Thursday, August 02, 2007

Adoption Vs. IVF: Part 2


So what about IVF? What are the pros about IVF? Well, first of all, it’s cheaper than adoption. (Who knew?) And I hope that the first part of tome makes you realize that it’s not like there are dozens of adoptable children just hanging around waiting to be picked up. It’s a lot harder, expensive, time oppressive than it looks.

But IVF has very big risks, especially that it can fail. Adoption ALWAYS has a child at the end of the path. IVF does not. But with a successful IVF, I’d get to be pregnant again, and I’d be able to easily breastfeed. (Well, as easy as breastfeeding ever is. But still, it would be objectively be easier than adoption)

One big problem is that we don’t know where I fall in the IVF success risk. I get pregnant a lot more than the typical early 40ish woman. Am I more like a 35 year old? Will IVF be as successful for me as it would be for a 35 year old? And I’d like to point out that the rates are not all that encouraging, even for a 35 year old. But I honestly and truly do not think I’m a typical early 40’s woman.

That said, there is another option that we had originally thrown out: donor eggs. I originally felt that it was a very vain option: if I wanted donor eggs, then I must believe that I have to be pregnant to add to our family even if this child is not genetically related to me. On the other hand, if it is not important for me to have a genetic connection to my child, why wouldn’t I go ahead and adopt? That was my reasoning until we saw all this crap about how expensive adoption is and how fraught it is with failure.

And this IVF route is not as expensive as you’d think: $23,000 and the possibility of 6 fertilized eggs which could yield 2 or maybe 3 children! We could have a really big family! On a per child basis, it could be pretty cheap. Of course, daycare would set us back a bazillion dollars and we’d be 80 before everyone graduated from high school. (I’m kidding, folks!)

Of course, I’m being very positive in those statistics: It’s possible to only get 2 fertilized eggs and to have them not implant and then you are left with nothing for $23,000. That's a bad, bad thing. The current success rate is 60% at our clinic, but it all depends on how many fertilizable eggs the donor produces.

And then there’s the “issue” with donor eggs. I’m not supposed to let anyone know that we have even heard of it, much less considered it. It’s supposed to be a taboo subject that parents might want to (should?) keep this information away from their donor-egg children and even more so from the community around them. It might affect the children’s identity in the future, because they are not technically genetically related to their birth mother.

I would like to pause here for a moment and direct you to reread the beginning of this essay. I will even point to yesterday. A child who has gestated in his/her mother’s belly for 9 months is more susceptible to identity issues as a teenager and adult than the only black person in the family? More?!?!? Is that how “bad” IVF advocates think adoption is!?

I don’t get it. And I don’t get why women are so unwilling to talk about it. Women like Jane Seymour, Elizabeth Edwards, Joan Lunden, Holly Hunter and Geena Davis who appear to most likely have used egg donors to have their children. (In fact, pay the $2.95 and read the recent NY Times article yourself). How can IVF with egg donor be more identity shaking for the child than adoption? I think the real issue is the very high probability of being able to lie to child about his/her origins and get away with it. How can that sort of untruth ever be helpful? (For the 50% of you who have used donor eggs and are not going to tell, I do not judge you. I simply cannot keep my mouth shut for that long.)

The analogy I’ve heard about egg donation is that it’s sort of like a kidney donation or even bone marrow donation. Somebody had a need. Some other healthier person had extra. Once “it” leaves the donator for the donated, the donator has no claim on it again. This whole process has even spawned a new word: biogenetic child to distinguish that some children are both biologically and genetically related to their mother.

So there we are, people. You now know a lot of what I have learned in the past two months. (I should have entitled this “What I did on my summer vacation.”) That’s a boatload of information and I should get an A on this project. Nonetheless,


Ok? We don’t know if we’re going to adopt, if we’re going to choose IVF, or if we decide to choose IVF whether we’ll use donor eggs. WE DON’T KNOW. I hope that all of a sudden I just get pregnant “naturally” with a healthy child and save us about $20,000 in the cost of finishing up our family.

I also don’t know that if we decide to use donor eggs that we’ll tell you. As Dave and I have discussed, you can’t unring that bell. And if we, upon further discussion, see why we should keep this a big secret, we really don’t want the internets knowing about it.

We’ve had to wrestle with putting this out here (for the three of you who are still reading the end of this loooong essay) because if we do decide to do IVF regularly, that idea that they are donor eggs is now planted in your head.

But it bugs me to think that there’s some myth that egg donor children are more fragile than adoptees in their self image and identity issues. I’ll be goddamned if I’m going to put my (in my head) egg donor child’s ego over my (in my head) African-American adopted child’s ego because I see a boatload of advantages for identity/adjustment/ultimate self-concept for the (in my head) egg donor child. The weird thing is how feisty I get in thinking about defending that in-my-head adopted child. The adopted child could have real issues of abandonment and difference that the egg donor child will never, ever have.

So there. That is where we are in the process. We have a great deal of information spread in front of us and we’re going to have to make some decisions soon. This essay is probably more for us to help sort out our decisions than for you to follow. And it really does help for us to get it out.

We have some time to make all these decisions and hopefully be surprised with a healthy pregnancy. Until then, we’re going to keep plodding along until we find that next child who is supposed to be in our family, whoever he or she is.


lisa said...

Apparently I'm one of the three who read the whole essay. Is there a prize?

Aside, I hope this doesn't offend, but when picturing you carrying an egg-donor child, I couldn't stop the phrase Anita is like a box of never know what you're gonna get from popping into my head. Apologies to you and your (in your head) egg-donor child. (But I thought it was a little funny)

Drowned Girl said...

I don't think a De child would be alienated.. if it was something they always knew.

I think for any child, donor conceived, adopted... suddenly finding out you are not who you think, would be a shock.

