When someone is considering using donor eggs, it’s usually not their first choice or what they had hoped for. Often, couples have gone through infertility treatment never expecting that they would need a donor egg. When they realize it is the best option, they may feel confusion, fear, indecision, and sometimes very alone. When you’ve given everything you can to have a baby, coming to terms with having to use donor egg is not easy.
I’ve helped thousands of couples over the past 22 years, and I can assure you that every single one of your feelings and fears are normal. You’re not unusual in feeling the way you do. Although the infertility community can be very private, you are certainly not alone.
Here are seven common fears that I’ve heard repeated over the years:
1. What if I can’t bond with my baby?
Coming to terms with using another woman’s eggs to have your baby is not simple. It’s no wonder that this question has crossed your mind – and you are not alone. This does not happen, and if it does, it is exceedingly rare. Thousands of mothers with children conceived through donor egg have lovingly embraced their baby from the beginning as theirs. Which it is, of course. And it’s also the baby of the father, and he didn’t even carry this adorable infant.
2. Will I always feel sad that I am not my child’s biological mother?
Although another woman does have a biological connection to your child as the egg donor, she is not the mother. Donors never regard themselves as the mothers of any child conceived through their donation. You most certainly will be the biological mother. Pregnancy, birth, and lactation (if that is your choice) are all biological.
3. What if my child rejects me later and says, “You aren’t my real mother”?
Children regard parents as the people who care for them, spend time with them, love them, and guide them. This is extremely unlikely, and even if said, it is “teen code” that translates to “I hate how you are ruling my life, how can I wound you?”
4. What if my family does not accept my child?
Though this is very unlikely, it can be a valid concern for some. If your family is very traditional or places emphasis on genetics, egg donation may seem like a big hurdle to overcome. If that is the case, you don’t have to tell them. You might want to share this information later, or not at all. Often, the timing of telling family and close contacts is important. Talking with a counselor can be helpful as you walk through this decision.
5. Will telling my child just confuse him or her?
There is a lot of great information on this topic that is reassuring. When children grow up with the information that their parent(s) had help so they could be born, and it is never approached as a taboo subject, children are not confused. This is just simply part of their unique story. They may have questions, especially as they get older, but such questions arise from a desire to know more about themselves, not a place of confusion.
6. Is this a selfish choice?
No, it’s not. Allow yourself credit for how much you wanted to have a child and how you cared for your baby prenatally. You went through a lot to have your baby, and it was all in the interest of him or her. You looked at all options and this was the best one for you.
7. Are egg donors just doing this for money? Could they be lying about their family health history?
Many ask this common question — why would anyone donate? I have spoken with more than a thousand donors. Typically, they are typically well-informed, thoughtful, and have strong support from their family and friends. Would someone become a donor if they were not financially compensated? No. Because it’s just too hard. Is monetary compensation the only reason they donate? Sometimes, but even so, the donor knows they are helping someone. Most donors truly want to help others. They don’t see their donation as “giving up a child.” They are giving eggs, the building block of making a baby. Most often, they try to make a good faith effort about family history.
It’s important to internally work through each question and fear you have, and give yourself time to make your decision. Talk with friends or a counselor. Once you process everything and feel ready, you will know the decision that is best for you.
Dr. Marie Davidson is a licensed clinical psychologist and patient educator with Fertility Centers of Illinois. She specializes in counseling individuals and couples who are coping with infertility, and has provided counseling services to patients, donors and surrogates since 1992. She facilitates patient education seminars, leads women’s and couples support groups, and is widely published in the fertility field.