This is National Infertility Awareness Week

For those who have conquered infertility by using in-vitro and donor assistance to build their families; awareness is growing and you are not alone. Using a donor to build a family is more widely accepted now than ever before. Learn more here.

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This is National Infertility Awareness Week

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This is National Infertility Awareness Week

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This is National Infertility Awareness Week

Dr. Edwards
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This is National Infertility Awareness Week

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"How We Became a Family" books get a little recognition

Uncommonly Good Books for Kids calls themselves "The underdogs of children's literature, the lesser-known classics, the hidden gems, the MUST READS! Plus a bit of book culture for kids."

Thank you Ellen Trachtenberg of Uncommonly Good Books for Kids for your fabulous resource for children's books and for helping to get the word out about our book "How We Became a Family!" Please like and share their Facebook post. Thank you everyone!

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Germany Decides to Allow Donor Identification

This article is a good indicator for understanding that there is a process to legal actions, and that laws change, usually after many years. Once we realize after the fact, that it actually might be a good thing to know our child's genetic origins, it still feels like a betrayal to the donors. I'm curious if I'm the only mother of a donor conceived child who thinks and feels like this?

At the time of our children's conception, we were focused on one thing; to make/have a baby. We went into an agreement with an anonymous third party who generously offered to help us achieve our goals. We all kept our end of the agreement. It was a success for all three parties; the parents, the donor and the child. A life was born, a family was made.

I can't help but think about the parents who achieved a similar goal via adoption. They have little or no genetic background of their child, and the birth mother and father are almost always anonymous. I wonder how all of this information will disseminate legally or not through our society over the next generation. 

All I know is that keeping open and honest communication between yourself and your donor conceived child is the best approach of all. Information, laws and attitudes change all the time, but the one constant that doesn't change is the intention of a loving and respectful relationship with ourselves, our children and our anonymous donors.

German court decision raises more questions than answers

February 2015

By Dr Petra Thorn

On 28 January this year the German Federal Court of Justice decided in a landmark court case that donor conceived people have the right to access the identity of their donor - independent of the offspring's age.

The decision is the outcome of decades of legal challenges over donor anonymity in Germany.

Since 1989, there have been several court cases whose outcomes indicated that children have a right to access their genetic origin. And in 2013, a German higher court granted this right explicitly to a young woman conceived by donor insemination for the first time.

In January this year, the Federal Court of Justice confirmed this right and, unexpectedly, also ruled that the right to access the donor's identity is independent of the age of the child.

In this most recent court case, the parents of two children aged 12 and 17, appealed to the Court of Justice after the clinic refused to provide the donor's identity. At the time of treatment, the parents had signed a document with the clinic indicating they had no interest in the donor's identity. However, as the children grew older, they wanted to retrieve this information.

The clinic did not provide the donor's identity as they had granted the donor anonymity unless a court decision overruled this. The parents therefore appealed to the State Court in Hannover, which rejected the appeal saying that disclosure of identity would only be possible after the children turned 16 - the age at which adopted children in Germany can access information on their biological origins. The parents then took the case to the Federal Court of Justice.

The subsequent decision of the Court of Justice is a good basis to prepare further legal and logistical changes. At the same time, however, it also indicates the challenges ahead.

For example, confusion has already appeared over the effect of the recent ruling on legal paternity. In Germany, although parents cannot contest paternity once they have both agreed to donor insemination, the child can. So far in Germany there has never been a case in which a child has contested the legal paternity of his or her father after donor insemination. And most, if not all, court cases initiated by donor conceived people in other countries have concerned access to the identity of the donor, not the desire for the donor to become a legal parent.

Nevertheless, in media contributions last week, there were several misleading articles indicating, or at least suggesting, that donors now run a greater risk of becoming the legal parent. This is simply not correct as family law has not been changed. The risk remains the same and no donor recruited through the medical system in Germany has ever become a legal parent.

At the same time, sperm donors still do not enjoy full legal protection in Germany. For example, in the case of lesbian parents who are not in a legal relationship and who, therefore, cannot adopt a child conceived through donor insemination, as well as in the case of single mothers, the donor runs the risk of legal paternity with all consequences including visitation rights for the child. Donors should enjoy full legal protection independent from the sexual orientation or the civil status of the recipient women.

