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,
WE DON’T KNOW WHAT WE’RE GOING TO DO.
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.