Recipient Info Sheet

The tricky subject of disclosure

Whether and when to tell a child conceived through donor gametes about how they were conceived has been a heated topic since 1984, when the first donor egg baby was conceived. I have tried to find some information that I hope will be useful to you.

1. ‘Quandary on Donor Eggs: what to tell the children’ 1998 NYT article by Sheryl Gay Stolberg – LINK

2. ‘Donor Egg Disclosure- The Great Debate‘ 2008 article by Phyllis Martin – LINK

3. ‘To tell the truth’ – 2008 Boston Globe Article by Patricia Wen – LINK

4. ‘Talking and Telling’ – A set of unique resources from the Donor Conception Network for parents of donor conceived children and the professionals who support them. Down the free booklets here – LINK

Nature vs Nurture – The Eternal Debate

You got your green eyes from your mother, and your freckles from your father. But where did you get your thrill-seeking personality and talent for singing? Did you learn these from your parents or was it predetermined by your genes? While it’s clear that physical characteristics are hereditary, the genetic waters get a bit more murky when it comes to an individual’s behavior, intelligence, and personality. Ultimately, the old argument of nature vs. nurture has never really been won but a shocking surprise that emerged from the full sequence of the human genome earlier this year is that we are the proud owners of a paltry 30,000 genes — barely twice the number of a fruit fly.

‘Nature vs. Nurture – Are We Really Born That Way?’ by Kimberly Powell – LINK

‘Nature vs Nurture Revisited’ by Kevin Davies – LINK

Wikipedia takes on the Nature versus Nurture debate – LINK

The emotions behind the decision

For many recipients, the decision to use an egg donor is an incredibly difficult one to make. There is much anguish and emotion that goes into the decision and yet they often feel as if they have very little ‘choice’ at all. For others, it is an easy decision to make. Whatever the personal reality of each of these recipients, the truth is that for most of them, they have arrived at this point after a long, hard journey, often marked with much pain and heartache.

The decision to use donor eggs is often a difficult one because it does involve the loss of the genetic and biological connection to the mother. And often grieving is a part of that process. Add to this years of disappointment and heartache and it is no wonder some of you might be feeling a bit fragile. As a veteran tenant of many counsellors’ couches myself, I strongly recommend that you see one of our fabulous counsellors to sort through some of your fears, concerns, and sadness with respect to doing an egg donor cycle. Contact us for a counsellor close to you.

‘Making Good Decisions about Using Donated Eggs: Elements and Influences’ By Ellen Sarasohn Glazer and Evelina Weidman Sterling – LINK

‘The Decision To Use Donor Eggs: Differences Between Men and Women’ By Dr. Andrea Braverman – LINK

“Women who give birth to donor egg babies are the biological moms”

“Perhaps the greatest myth surrounds pregnancy. Many believe the uterus is simply an incubator. Nothing could be further from the truth. The most important aspect of all pregnancies- including egg donation pregnancies- is that as the fetus grows, every cell in the developing body is built out of the pregnant mother’s body. Tissue from her uterine lining will contribute to the formation of the placenta, which will link her and her child. The fetus will use her body’s protein, then she will replace it. The fetus uses her sugars, calcium, nitrates, and fluids, and she will replace them. So, if you think of your dream child as your dream house, the genes provide merely a basic blueprint, the biological mother takes care of all the materials and construction, from the foundation right on up to the light fixtures. So, although her husband’s aunt Sara or the donor’s grandfather may have genetically programmed the shape of the new baby’s earlobe, the earlobe itself is the pregnant woman’s “flesh and blood.” That means the earlobe, along with the baby herself, grew from the recipient’s body. That is why she is the child’s biological mother. That is why this child is her biological child.”  Taken from a booklet published by Freedom Pharmacy

Epigenetics – The Importance of the Birth Mother

An article about epigenetics that referred to the influence of the birth mother on the genetic make up of a child born from donor eggs. …..

Genes must be ‘expressed’ within an individual in order to have an effect.

The same gene or genes can express in a number of different ways depending upon the environment. A gene can remain ’silent’ or unexpressed; it can be expressed strongly; it can be expressed weakly, and so on. There is also an entire field of study called “imprinting” having to do with which gene you ‘activate,’ the copy you received from your mother, or the copy you received from your father.

The field of epigenetics studies these phenomenon, and popular journalism is just starting to write about it. While the Human Genome Project was still underway, we usually heard genes referred to as ‘the Bible’ of the human being, as a kind of absolute truth concerning the fundamental nature of the individual.

That is now changing.

In a donor egg pregnancy, the pregnant woman’s womb is the environment. It is her genes, not the donor’s, that determine the expression of the donor-egg baby’s genes.

A donor egg baby gets her genes from the donor; she gets the ‘instructions’ on the expression of those genes from the woman who carries her to term.

This means that a donor egg baby has 3 biological parents: a father, the egg donor, and the woman who carries the pregnancy.

The child who is born would have been a physically & no doubt emotionally different person if carried by his genetic mother.

In horse breeding for example, it’s not uncommon to implant a pony embryo into the womb of a horse.

The foals that result, are different from normal ponies. They’re bigger. These animals’ genotype – their genes – are the same as a pony’s, but their phenotype – what their genes actually look like in the living animal – is different.

The implication of epigenetics is that the child inherits characteristics from the woman who carries the child even if the original DNA comes from a donor egg. In other words the birth mother influences what the child is like at a genetic level – it IS her child.

Original source unknown but more information can be found here and here

A recipient’s tale

A recipient talks about the decision to use donor eggs: “I feel SO blessed to have my son. You know, I remember when my doctor first started talking about donor eggs. I was devastated. It felt as though someone told me I had cancer, or that I was going to have a leg amputated. I couldn’t imagine anything worse. However, being on the other side…. I can’t believe how much it doesn’t matter. It isn’t possible for me to love this child any more. He’s 100% mine, no matter how he was conceived, or from whom. I know there are so many people struggling with this decision, some feeling that they just can’t go the donor egg route. I’m telling you, once they feel that baby kick, or hold that child in their arms – nothing else matters. I wish I could put them in my life for a day so they could truly see. I wish I could convince everyone who is sitting on the fence with this issue. I have no doubt that some people will miss out on this wonderful opportunity because of the fears they have about donor eggs…..”

DISCLAIMER – Please note that none of these articles are written by us, and the copyright belongs to the person who wrote the article. We are simply making them available for reference. All articles found thanks to our trusty friend Google.