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The Parents Via Egg Donation Organization: December 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Teen Talks About Being A Child Via Egg Donation

This is outstanding! And Amazing! This made me very happy to see this!

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Is It Really Donation?

An email appeared in my email box about an "Embryo Donation Center" -- and I was initially excited about that -- "Finally, a place where parents to be can receive donated embryos and pay reasonable and appropriate costs associated with actual embryo donation. You know storage fee's, a legal contract, the actual transfer, etc.."

As I began to read this email I shook my head ever so slightly as I wasn't quite getting what this "center" was saying.

They state that based on current law US law adoption only refers to the placement of a child after birth. Therefore, instead of using adoption laws, legal agreements are used to govern the process of embryo donation. The recipient parents' relationship with the child is just as binding as a legal adoption.

I liked this -- very much. It's the same kind of language clinics use when a couple completed an egg donor cycle.

And then I read their fee schedule - and began to read further which is where I became really confused. I decided to research other "Embryo Donation Centers" as well as "Embryo Adoption" agencies and was horrified to find out that most places require you to be married -- and one person as to be a wife and one person has to be a husband. Same sex couples aren't even mentioned. (That really bothered me). Most couples have to be married at least three years. The woman has to be no older than 45. The woman has to agree not to smoke during the process, during the embryo tranfer, or the pregnancy. (What are they doing to do? Reach in and take the baby away? While I am all for not smoking especially during pregnancy I am not sure if they could legally make this stick). Oh -- and those who don't have any biological or genetic children get first crack, your ages together can't be more than 100, and at least one of you needs to be a US Citizen.

Last but not least you have to pass a home study. Now isn't a home study reserved for adoption? And if you are an embryo donation center are you really contradicting yourself?

So what I want to know is -- is it really donating an embryo when a center is treating a recipient couple like an adoptive couple. And how can adoptive couple adopt something that may or may not be born. What happens after a transfer and a couple has spent 6-8k for this process and it doesn't work. They don't get their money back -- are they encouraged to come back and spend another 6-8k to try to "adopt" again?

This is the kind of stuff that keeps me up nights and makes me say "Hmmmmm:

Someone enlighten me?

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

Anonymous Egg Donation, Semi Known Egg Donation, Known Egg Donation

I have been reading with great interest about those of who are meeting their egg donors. And I applaud them for that because that’s the best choice for them and their family. After much thought and reflection my feelings about all of this are pretty simple – (and please realize this is just coming from the perspective of a mother who already has child via this process and who is clearly deeply established and rooted as a mother. I am not a therapist, psychologist, or a psychiatrist, nor do I pretend to ever be one – this is from a lay perspective.) Clearly when we embark upon egg donation as a way to create or grow our families, it’s not something we just decided upon on the spur of the moment. We as women have either known for a very long time that we will never have children without help, or a diagnosis was thrust upon us as we were trying to have a child – regardless of how we learned that egg donation was the path that we needed to take to become parents it took some time to sink and become a reality. The feelings that we feel are individual. I felt initially shame like I did something to cause it. Was it my lifestyle as a 20 something ( I partied a lot ), was it my secret vendetta against my ex-boyfriends mother who I hated, had I pissed God off, exposed myself to chemicals unknowingly, the list goes on and on. When I learned about egg donation I really thought it was something science fiction like out of star trek – I thought it was weird and wonderful and scary. However, along with all of this came grief.

The grief that each of us experiences is incredibly individual. Some women grieve long and hard, while others don’t seem to grieve much at all. Grief comes in spurts at the weirdest time for some, and sadly for others even after their children are born "it’s constantly in the forefront as a reminder of how their body failed them" (direct quote from a mom).

My point is that this process is individual for each and every family. There are lots of dynamics involved, lots of feelings involved, and lots of stuff involved. There’s no right way or wrong way to feel about any of it. If someone had said to me back in 1999 you will meet your egg donor first, have a meal with her, and you two will get to know one another -- I would have said “Oh Hell No”. I was scared, and insecure. I was angry. Angry my body didn’t work like it was supposed to, scared of the process, scared that I was spending 25k back then and it wouldn’t work, scared that I wouldn’t be a good mother, insecure that my husband would like the egg donor more than me (let’s face it her genetics were helping create a baby, and I didn’t understand back then how much my contribution would be), and I didn’t want the egg donors face to take up my head space. And so when my clinic said we do anonymous egg donation I didn’t question it. And any communication I had with my egg donor through my cycle was monitored by the clinic.

