It is Thanksgiving Day here in the U. S.. As I write this, there is a photo next to my computer of our 3 beautiful children. This is what I am most thankful for. Years ago, we made the decision after many attempts over 4 years, month after month using various methods (drugs & procedures with recurrent disappointment) to finally use the help of an egg donor to build our family.
Not a day goes by that we are not reminded of the gifts we have been given by the thoughtful women who donated their eggs to us. And this is the perfect day to thank all gamete donors (egg donors, sperm donors, embryo donors, surrogates). The people who have helped other people suffering from infertility or inability to build families and gave of themselves. Without their help our children wouldn't exist.
There's controversy in the fertility world over the use of the word "donor" because they get paid for their services. Therefore it's not really a donation. Regardless of the donors motivations, for us it was a gift. The fact that this option even exists is the same no matter what you call it and that is where the gift lies.
For all of us who've traveled down this path of infertility to family building, it's an opportunity. For the successful and fortunate ones like us –it's a baby or two. In general, throughout the whole donor process, it's not common practice for the receiving couple to have any contact with the donor. The donor service we went through did not encourage it and anonymity was the only choice at the time in 2002. This was our lawful agreement.
But on the day when our anonymous donor was scheduled to arrive at our doctors clinic to retrieve and transfer her eggs, we could not ignore the fact that her presence was there. She was in the same city, in the same fertility clinic, in the same parking lot, in the same waiting room, with the same doctor and staff –within 24 hours of us.
The day before, we arrived at the clinic in the morning to prepare for the next days transfer and brought with us a little gift bag of our appreciation and thanks with a card expressing our gratitude. The nurses said they would be sure to give it to her, and hopefully she received it. I remember writing a note in the card, and what a hard time I had doing so.
What can you say to someone who is giving you the gift of an opportunity at life? This little gift bag of lotions and self-care products from Origins (along with the thousands of dollars we had already previously paid her), felt like an uneven exchange. Would I still feel as grateful to her had we not succeeded? Who decides the monetary value of donor gametes, is it "what the market will bear" kind of value? And is it true that donor gametes aren't as valuable unless they are fertilized and successfully become a baby? It didn't really matter at this point. She agreed and we agreed. We both kept our word and did what we said we would do.
Because she was so close in proximity to us, we had to at least try to let her know how much we appreciated her. We don't know if she got our token gift or what happened next for her, but our growing appreciation for her will forever remain constant in our family. If we could write her a note today, it would be a little different than the first attempt, and this is what we would say:
Dear Egg Donor,
This letter is written to express our gratitude to you and to let you know how much we both admire and respect you for what you have done for us.
We know that this letter of appreciation cannot come close to the gift you have given us, but we want you to know that we are reminded every day when our children look up at us with their beautiful faces of your generosity.
Through their eyes that shine, laugh, cry and love us, we know that we could never have had this in our lives if it weren't for you. Our hope is that if you ever have any doubts about yourself, your choices, or the direction your life is taking you, you should know that you have given a part of yourself that continues to give love and joy in this world.
Being the generous and thoughtful kind of person who went through all this for us, makes us want to say thank you again and again. From the bottom of our hearts, we are grateful for everything you have done to help us fulfill our dreams of becoming a family with three beautiful children.
With gratitude, appreciation and love, Teresa and BernardIf you were going to write a letter to your donor, what would you say to them today?