Tuesday, March 22, 2011

When does the acceptance of a gift become wrong?

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In fairy tales, people frequently face ethical dilemmas.  Generally, those characters that make the right choice and go the altruistic route do well for themselves, while those that choose to do what is in their own interests don’t fair so well.  There are a lot of people out there who believe that I would be in the latter group when it comes to using an egg donor.  And being the dual personality (logic versus emotions) that I am, I sometimes struggle with the idea that they could be right.

In the last week, I have watched the movies “The Island” and “Never Let Me Go.”  For those of you who have not seen these movies, I will try not to give anything away.  But I will say that they both raise questions about the creation of people and/or clones for the express purpose of having those people/clones provide organs or reproductive capabilities to people who need them.  In both movies, it is clear that the message is that this is a horrific prospect and that there are lines we must be careful not to cross.  The problem is, when I was talking with a friend/coworker about these movies (a friend who doesn’t know that we are using an egg donor), she said “That’s the world we’re headed to.  They are already exploiting young girls and paying them to sell their eggs or their babies so that rich women can have children they aren’t meant to have.  Other women are being coerced into acting as incubators for other people’s babies.  People are meant to die.  Some people are not meant to have children.  Our population control depends on these things.”  I smiled and said “Oh.  I didn’t really see it that way.”  Then, I quickly walked away so I could hyperventilate in my own space.  This friend is not stupid, uneducated, cruel or excessively religious.  If she feels this way, how many other everyday people feel this way, too?

I guess I’ve always known that these attitudes exist.  But, every time I am actually confronted with someone expressing these attitudes, there is a small part of me that questions whether I am contributing to a moral slippery slope that could result in the world becoming the one that these movies depict.  I am taking the gift of someone’s reproductive tissue in order to fulfill my dream of being a mother, and I worry about how my donor will feel in the future about the decision she is making now.  But I choose to push that concern out of my mind so that I can be okay about using her eggs because emotionally, I have to. 

I understand that these aren’t the egg donor’s vital organs and that she is willingly giving her eggs to me, but she is being financially compensated (as well she should be), and I have heard people say “What is the difference between an egg donor and a poor person selling his heart to someone rich in order to get money to take care of his family?”  Other than the fact that one is a vital organ, I don’t know the answer.  The heart donor could say that he is donating for altruistic reasons.  And even though I do not believe that my egg donor is donating her eggs because her financial situation requires her to do so (there is no desperation or anything other than an altruistic attitude exhibited in her profile), what if I am wrong?  What if she looks back years from now and regrets her decision?  My mother gave a child up for adoption when she was 18 and living out of her car.  Even though she knows it was the best thing for the baby, she has never gone more than a couple of days without mentioning how sad she is, not knowing where and how her son is.  She still sees him as her son.  What if my donor feels that way?   

These thoughts make me crazy…usually in my dreams…but sometimes when I am awake.  I feel like the logic of the arguments against egg donation must fall apart somewhere…but I can’t find the flaw in the reasoning.  I don’t know if I can’t find the flaw because it doesn’t exist or because I am so close to this issue, I’m not able to view it without my emotional self getting in the way of clear thinking.  If anyone out there has some logical argument that I am missing here, please share it with me.  I could really use the peace of mind.


Christina said...

Would you think that people using donated blood or bone marrow or a kidney are on that thin gray line as well? People are paid to donate plasma; are they too being exploited?

As a previous egg donor, I can say that I did not feel exploited in the least. The donors have to jump through a lot of hoops before they even get paired up with a recipient. They have to undergo a psych eval and that makes one think a lot about how they would feel about their genetic material walking around in the world. If they are just motivated by the $$ compensation, there are lots of easier and quicker ways to make that cash than to do weeks of injections and undergo surgery.

Do not let this friend make you feel guilty about using donor eggs in the slightest. The donor elected to do this and her well-being will not be in jeopardy. You deserve this and have a right to pursue it.

Princess Wahna Bea Mama said...

Thank you, Christina. I had hoped that you would weigh in, as I remembered you previously mentioning that you had been an egg donor. I really like the analogy to blood, plasma or bone marrow donation. That helps a lot.

Lindsey said...

I don't have any experience with this but I wanted to send you over to singleinfertlefemale.blogspot.com SIF was an egg donor twice in her early 20s and now in her later 20s found out that she can no longer have kids due to stage 4 endo. Even now, knowing she most likely can't produce anymore biological kids she is still very glad she donated. Anyway, you should read some of her posts about it.

Also on this "friend" of yours, shes sounds ignorant, regardless of her education. I guess this is why we think IF needs to be a secret, to protect ourselves from bitches like that!

S said...

I would see using a donor egg to achieve pregnancy as more akin to receiving donated blood or bone marrow than to receiving a heart or to exploiting the donor in any way. The donor can easily part with a few eggs and be (in most cases) no worse off for this; no one can live long without a heart.

Have you found the organization Parents Via Egg Donation? It was suggested to me several months ago by a reader of my blog, and I've found it to be an invaluable resource for talking about questions like these (and all aspects of DE) with people who have "been there, done that."

I'm sure other everyday people who have never dealt with IF think like your friend. I know I'd never even heard off egg donation until a couple of years ago, and I was a RN for several years and am an educated person.

Princess Wahna Bea Mama said...

Thank you ladies for all of the great advice on resources to seek out on this issue. Normally I am relatively at peace with our use of a donor, but it doesn't take too much to throw me off balance these days. I really appreciate your support.

New Year Mum said...

I'm with you all re donating eggs being like donating blood/bone marrow.... and can't imagine that they feel coerced into doing it. I think that any person or couple who wants to parent and love a child with all their heart (as you do)... should be able to access different options to be able to do this. Until our society is able to completely eradicate child abuse and neglect, then I don't think our society is in a position to judge loving parents who are doing what is legal and available. It must be so hard to battle with these thoughts at the same time as IF... but your intention is the most important thing and technology can help you. I think the person you spoke with was a little harsh in her judgement of these option. Supporting you all the way xoxo