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Of Course Mothers Matter — We Matter

Egg Donation and IVF

a blog by Marna Gatlin, Parents Via Egg Donation, February 20, 2012

Elizabeth Marquardt – I am calling you out. This is from one mother to another:

I read your latest article “Do Mothers Matter,” and I am left with a sort of “What the heck?” head scratching reaction to not only this article, but to you Elizabeth.

You seem to think that if you have a child any way other than “the old fashioned way” (heterosexual sexual relations) that your children are going to reject you, or in some way they are going to suffer. So that means all of us who have had children via in vitro fertilization and egg donation or sperm donation we are in some way harming our children.

You go on to say that in some way if you use an egg donor to create your family, or if you happen to need the services of a gestational carrier, that your child is going to grow up missing his or her “real mother.”

Really, all I could think was: What planet are you from Elizabeth?

What I know about you: You are the Vice President for Family Studies and Director of the Center for Marriage and Families at the Institute for American Values (IAV). You co-authored a report-study titled “My Daddy’s Name Is Donor.” You wrote a study based on those children conceived through sperm donation. You make the argument that those kids created through sperm donation struggle with a parental loss when they don't know their biological father. You also go on to say that this can lead to depression, delinquency and addiction, and you assume the same with donor eggs or surrogate moms.

The problem with this report is that you have no credibility in my opinion. You published non-peer reviewed research under the guide of the IAV. Those who are indeed established academics in the field of donor conception have misgivings that are quite serious about your methods of research because your ability to come to any sort of rational conclusion is not supported by your findings.

Our kids who are conceived via egg donation are going to miss their real mothers, and they are going to become depressed, become juvenile delinquents and become addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, food, etc… I mean really?

Here’s a clue Elizabeth. Guess what else leads to depression, addiction, delinquency? Parents who are unavailable emotionally, bad parents, divorce, abusive parents, unwanted pregnancy, as well as those kids who undergo trauma of some sort, those children who are from disadvantaged socioeconomic circumstances, situations in which kids undergo incredible stress, genetics, and the list goes on. I, for the life of me, cannot fathom that those kids who are intentionally and mindfully brought into this world by non-traditional methods are going to suffer or have some sort of negative impact upon their mental health. I just can’t wrap my head around that.

In reading your article, I think of my child who I just love so much. The kid we brought into this world mindfully. The one we waited for, for many, many years. The child in whom we invested so much time, money, emotion, love, and work. The baby that told us at age 2: “Momma I chose you, I waited in line for a long time”.

Is this kid missing his “genetic parent,” or to take it a step further, “Is this kid missing his genetic mother?” I don’t think so. I am right here — live, in the flesh, caring for him, cheering him on at school, helping him with his homework, taking care of him when he’s sick, comforting him if he’s scared, tending to his scrpped knees, happy or sad — I am the one who is his go to when he needs something.

Not his egg donor.

What I don’t understand Elizabeth is how can you even think for two seconds that somehow my son’s egg donor – genetic parent, genetic mother, whatever you want to call her — is even remotely more important than myself? I mean come on, you are a mother yourself. Think about all you do for your child. Well guess what? I do the same. I care for my child; raise him in a loving and stable home; prepare him for the world; provide him a spiritual education; provide food, clothes, a roof; and offer him unconditional love.

Are kids conceived via egg donation going to have questions? Of course they will. It’s human nature. Some are going to care more than others. My kid is curious. He wants to know if his egg donor is nice. Does he look like her? Does she like coffee and chocolate like he does? Do they share the same allergies? He is also going to tell you that he doesn’t spend his every waking moment wondering what she’s doing. It’s because he has a mother, and his life is full living his life. The way it should be. Does he want to meet her one day? Yes, and why is that? He wants to say “thank you.” He says he wants to complete the circle and thank her for helping us have him. It’s certainly not because he misses her. He doesn’t even know her. She contributed a single cell, a blueprint if you will. She helped give him his start.

I answer every question he asks me about his origins. There are no secrets in our home. He has access to his egg donor’s profile, and we happen to have a great relationship with our fertility doctor John Hesla, M.D., whom he can ask questions about her any time he chooses. But does my kid feel like he’s walking around half of a person or the shell of a person because he doesn’t interact or know his egg donor? No, not at all. Does that sound like a child who is missing his genetic parent? I don’t think so.

Personally, I feel strongly that how a child is conceived has nothing to do with how they are going to “turn out” or grow up as adults. It’s what happens after they are born.

So let me ask you Elizabeth, after reading all of this, and being a mother yourself, do you really think kids conceived via egg donation or embryo donation are going to miss their egg donor or, to take it a step further, their genetic parent?

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