Answer from: Saghar Kasiri, Clinical Embryologist
It’s difficult to answer for the majority of the population that are within the treatment of egg donation. So, those patients that receive egg donation, we see a lot of happy parents and perhaps one of the reasons is that the mother or intended patient, the female, carries the baby so, from the time that is embryo, even though donor eggs have been used, from the times embryos is actually inside, growing and being nourished inside the uterus of the mother, she gives birth to it, she breastfeeds it and there is a very strong bond between the mother and the child in majority of the cases but if we want to say 100% guarantee that nobody would regret this, it’s very wrong to say that. I think it’s very much dependent on how well the intended parents have received perhaps counseling before going through the egg donation process and that’s something that a majority of doctors do suggest that intended parents do receive counselling and think about the implications of receiving either a donation or a sperm donation.
Answer from: Elli Papadopoulou, BSc
Regret has to do with expectations.
Identifying your priorities, defining what is ecological for you and your family, evaluating your options and putting them to the test both in a pragmatic as well as an emotional way will assist you in being clear regarding your expectations of egg donation.
Every choice we make has benefits and constraints. Egg donation is a crucial decision one makes regarding their fertility journey and the future of their family life. Therefore, it may prove beneficial to take the time ideally with the support of a trained mental health specialist, to explore your options and consider the beliefs and values you hold regarding non-genetic parenthood.
You may need to reconfigure your conceptualization of parenthood and address the loss of the imagined genetically related child before you decide the path of egg donation. You should proceed to nongenetic parenthood only after you have dealt with the pain of not having a genetic child.
It is what I call the fertility decisions ladder. Imagine that each choice point in your fertility journey is like a step of a staircase. To progress and move on to the next step with confidence, conviction, and faith you need to have said goodbye to the previous choice point, to the previous step. No looking back, no ‘what if’ which will confuse us in our fertility journey.
The more aware you are of all these aspects, the less likely it is that you feel disappointed and regretful of your choices.
Answer from: Nurit Winkler
That is a very good question. We see the struggle and understand the need to go towards the egg donation process and I think it comes from different aspects. The first is always some sadness of giving up on your own genes, very natural, there are only a few people who will say they are okay or it’s fine it doesn’t matter to me. So there are some but the majority want it to feel like it is mine, this is my dream and the moment I became a parent, I wan it to be my genes. That is one part that requires some sort of soul searching and sometimes some counseling, there is no shame, in fact the opposite, get some counseling, put some of those things out and address them, they are very normal. The second is fear, am I going to love this child as mine and is this child going to love me the same way. This will mean how good of a mom, dad or parent I am going to be which is also a fear if it is your own genes. So many people ask am I going to be a good mom, but you really don’t know this, so these are all very legitimate and natural fears that come with this process and we think it is very important to address them and talk about them, with a partner, with friends or a counselor, just put it out there and address them.
Our experience at least, whilst it takes a long time to accept that, we have never seen regret, we always hear the opposite e.g. my god, why did I go through so much IVF and spent so much money when I should have moved to egg donation much earlier, because it makes no difference. We hear it all the time and it’s funny because I have patients coming in with their kids and I forgot they used an egg donor. So from a mother’s perspective, all we hear is how happy they are and that they should have done it sooner. Some have said, I have wasted time, money and misery and now I am so happy. Therefore the answer is no, we see the opposite, we don’t see them regret, we regret seeing them suffer so much just to get to that point.
The second aspect is does the child feel the same. They have completed a lot of studies on this and it’s very hard to see what study you can do. Some of the studies look at the well being of the child at school and it is not a perfect method, but one of the things they look at is if a child does well, behaviour wise, at school it means that he is well adjusted. They do not have to be an A grade student, but if they do not have behavioural issues and so on, if they have adjusted well. Now, I am very careful about saying that as kids can have many behaviour issues and have the most loving family and not in any way did I mean this negatively, but it’s a very imprecise way that they try to assess that and there is no difference at all, those kids were well adjusted, from their perspective, it’s all they knew, they were born into this loving family.
One important point to bring up is whether to tell the kid or not. There is a lot of discussion about this and in the US now, everyone is pushing into saying which I agree with. But I also feel it is extremely paternalistic for anyone to come and tell a family what to do, ultimately it needs to be something you are comfortable with doing. If you are looking at literature and the studies, telling the child is a way better way to go and it is very important how you tell them, how you couldn’t have your own so e.g. I chose the best genes for you, for me to carry. There are many empowering ways for you to do this and it is important for you to say it earl on. One of the reasons being that the child discovers later on in life through services such as 23 and me, and there will always be this secret that runs in the family and children are especially sensitive when something is hidden from them and they don’t understand what this black hole is, it could be something awful. There is always this cloud that could pass through when something is being kept hidden and unsaid in the family, that potentially could be discovered later and be traumatic. Therefore speaking of whether you are going to be a good parent, we all hope so, but whether you are going to be a good parent or not, has nothing to do with an egg donation, it’s your own expression of who you are. Is the kid going to love you? Absolutely! It won’t make a difference but those things about telling them or not are very important.
Answer from: Becky Kearns
That is often a huge worry for people, especially where it is not a clear cut diagnosis. In my own experience, I have been through five cycles of IVF with my own eggs, I’d had a pregnancy with my own eggs which ended in miscarriage, so I was always thinking what if we gave it one more chance, what if we tried again. In some ways I just wanted someone to say to me, ‘do it, move to donor eggs and that’s what you need to do’, no one was really saying that. They were saying you could try this, it could give you a better chance. Really, for me making that decision was about redefining what it meant to be a mom. But also looking at the statistics as well and having been through five cycles with a five percent chance, I was then told I would have more than a fifty percent chance using donor eggs and I think I started to think a little bit more with my head and less so with my heart and thinking of what we really wanted: a family. Also what we could continue doing as well, We’ve been through so many cycles so emotionally it was incredibly difficult and we had to make that decision for our own sanity as well.
Being in the position that I am in now with three children through donor eggs, I don’t believe that once you’ve got that child in your arms you’ll ever look back and think what if I’d have tried again with my own eggs because you wouldn’t have that exact child that you’ve got right there and so its really difficult to put yourself in that place in the very beginning. But from the other side, I know that I wouldn’t change our girls for the world, so for me there are no regrets whatsoever in moving to donor eggs.
Do you regret using a donor egg?
Although most women have many concerns about accepting donor eggs, carrying a pregnancy, giving a birth and later on a taking care of baby – perhaps due to hormonal changes, changes all that worries and none of them regrets that decision.