This is an interesting article

Drowned Girl said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I have collected quite a few articles and links and things about donor eggs, in my sidebar (scroll right down) if you might find it useful...

Good luck with your decision.

Other options include embryo donation, and travelling abroad for DE (cheaper)

Not that I want to make your deliberations any harder! In my case, I was slogging away having regular miscarriages, every few months if you would believe.. and SUDDENLY it came to me - stop doing that, do something else.. and the something else was donor eggs.

Beware though, even young ovaries don't produce all brilliant eggs. Approx 1/3 has the potential to become a baby.

My 28 yo friend/donor produced 30 fertile eggs (too many, she had OHSS) and the fresh cycle failed, we are now doing a FET.

It's not a certainty, sadly.

Drowned Girl said...

Just realised the url I posted in my first comment, got stripped out. Have a lok on my blog. It's the article by an adult donor conceived child, mentioned in one of my posts today.

Jennifer said...

Aaaaand reader #3, checking in.

Yup, Lisa's joke was funny (but then, I would think that, wouldn't I?)

Also wanted to mention that I looked into becoming an egg donor once. It turned out not to be really feasible for a number of largely logistical reasons, but I liked the idea.

I'm having trouble grokking the whole fragile ego thing. I mean, sure, it's big information, but it seems to me that it also kind of skips over a lot of the abandonment issues that can come with adoption. A DE child is pretty much the epitome of a wanted child, it seems to me. With the generosity of the egg donor to boot.

Anyway, warm fuzzy thoughts to you and your (eventual) child/ren.

daisychain said...

I saw your comment over at drowned girl's blog. Welcome to the great debate. I hope your journey takes you to a very happy place.

just me said...

Move to NYC. The successful IVF rate in the early 40's catagories are pretty good and with your m/c rate I'd put in the better than average catagory. Also, NYS makes insurers pay coverage (whateever your policy rate is) for all testing and stuff leading up to the IVF (if youre under 44). They even have a special IVF program to reinburse you.
Best of luck whatever you choose.

Anonymous said...

It's about Microchimeras. I can't remember which newspaper the article was in about the Marmosets and how they have a mixture of cells in their bodies. Probably the NYTimes. Anyway, this from the history of stem cell observations: keep in mind the woman whose liver was badly damaged. Livers regenerate. Biopsy showed her liver cells had XY chromosomes. During pregnancy, cells from the mother inadvertently get introduced into the fetus. Cells from the fetus go through the placenta into the mother. This woman's son's stem cells from during the pregnancy took over the job of rebuilding the liver, hence the XY chromosomes. Basically every pregnancy results in cells being transfered. Therefore, on a micro level, even a child conceived from a donor egg will have cells from the 'gestational' mother in his/her body. Any child you bear will be yours.


Anita said...


I agree. Even knowing that clones look different based on what mother they are in, I have to believe that gestating a baby affects the child at a very deep level, even somewhat genetically.

Martha said...

I've seen pictures of Geena Davis's kids, and they all look exactly like her. She doesn't have any sisters or nieces who could have supplied donor eggs. I read in a 2002 interview that her daughter wasn't planned.

HypotheticalGirl said...

There is also the less-well-known option of donor embryo. Or, as one person I know called it, pre-conception adoption. A mere fraction of the cost of IVF, its much more accessible to more people. And seriously, a fraction....around $3-5K , tops. The embryos come from folks who donate them after successful IVF. So they're proven. If you're willing to go the route of using someone else's genetic material with donor egg, why not use pre-packaged donor egg plus donor sperm.....and you get to pick your embryo.

Anonymous said...

Seems though that the rate of success with donor eggs is pretty good.

I know someone who is not married, over 40 and went the donor egg and donor sperm route. Everything's fine.

I am just the mother said...

Come on over to my blog and see my DE triplets. I have been kinda whiney lately about things going on with me and the struggle of motherhood but there are lots of pics there and I am not always whiney. LOL.....

I plan to tell them about DE, infact the pics that we have of the donor are going in the family photo album so they can see who she is. I have no problems with this at all. I am indebted to this woman for helping me have my boys. And yes they are my boys, I gave birth to them. I just want them to know how much they are loved and how much I wanted to have them.

DE is a good option if you are ready to do it. Good luck!

P.S. I found your blog from your post on mved.

Merrily Rolling said...

I just found you through an optimistic (desperate?) google search of "implantation dip how big." I'm sure you can imagine the news I was hoping to find. I don't even remember if your blog answered my question, but I'm thrilled I ended up here. I'm also an early 40-something with an easily conceived toddler, trying desperately for another with little luck. As I struggle with all the same options you're considering I'm so grateful that you've shared your thinking. I hope you don't mind if I continue to read along.

Los Angeles Egg Donor said...

If a couple cannot be helped through procedures such as in vitro fertilization, they may want to consider using donor eggs.

Los Angeles Egg Donor

Anonymous said...

A few thoughts.I think children of donor egg are more well adjusted in their identity than adoptees.

For one thing, a DE child grows up in a household where he is genetically related to at least one other family member (usually his dad) and also has a genetic connection to that entire side of his family. He also may have genetic half-siblings in the household as well. Also, knowing he was gestated in his mother's body for nine months gives him a biological connection to his mother.

This is how donor egg is very much different from adoption. Which is why its irritating to me when adoptees try to speak out on the issue of egg donation - it is not their arena! There are many differences between egg donation and adoption.

The woman who donated her eggs to me was happy to do so and does not really want to have a relationship with my child, because she has children of her own. She doesn't consider herself a "biological mother" or any kind of "mother" to my child.

Anita Blanchard said...

I do still monitor this site. And I do reserve the right to delete comments that are hateful and factless (i.e., not based on science) towards other people's choices.

So, um, there.