Donor Egg Disclosure: Should It Be Like “Open” Adoption?
It’s been a long, hard road and you finally have your bouncing baby—or babies—from egg donation. Maybe you’ve even helped your egg donor with her cycle. Karen Lehman (not her real name), a mother of twins via egg donation in Dallas, actually had her donor move into her house so she could give her the shots and monitor her retrieval cycle. But after the IVF cycle, pregnancy, and birth you’re left with vital questions: When do I tell the kids? Should I continue a relationship with my donor? Do I want her in the kids’ lives as their “bio” mom?
Today some argue that disclosure around donor eggs might be treated like an open adoption. An open adoption typically is when the birth mother has some kind of contact with the adoptive family, which may include a certain number of visits a year and/or the exchange of emails and photographs.
With egg donation, the mental health group of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine recommends that parents tell their children that they were born from donors eggs. A March 2009 study in Human Reproduction based on a survey of teens born from gamete donors also concluded that “age of disclosure is important in determining donor offspring’s feelings about their donor conception” and it is “less detrimental for children to be told about their donor conception at an early age.”
But the relationship could take on many levels from simply just telling your child the facts of his or her birth and conception to integrating the donor into your life, says Andrea Braverman, a psychologist and the director of complimentary and alternative medicine at Reproductive Medicine Associates (RMA) of New Jersey.
“The trend I’ve seen is open donation relationships that are like an open adoption,” she says. “If you tell children early and often then they grow into the ideas and are able to weave their own stories out of it.”
So the current trend being encouraged by many therapists and medical groups is to disclose in age-appropriate ways. Not only does this prevent an element of "surprise" down the road, but, given the mounting evidence about the powerful role of genetics in health, many professionals say children have a right to know their medical history.
Having a conversation with your child about egg donation is definitely not an easy thing to do, but it’s perhaps an act that will benefit your child (and your family) in the long run.
Want to hear how one mom did it? Watch this video, Telling Your Child Her Egg Donor Story.