts, indicative of the articulate child you will have, whether your child is at the lab already witing for you, or whether you go with a donor.

AND, no, there is nothing wrong with that. Everyone makes their own choices. If I were in your situation, I would want a child with the potential to be genetically similar to me and Carlos as well.

Mo and Will, I love your story. You are two beautiful, amazing people. I am not going to stop reading your blog until your little ones have thier advanced degrees. AND I just know that will happen. (You might be too busy to write, but just that one blog post when they finish their dissertations, ok?)

Kate said...

God, how annoying does that article sound? If I were going to pursue DE, I'd also be looking for a donor that was somewhat similar to me intellectually and physically.
Then again, if a "dumb" set of parents were to ante up for a supersmart egg, who's to say that the nurture part of the equation wouldn't even out the innate possiblity of a higher IQ?
Hoping you don't have to go there, because some of your normals will truly be normal even after CGH, and you'll get pg and carry to full term!

Phoebe said...

Maybe my lousy SAT scores are why my eggs suck? So glad I have the opportunity to find some better eggs (not).

I find these types of things are written by people who have not had to go through chosing egg donation themselves. I was reading some book about egg donation, and they were being really judgmental about women over 45 using an egg donor, like it was not ethical for a child to have older parents?! I would like to think that I'm more mature than I was 10 years ago and hence would make a better parent!

So sorry you have to be reading crap like this and have to be considering DE at all. I would like to say that I think it's awesome that your sister offered to be your egg donor. That's very kind and generous of her. I know that I would like a family member to donate her eggs to me if I decide to go that route too.

Dr. Edward Ramirez, MD, FACOG said...

A very good examination by you and by all your followers of this sensitive issue. At Monterey Bay IVF, we have our own egg donor roster and do not allow them to be compensated more than $5000. There are always additional charges that need to be kept in mind though, including the preliminary blood tests mandated by SART. I have also had many couples lucky enough to have a sibling or friend donate her eggs. On the other hand, I believe that if someone chose to go through an agency or to advertise, that should be their prerogative and not anyone else's business. Like someone mentioned above, it's bad enough that you can't have the child you want the way you want it. This kind of controversy has existed for a long time on the sperm side of the tracks as well...Good luck to all of you in whatever direction you decide to go in order to build your family.(I will post a link to your blog post and quote one of the comments on our FB page...thank you!)

Cat said...

I agree wholeheartedly with everything you said. I thought the article was, unfortunately, typical of most articles I've read in the mainstream media (ie, not from the ALI world) that are written by people who have certainly not walked in our shoes.

However, I was pleasantly surprised by the comments. Most of those articles mentioned above have complete jackasses commenting on them that just make me want to reach through their computer screen and slap the shit out of them. For the most part, these commenters were respectful and knowledgeable about the topic and had a non-confrontational discussion of the article. That part was refreshing.

Dr. Edward Ramirez, MD, FACOG said...

Thought you might want to know that you have been mentioned on Pam Madsen's "The Fertility Advocate" blog. She is a very well respected individual in the IF field, one of the founders of the AFA. Here is a link to her page: http://bit.ly/bqOEx0 You have a lot of people rooting for you! EJR, MD

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