Despite the fact that 1 in 8 U.S. couples face infertility, there are still misconceptions and a lingering stigma from society at large against using frozen egg donation cycles to conceive.
While the general attitude towards donating eggs has evolved, those using an egg donor may still have to deal with uncalled-for judgment and negative comments.
Here, we explore some of the issues you may face when choosing donor egg IVF, and how to successfully navigate through them.
Why is there a stigma surrounding donor eggs?
Uninformed opinions about donor eggs
For those who are struggling to conceive, an uninformed relative or friend may conclude that a child conceived through an egg donor isn’t “really” their parents’ child. Others may be concerned that the future child may not be able to know their donor, which they may see as being unfair to the child. Furthermore, since many who choose to use donor eggs may be 40 or over, society may say they are “too old” to be having children and should ‘take a hint’ from Mother Nature.
However, this stigma is often based on uninformed opinions or complete misconceptions. You are the only one who knows your individual situation – you know using an egg donor is the right choice for you. However, when dealing with these stigmas surrounding donor eggs, you may experience many difficult emotions.
Common worries and concerns about donor eggs (and why they aren’t true)
Worries about your donor-conceived child ‘not feeling like yours’
One of the biggest worries hopeful parents face when choosing to use donor eggs is that their baby will not feel like it belongs to them. Fortunately, this worry is often unfounded; pregnancy allows you to bond with your child even before he or she is born.
Anxieties about telling your child about their conception with frozen donor eggs
You may feel anxiety about revealing how your child was conceived to them, and perhaps worry that your child will love you less after finding out 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 greatly desired addition to your family, and won’t 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.
Concerns about where your donor eggs come from or the donor egg process
There are many fears surrounding the process of IVF using donor egg, but there is 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 your donor, your donor’s eggs will be shipped to your fertility practice and your doctor will prepare you for an embryo transfer. You’ll have many allies working with you to make the process as comfortable and simple as possible.
Fear about your child meeting their frozen egg donor
As a parent, you may also be anxious about what will happen when your child is old enough to meet their donor.
Two common fears are that your child will feel strangely about your decision to use an egg donor, or that the dynamics within your 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’s 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 against uninformed opinions (and your own worries) about frozen donor eggs
Know that it’s ultimately your decision whether you choose to reveal that you’re using an egg donor to your family and friends.
It’s nobody’s business but your own, and you’re under no obligation to tell anyone.
But – if you’re willing to – 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 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. For example, newborns are finely attuned to their mothers’ voices before they’re even born.
Ultimately, once your child arrives, you are his or her mother – there’s no doubt about it.
It’s your personal choice and 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 your loved ones about your decision, know that you’re also helping pave the way for others who decide to embark on the same path!