Egg Donation: Should it be a secret?

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Egg Donation: Should it be a secret?

Parents of donor conceived children appear to be split in their decision of whether to tell their children the truth. Understandably, some parents are not comfortable sharing with their children that they were a gift of compassion.  Conversely, in a trailblazing era of egg donor awareness, truth is being touted.

Every parent’s situation is unique, and clearly the consensus is split.

Nancy Hass, a writer for Elle, crafted an emotional article entitled, “To Tell, Or Not To Tell, Your Egg Donor Baby.” Hass shared her hard road of infertility and how her daughter was born with the help of a surrogate this year.

She interviewed a bevy of individuals for her piece, including Barry Stevens, 54. Stevens is regarded for his documentary, “Offspring,” in where he is searching for his biological father.  Stevens was conceived through sperm donation.

While sperm and egg donations obviously differ, the need for older children wanting to know who their biological parents are remains the same.

Stevens goes on to say that keeping such secrets can destroy a family and how it was a “barrier that damaged intimacy” in his family unit. In the documentary he asks his mother what it was like to keep the secret for all those years. Her answer: “It was horrible.”

Another woman Hass interviewed was adamant that she would not tell her daughter about her donor conception. “It’s nothing more than a blood donation as far as I’m concerned,” she said.

Hass pushed more as to why this would be kept a secret.

“Look, we don’t plan to tell our daughter because we don’t think it’s important, period.”

The people in the article conveyed emotionally charged points of view. But how do the courts look upon this in the third-party reproductive century?

Currently, there are no laws in the United States that require disclosure to a child created via an egg donor or sperm donor as there is in Canada and the United Kingdom. In those countries, there is no anonymous egg and sperm donations, which may be why there have been some reports of a two-year wait for discovery in the United Kingdom.

Most children want to know the story of how they were conceived, and we understand that. But there are parents who never want to tell for many reasons. Some may stem from cultural issues and some out of fear – that their child will be treated differently by their friends and family that could lead into an identity crisis of some sort.

For whatever reason, there should be sensitivity on both sides.

Hass then interviewed Patricia Mendel, a psychologist who specializes in third-party reproduction. Depending on the case, she describes to Hass how the sessions can be rough.

“The child already may have been born, may be getting old enough to understand, and suddenly parents realize that they aren’t sure what to do,” she said.

Mendel then dug deeper mentioning a more fundamental trigger which is perhaps the shame of having been infertile.

She tells Hass, “Maybe they didn’t find a person to love until they were 39, or maybe it’s a second marriage and there are other kids. Maybe the husband is much younger. Whatever it is, they have a lot of problems acknowledging that they couldn’t use their own egg.”

Hass then explores her own feelings having used an egg donor, a surrogate, and her husband’s sperm to create their daughter. While she fantasizes of not telling, she knows she will.

“I understand the lure of the lie,” she said. “She didn’t get my eyes, but what I’m hoping is that by giving her the truth, I can help her see.”