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There’s been an element of the TTC journey that I have not yet posted about here.  Partly because I haven’t found the energy to do so, and partly because I wanted to maintain some privacy around this in case I was able to be identified in real life from this blog.

For a number of reasons, I feel compelled to post about it now.  Over the past 4 months, we have been speaking to a couple with embryos they want to donate.  When the clinic told us about them, they said this couple wants an open donation, and I said that I was really only looking to have any resulting children able to meet their siblings at adulthood.  The doctor said, “I think it’s a good fit.  You should talk to them – I don’t think they are looking to have Christmas together or anything.”

Turns out, he might have been very wrong about that.  In the first emails to this couple, I outlined what kind of relationship we wanted to have – which is that the children can meet siblings as adults if they wish.  They told us they were still thinking about it and just wanted more information about us.  Understandable, so we have spent 4 months telling these people pretty much everything about us.  They’ve been receptive and said that they liked us and were just wanting to nail down some details and they were asking the clinic what papers they needed to sign to give us the embryos.

And that’s when things started derailing.  They wanted to meet in person, which is fine, but we still didn’t know what they were looking for in terms of how involved they felt they needed to be with any kids we might have from these embryos.  I asked that before we met in person, they please let me know what they were seeking in that area.  So, eventually we got a document outlining possible scenarios that ranged from a simple agreement to maintain contact information over the years so adult siblings could meet if they wish to an “extended family” type scenario in which the kids are raised together, knowing each other all along and knowing that they are genetic siblings.  They even outlined the language we would use to explain this to the kids.

I let them know that the extended family option was not suitable for us.  But that we were very interested in maintaining contact information and facilitating meeting between adult children so they can develop whatever relationships they want to have.   I noted that our ideal scenario allowed adult children to meet and have relationships, while allowing both sets of parents to raise their children with autonomy.

The response was tepid.  We were thanked for outlining our ideal scenario, and told again that they would like to meet and that they hoped that we could find an agreement that we could all be comfortable with.  Oh, and we would need to have an attorney draw up a contract with these terms.  I was taken aback.  The clinic has all of the embryo transfer paperwork, so why all of a sudden are we talking about attorneys?  In 4 months of discussion, that has never come up.  Not once.  How can I sign a contract dictating the behavior of children that do not exist yet?  Why don’t I get a chance to meet my kids and decide what is best for them without having some other people dictate that in advance?  It feels very Rumpelstiltskin – you can have what you want now if you give us your child later.  And that’s an exaggeration of course, but the feeling is similar.

And, why are we still “hoping to find an arrangement that feels comfortable for all of us”?  We’ve laid out our ideal parameters and it fit within what they told us was the possibilities – what is left to discuss?  Why are we still “hoping”?  Where else is there to take this conversation?

Here’s where I am struggling.  As I have mentioned, I am growing more comfortable with the idea of not having more children.  And now I am weighing that against potentially having a life that will involve other people who want to be involved with my kids, and who clearly want to have input in to the way these kids are raised.  That’s not going to work for me or us – in any way.

And honestly, I know this may sound selfish, but it is harder for me to understand in this scenario.  I sort of get if someone and their husband create these embryos from their own sperm and eggs and they feel this connection and tie to them – I get that.  But these embryos were from donor eggs and donor sperm, so the only connection is the siblings.  I have a much harder  time understanding, and acquiescing to them wanting this kind of involvement with children who will have no physical or mental ties to them.

I think I am on the verge of deciding we need to walk away from this.  After 2.5 years of infertility treatments, I am loathe to get into a situation where someone else is trying to dictate how I raise my kids.  And, this has been going on for 4 months.  4 months!  And I don’t get the sense that it’s going be be done anytime soon.

I’ve let them know we need more information from them and that we are not sure if we want to move forward at this point.  I did not set up an in-person meeting.  I need to know if we are on the same page, or even near the same page before we do that.  I need to know what things are “must have” for them, so we know if it works for us.  I don’t need or want to talk it out together.

I am frustrated.  Frustrated that the universe has put us in this position.  We are damn good parents and trying to convince people for the last 4 months that we are worthy has been humiliating and exhausting.  Frustrated that we have shared all we have to share, told all we have to tell, and we still have to just wait for them to decide if they feel like making a decision.  Or if they’ve changed their minds about how it should all work.

This, I think, is far more painful and challenging than adopting a baby.  At least in this situation.  Certainly not all embryo donations play out like this.  But, with frozen embryos, there is no timeline.  The baby isn’t going to get born, forcing people to make their peace and make a decision.  In this situation, prospective parents can have this uncertainty dragged on and on and on.  And even if you get the embryos, there’s no guarantee that they are going to work, so your uncertainty continues even if you can get through this part.

So, I don’t know where it goes from here.  I am tired and sad from all that we’ve been through trying to make this work.

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7 responses »

  1. I’m with you I don’t want anyone else helping us raise our children or being involved in anyway like it sounds this couple wants. They sound a bit whacky and kind of cruel at this point.

  2. Wow. This is kind of insane. OK, here’s the deal: the fact is that contracts can’t mandate meetings. While the couple can make you jump through hoops before transfer/donation, any suggested meetings after that aren’t legally enforceable, especially in regards to children that don’t even exist yet and who aren’t going to be signing anything. It’s just not legally binding in any way. The only thing a contract can stipulate is that you’ll “consider” meeting and/or that the adult children will “consider” contact. No proper attorney would use any other language than that. All of which is to say (and I know it probably seems devious, BUT) you can theoretically move forward with the donation and then skip the rest. They’d have no recourse.

    It could be a good idea to talk to an attorney that specializes in third-party reproduction to ensure that the language used reflects this approach. If you want more information, feel free to contact me (chickandeggs at gmail).

    I’m sorry you’re going through this. It really does suck.

    • Thank you for the feedback! You sound very knowledgeable in this area – I might be emailing you for some perspective on this. I’ve really never heard of anyone being in a similar situation, so I’m trying to figure it out as we go….

  3. Just adding my two cents that it does sound like these people ARE jerking you around and being cruel at this point, though I would add the cruelty is likely not intentional or deliberate. They may have started out thinking they were ok with one scenario, and as it started to become a reality their feelings changed. It still sucks, though. As people who presumably suffered from infertility themselves, you’d think they’d be more sensitive to your feelings. I’m so sorry you went through all that.

    • Thanks. I agree that the way they ended up handling the situation was not intentional. I would even hazard a guess that they fail to realize what they put us through, despite my efforts to communicate with clarity and honesty. I spoke to the embryologist from our clinic yesterday and it’s her opinion that despite what they say, they are likely not emotionally ready to donate the embryos yet and thus, have put us through a lot while coming to terms with the reality of donating. I understand that on a logical level, but it definitely sucked being on the other end.

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