Even though 1 in 8 couples in the U.S. will face infertility, there are still misconceptions and stigma from society at large over the use of donor eggs for conception. While the general attitude towards the egg donor process has evolved, those using an egg donor may still have to deal with judgement and negative comments. Here, we explore some of the issues you may face, and how to successfully navigate through them.
The Stigma of Using Donor Eggs
For couples who are struggling to conceive, there is a perceived hierarchy to achieving conception. Donor eggs are often low on this list, since an outside perspective may reason that a child conceived through donor egg is not “really” their parents’ child. Some may also be concerned that the future child will not be able to know their biological mother, which they may see as being unfair to the child. Furthermore, since many women who choose to use donor eggs may be 40 or over, society may say they are “too old” to be having children and should have taken a hint from Mother Nature.
However, this stigma is often based on uninformed opinions or even complete misconceptions. You are the only one who knows your individual situation – you know that using an egg donor is the right choice for you. However, when dealing with these stigmas surrounding using donor eggs for your pregnancy, you may experience many difficult emotions.
One of the biggest worries people face when choosing to use a donor egg is that their baby will not feel like it belongs to them. Fortunately, this worry is often unfounded, because the process of carrying the baby to term will allow the mother to bond with her child even before he or she is born.
One might also feel anxiety about revealing to their future child how they were conceived with a donor egg. They may worry that the child will love them less after knowing, or be hurt by the secret that was kept from them. However, when explained in an age-appropriate way, most children are able to see they were a desired addition to your family, and will not perceive it as a negative. In fact, they may gain a greater appreciation for how much you’ve gone through in order to have them.
There are many fears surrounding the process of IVF using donor egg, but there is really nothing to fear. Egg donors are extensively prescreened before retrieval, so you can rest assured that your egg donor is healthy and fertile. Once you select a donor, the eggs will be shipped to your practice and your doctor will prepare you for transfer. You will have many allies working with you to make the process as comfortable and simple as possible.
As a parent, you may also be anxious about what will happen when your child is old enough to want to meet their donor. Common fears are that the child will feel strangely about their parent’s decision, or that the dynamics within their family will change. When faced with this situation, the best thing you can do is to respond with love instead of fear. See it as an opportunity to reach out and connect, in order to expand your own (and your child’s) world and sense of kinship. There is an openness in seeing how this new connection can potentially strengthen family ties. It’s a chance to be confident and strong as parents.
How to Defend Yourself
Know that it is ultimately your decision whether or not you choose to reveal that you are using an egg donor to your family and friends. It is nobody’s business but your own, and you are under no obligation to tell anyone. But, if you are up to it, you may choose to educate them instead. Help clear up old misconceptions and myths, and have conversations about why these misunderstandings exist. Tell them about the science behind the irrefutable connection between an unborn child and its mother. Tell them how nurturing and bonding while in the womb does affect attachment after the child is born. Newborns, for example, are finely attuned to their mothers’ voices before they are even born.
Ultimately, once the child arrives, you are its mother - there is no doubt about it. It is your own personal choice that shouldn’t be affected by the negative judgements of those around you. As society gains more awareness about donor egg use, the stigma around it will reduce over time. When you educate loved ones about your decision, know that you’re also helping pave the way for others who decide to embark on the same path!