When you embark upon an egg donation cycle regardless of whether it’s anonymous donation, or semi anonymous donation, or known egg donation those choices have to be based on what is good for you and your family. I don’t want anyone to feel like they have harmed their children, or wrecked their children because they chose anonymous egg donation. We clearly know that’s not the case. Those women who have had children via egg donation 15-20 years ago who didn’t have a choice and had to go through an anonymous egg donation cycle have perfectly fine, healthy, well adjusted and amazing kids who are now perfectly fine, healthy, well adjusted adults who are amazing members of society. It all goes back to the parenting – not how your kid got here.

For some women like me we didn’t have a choice when we went through our egg donation cycle. We saw a baby picture that I had to beg for, I had to trust what I read on the egg donor profile and I picked my RE’s brain incessantly about what she was like as I trusted him and his choices for me. In the end I had this incredible little boy that was meant to come to me. Would I change things now if I had the opportunity? Yes, but really only selfishly for me. (I petitioned my clinic for contact and they denied me and I understand why) Anyhow, I would like to wrap my arms around her and hug the stuffing out of her and thank her from the bottom of my heart. Meeting her or not meeting her doesn’t change my mothering capabilities or how I interact with my son. I am my child’s mother through and through not our egg donor. Our egg donor will always have a very special place in my heart and who I have a boatload of gratitude for but her job ended the day of retrieval. She didn’t sign on to have a relationship with Nick or be an extended member of our family. And my kid knows his story. He’s not walking around pining for his egg donor, nor does he feel ripped off because he doesn’t know who she is.

Other families choose anonymous egg donation purposely and that’s okay they shouldn't be judged because it was the right thing for them to do for their family. And there are those who choose semi known egg donation, or known donation where you meet your egg donor – and that’s fantastic if that’s clearly what you are comfortable with and what’s good for you and your family.

Regardless of where you are in regards to anonymous, semi known or known egg donation you have to be with a clinic or an agency that honors your wishes. You can’t be going to a clinic or agency that doesn’t offer or support open egg donation if that’s really what you want. And at the end of the day after your child is born PVED states that there is no question of whether or not the children will be "yours". It is strongly encouraged to give your child(ren ) what all children deserve--knowledge of who they are and where they came from, from a genetic perspective. It’s their right to know their origins. As one of the many DE mom’s on our list who is also a damn fine therapist said – “Your conversations with your children will be informed by your openness and willingness to embrace your child's curiosity, as well as your availability to assist them in finding whatever information they may want if they want it.”

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Friday, December 4, 2009

Defining Embryo Donation: ASRM Ethics Committee Report 2009

"Embryos are deserving of special respect, but they are not afforded the same status as persons." - ASRM Ethics Committee 2009


American Society for Reproductive Medicine: defining
embryo donationThe Ethics Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine American Society for Reproductive Medicine, Birmingham, Alabama

Building families through adoption of children has been supported by human society throughout history. Buildingfamilies through reproductive donation of surplus embryos, in contrast, has become an option only since the dawn of assisted reproductive technologies. The ethical appropriateness of patients donating embryos to other patients for family building, or for research, including stem cell research, is well established and has been affirmed by this body and many others. (Fertil Steril_ 2009;92:1818–9. _2009 by American Society for Reproductive Medicine.)

Two family-building options that provide children who are typically genetically unrelated to the individuals raising them involve: 1) the use of donated embryos; and 2) the adoption of living children. Donation of embryos to support the family-building efforts of others is an important option for patients considering the disposition of cryopreserved embryos in excess of those needed to meet the patients’ own fertility goals.

Embryos are deserving of special respect, but they are not afforded the same status as persons.

Adoption refers to a specific legal procedure that establishes or transfers parentage of existing children.

Application of the term ‘‘adoption’’ to embryos is inaccurate, misleading, and could place burdens that are not appropriate for embryos that have been donated upon infertile recipients.