Another issue is that there was no statement by the court regarding the fact that, in the past, donors were ensured anonymity. This decision raises the question of whether donors will become identifiable even though they donated at a time when doctors typically informed them that they would remain anonymous. This seems tantamount to a retrospective removal of anonymity.

Several other questions remain:

  • If young children can access their donor's anonymity, what happens in those cases where children are not yet aware of their donor conception - can parents claim rights to the donor's identity?
  • If young children would like to meet the donor, what are helpful procedures to ensure that this contact is a positive experience for everybody involved?
  • It is interesting that prior to this court case, adopted children had more rights enshrined in legislation than donor-conceived children. Now, children conceived by donor insemination seem to have more rights than adopted children who still have to wait until they are 16 to access information about their origins. What does this mean for adopted children?

Germany is lacking a comprehensive legal framework for donor insemination and, once again, this court decision has only highlighted the challenges this presents. German legislators now have the task to tackle this and to initiate legal changes that respect the rights and needs of every party involved in donor insemination.

Link to Original Source 


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Skin Cells to Help IVF Couples; No Donor Needed

Wow Science is amazing, especially cutting edge genetics. Read on, be inspired!  

Infertile couples who cannot produce their own sex cells may finally be able to have children through IVF after scientists achieved a key breakthrough in making sperm and eggs from skin cells.

For the first time, researchers have converted human skin cells in a laboratory into the “primordial germ cells” normally found within the testes and ovaries, which develop into mature sperm and eggs. It is the first and most crucial stage in making male and female sex cells in a test tube.

Eventually, scientists hope to make sperm cells from a man’s skin and eggs from a woman’s so that infertile couples who cannot produce their own sex cells or “gametes” could still have biological children following IVF, the researchers said.

The development could also lead to a better understanding of the “epigenetic” changes within human cells that contribute to ageing and cancer because of the insights it will give scientists about how adult human skin cells can be reprogrammed into sperm and eggs, said Professor Azim Surani of the University of Cambridge.

“I’m extremely excited. This is the first step in demonstrating that we can make primordial germ cells without putting them into patients to verify they are genuine. I think it would probably take between five and seven years to reach that point, and several years after that before they can be used to treat patients,” Professor Surani said.

Scientists in Japan had already shown that it is possible to produce sex cells from the skin cells of laboratory mice and that these eggs and sperm can be fertilised to produce viable, healthy offspring when placed back into the ovaries of surrogate mothers. However, no one until now had been able to show that it was possible to pass the first stage of this process with human skin cells. It was achieved by first inducing the skin cells into embryonic-like stem cells and then switching on a key gene called Sox17 to trigger their conversion to primordial germ cells, Professor Surani said.

The next stage will be to produce synthetic testes or ovaries as simple “organoids” growing in a laboratory dish in which the primordial germs cells will grow and divide into mature sperm and eggs.

The development could also lead to a better understanding of the “epigenetic” changes within human cells that contribute to ageing and cancer

The development could also lead to a better understanding of the “epigenetic” changes within human cells that contribute to ageing and cancer (Rex)

“As far as I know there are no existing regulations saying that we can’t do this sort of work,” Professor Surani said. “We’re going to keep working on it and if we reach a point where we are very close to making gametes then I think we will actually ask the university ethical committee first.”

A key feature of the study, published in the journal Cell, was that the human primordial germ cells became stripped of the chemicals surrounding the DNA of the chromosomes thought to be responsible for the epigenetic changes a cell undergoes as it develops.

This will lead to a better understanding of ageing and cancer because primordial germ cells are effectively immortal due to their role in ensuring that genetic information is passed on through the generations, Professor Surani said. “It’s not just about making sperm and eggs for infertility, which would be good, but it also has implications for germ-cell tumours as well as the understanding of this epigenetic reprogramming, which is quite unique, you don’t see it anywhere else,” Professor Surani said.

“Germ cells provide an enduring link between all generations, carrying genetic information from one generation to the next,” he said.

“The erasure of epigenetic information ensures that most, if not all, epigenetic mutations are erased, which promotes ‘rejuvenation’ of the lineage and allows it to give rise to endless generations. These mechanisms are of wider interest towards understanding age-related diseases,” he added.

Go here to read the original source: 

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Egg Meets Sperm = Zinc Explosion

Check this video out: The Amazing chemical reaction when sperm reaches egg.

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A Thank You Letter To Our Egg Donor

©Teresa Villegas

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 Bernard
If you were going to write a letter to your donor, what would you say to them today?
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