What's Sharing An Egg (Or Sperm) Among Friends? | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

What's Sharing An Egg (Or Sperm) Among Friends?

Though there are more ways today to create a baby than ever before – with help from a friend or stranger's sperm, egg, embryo or womb, just to name a few—questions continue to swirl about what and when to tell the resulting children about how they're related to whom.

Even plans that seem firm before conception can go awry once the child is born, according to a study published this month in Reproductive BioMedicine Online. Samantha Yee, a doctoral student and social worker at the Centre for Fertility and Reproductive Health at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, interviewed 15 women who donated eggs to friends or family members, and 18 women who received eggs from pals and relatives.

No cash was exchanged in these "altruistic" arrangements, Yee says. But there were strings, and that became even more apparent as the infants got older.

"These women are typically close," Yee says. "During the pregnancy, they see themselves as part of the same project, driving each other to clinic appointments and so forth." Egg donor and recipient often know each other's friends and extended families, some of whom may not know about the arrangement.

Initially, everybody involved is so focused on getting pregnant, Yee says, they may not compare notes about what they're going to tell the child and others down the road. She interviewed the women after the babies were born.

"In some cases there was a mismatch in expectations of how they'd handle [the discussion of how the children were conceived]," Yee says. Typically the egg donor wanted to eventually tell the child about the arrangement, but sometimes the recipient didn't.

That sort of mismatch seemed especially complicated, Yee says, when the egg donor had children of her own – genetic half-siblings of the recipient's child. "Suddenly you have a situation where these women see each other all the time, and their children are close in age and good playmates, but there's a secret nobody's talking about."

As one donor put it, "In 25 years, what if [my own child] fell in love with [my donor egg offspring] ...I would never want my child to go through that."

"This type of egg donation can work beautifully," Yee says. "But it's really important that the people involved talk and think through ahead of time what they'll tell all the children. It's not just a one-time discussion."

In September, NPR's Jennifer Ludden reported on the trend towards telling children if they were conceived with donor egg or sperm, and on the desire on the part of some children to find their donors. There are fewer online resources than you'd expect on the issue. Resolve, the nonprofit that advises on infertility options, lists issues to consider when talking to children. And the Donor Sibling Registry addresses what to tell as part of its page on donor family issues.

.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Dressing Up As A T-Rex Is All Part Of The Job

Remember in Empire Strikes Back where Han Solo slices open the belly of a tauntaun so Luke can stay warm? That's not much different from how Eli Presser climbs into his T-Rex costume.
NPR

Plot To Poison Famed French Wine Makes For Gripping (Pinot) Noir

In Shadows in the Vineyard Maximillian Potter tells the true story of the legendary Romanée-Conti vineyard — and how it was held up for a 1 million euro ransom.
NPR

Congress Leaves Town Next Week, But Will Anyone Notice?

Next week is Congress's last before summer recess, which is often when a flurry of bills are pushed through Congress. This year, not so much, NPR's Ron Elving tells NPR's Scott Simon.
NPR

Tech Week: Industry Diversity, Digital Afterlives, Net Neutrality

The roundup: Twitter released a scorecard showing that its workforce is largely male and white. And what happens to our digital stuff after we log off for the last time?

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.