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Openness in Surrogacy & Egg Donation


That was the thing about our conception: there were too many players to be jealous of any one. And once we made the decision to have children this way, and put away regret, I felt happier embracing it than just tolerating it. There was even something I liked about the idea of a family created by many hands, like one of those community quilt projects, pietra dura, or a mosaic whose beauty arises from broken shards. If it takes a village to raise a child, why not begin with conception? When I tried to think about why I don’t want to have donor-and-surrogacy amnesia, it isn’t that it seems unfair to them (although it is), but that it erases our own experience of how our children came to be. At a basic level, the fact that our children originated through the good will of strangers feels like an auspicious beginning.

dadpiggyback-insideIf you consider third-party reproduction to be simply a production detail in the creation of a conventional nuclear family — a service performed and forgotten — then acknowledging the importance of outsiders could make it all seem like a house of cards. But if you conceive of the experience as creating a kind of extended family, in which you have chosen to be related to these people through your children, it feels very rich.

via Meet the Twiblings – NYTimes.com.

I really like what the author says about feeling “happier embracing it than just tolerating it.”

Creating our families is a journey that starts with the idea of what (and who) makes up a family and continues for the rest of our lives.

Some of us create family more consciously — when we choose friendships that we elevate to family, when we face unexpected challenges in our reproductive efforts, when we contemplate our choices in a crisis pregnancy.

When we step into a greater consciousness of creating family, we may need to mourn the family of origin we wish we had or the children we hoped to have or the partner we dreamed of having that with.

On the other side of grief is hope and joy and love. It may look different than what we expect, but when we have room to honor our losses, we create space to celebrate those differences rather than deny them.

This post originally appeared on this woman’s work, my now defunct personal blog.

The economy and egg donation

“Whenever the employment rate is down, we get more calls,” says Robin von Halle, president of Alternative Reproductive Resources, an agency in Chicago where inquiries from would-be egg donors are up 30% in recent weeks — to about 60 calls a day. “We’re even getting men offering up their wives. It’s pretty scary.”

from Ova Time: Women Line Up to Donate Eggs for Money

Gamete donation lives in its own ethical morass.

The discussions about adult-kids’ right to know since it in many ways mirrors the discussion in adoption; basically it comes down to whether we have the right to know our own histories. And if we do, how much of that history should belong to us — how many details ought we to have.

There’s a Donor Sibling Registry (this links to a video). Fertility docs think the registry is a good idea but it might cause a shortage of donors like has happened in Britain.

Here’s an interesting essay that talks about some of the unique challenges for donor kids, including the idea that they need access to other donor kids as they grow up so that they don’t feel weird or out-of-place. And another article that talks about the importance of half siblings.

The new adoption

At both conferences I went to people were talking a lot about children conceived via donor egg and donor sperm. It’s clear that a lot of the same issues inherent to adoptee rights are present when parents conceive using a donor specifically about people who want access to their genetic histories.

Joanna is herself a child of donor sperm and strongly disagrees with the procedure.

“… One of the worst things you can do to a child is to block them from forming relationships with half their natural family. It’s a human need to know where you come from and there’s a real sense of loss in people who are raised without their genetic kin.

“For me it has been a terrible burden. I am still fighting for the right to find out information about where I come from and even now I cannot confirm who my natural father is. It’s very painful for me to know I’m intentionally blocked off from half of my identity.”

from Independent.ie

I think that this conversation is going to be more and more present and it will be interesting to see where it goes. Personally I’m all for people having access to their histories.

Children of Sperm Donors

Those of us created with donated sperm won’t stay bubbly babies forever. We’re all going to grow into adults and form opinions about the decision to bring us into the world in a way that deprives us of the basic right to know where we came from, what our history is and who both our parents are.

from My Father Was an Anonymous Sperm Donor

We parents are fortunate that we will get to learn from these adult-children; previous generations of parents didn’t have this opportunity.

Misguided book pitches

I get a lot of PR pitches because of my freelancing and a pitch showed up in my inbox yesterday that said this:

I wanted to take a second of your time to tell you about [guy’s name] and his book The book presents readers with the ability to pick apart their lives and put them back together in a more nurturing, healthy form. Through yoga, [yoga guy] explains how to love, live and learn.

Perhaps most interesting is [yoga guy]’s work with couples. He helps to restore intimacy and re-establish relationships – relationships with oneself, others, and the world around. Sometimes his work is geared very specifically at using yoga as a catalyst for a specific goal. Here is an excerpt from his book that involves a couple, and their desire for a baby:

S and V were a typical “upwardly mobile” couple. They were very busy with their lives of business and fun. Traveling frequently, they vigorously worked out with popular yoga as it was taught in New York to keep well in their busy routines. When S turned thirty-six, they decided to have a baby, knowing that the passing years would be a critical factor in this desire. With no interruption to their lifestyle, they tried. Years passed with no pregnancy. Finally S did conceive, only to miscarry early on. It had been sad for them. And frankly, they admitted, sex was not much fun.

It was at this point that [yoga guy] stepped in and began working with the couple. As you can imagine, things looked up. [yoga guy] goes on to say:

This is what happened. The immediate result was that their sexual desire and pleasure with each other dramatically increased. They were now willing to receive each other and be there for each other. This, they agreed, was a satisfactory outcome in itself and validated yoga for them  and their friends! S immediately became more feminine n character and appearance, more desirable to V, who gave her much more attention! He became a little softer, a little less driven in business pursuit. Their whole life of lovemaking became very interesting to them, where previously it had been almost like a job to be done with the added pressure of trying to conceive. Then they did! . And this time in their more realized lifestyle, in the pleasure and health of their intimacy, there seemed to be no question or risk of miscarriage. Her belly grew beautifully.

I would love to explain what [yoga guy] did with the couple to help in their transformation, and give you more examples of how Yoga can be a catalyst for great changes.

So I wrote back and said that I would never ever ever ever feature that book or its author.

And the PR person wrote back and said she was “deeply sorry” for upsetting me and she just hoped that highlighting the “success of one couple” would inspire people.

I wrote back and said that the “just relax” line (not to mention the “get more feminine”) line was deeply offensive and exploitive. I told her that one of the women I work with at my job has a deformed uterus. Did she really think that yoga would fix my friend’s deformed uterus? I suggested she rethink her pitch.

I get “just relax” stories in my email box on a regular basis. How I handle them depends on my mood that day but I always write back and tell them why I’m saying no thank you.

It’s nice to be on the winning side

Daily Kos :: Political Analysis and other daily rants on the state of the nation.

Legislation that would have required mothers who had failed to report fetal deaths to the police within 12 hours of the delivery to face a possible misdemeanor sentence will be withdrawn, its patron said on Monday.

“I’ve elected to withdraw HB 1677 from consideration by the General Assembly this year. The language is just too confusing,” Del. John Cosgrove, R-Chesapeake, told The Augusta Free Press.

Cosgrove’s surprise move came after a firestorm of controversy spread across the World Wide Web over the weekend about the possible far-reaching effects of the measure.

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