Building families through adoption of children has been supported by human society throughout history. Building families through reproductive donation of surplus embryos, in contrast, has become an option only since the dawn of assisted reproductive technologies. The ethical appropriateness of patients donating embryos to other patients for family building, or for research, including stem cell research, is well established and has been affirmed by this body and many others (1, 2). Some groups have used the term ‘‘adoption’’
to describe the process by which infertile patients acquire embryos from others for their own family-building needs. Such groups are now seeking to establish the legitimacy of embryo ‘‘adoption’’ as a process. We find that this language is deceptive, because it reinforces a conceptualization of the embryo as a fully entitled legal being and thus leads to a series of procedures that are not appropriate, based on the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) Ethics Committee’s consideration of the embryo’s status.

In previous reports, this Committee has made clear its view that embryos should be accorded an elevated moral status compared with other human tissues, but that they should not be viewed as persons (3–5). Indeed, many of the publications of this Committee refer as a starting point to this description of the embryo first published in 1986: ‘‘The (pre)embryo is due greater respect than other human tissue because of its potential to become a person and because of its symbolic meaning for many people. Yet, it should not be treated as a person, because it has not yet developed the features of personhood, it is not yet established as developmentally individual, and it may never realize its biologic potential’’ (6).

The use of donated embryos for family building is an established successful therapeutic option for the infertile. Like gamete donation, it has resulted in the birth of many children in the more than 25 years the procedure has been in use. The use of donated embryos can provide patients in need a way to conceive that can be less complex and less expensive than gamete donation. It can also provide the donating patients with a sense of fulfillment as their donation helps other patients build a family.

Embryo donation for family building is recognized and regulated by government agencies in the United States and other countries (7, 8). In the United Kingdom, the process falls under the comprehensive system of regulation of all aspects of assisted reproductive procedures. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration oversees the process through comprehensive regulations that apply to all donated human tissues, reproductive and nonreproductive alike.

Adoption of existing children is another important option available to help infertile men and women build their families, also providing loving homes to children who need them.

Government plays a considerably more extensive role in the adoption of existing children than in embryo donation for family building. In 21st-century America, adoption is a specific legal procedure, and the term has a very specific legal meaning: ‘‘adoption, n. 1. The creation of a parent-child relationship by judicial order between two parties who usually are unrelated; the relation of parent and child created by law between persons who are not in fact parent and child. This relationship is brought about only after a determination that the child is an orphan or has been abandoned, or that the parents’ parental rights have been terminated
by court order’’ (9).

Every state in the United States has an adoption statute, and they all deal with changing or establishing parentage of an existing child. The legal term ‘‘adoption’’ can not and does not apply to embryos, which hold the potential for life but are not persons.

In fact, Black’s Law Dictionary explicitly defines ‘‘embryo adoption’’
as slang: ‘‘embryo adoption. Slang. The receipt of a frozen embryo that is implanted into a recipient’s womb. Donors must waive all parental rights before the recipients of the embryo assume legal ownership or custody. The process is not consideredto be a legal adoption, because American law does not treat embryos as children’’ (9).

The use of slang can sometimes be harmless; in this instance it is not. Equating an embryo with an existing child and applying the procedural requirements of adoption designed to protect existing children to embryos is not ethically justifiable and has the potential for harm. First, the ethical directive to protect an existing child is not applicable to human embryos, which are not persons. Second, the procedures would place unwarranted burdens on the recipient patient. Home visits, legal fees, and judicial review are all important
components of adoption. There is no justification for applying these components to infertility patients who already face burdensome medical procedures in the pursuit of their fertility goals.

‘‘Embryo adoption’’ agencies seek to recast the experience of embryo donation in terms of an ‘‘adoption’’ and impose requirements simulating those of legal adoption. In many cases, these requirements entail payment of substantial fees to the agencies by patients who need donated embryos to build their families.

Requiring infertile patients who need donor gametes or patients who need donor embryos to suffer the imposition of unnecessary administrative and legal trappings of adoption and the costs that accompany them is not ethically justifiable. Indeed, writing in 1994, this Committee argued that the experience of embryo donation ‘‘more closely approximates normal human reproduction than it does traditional legal adoption’’ (3). Fifteen years later, that statement remains correct. The donation of embryos for reproductive
purposes is fundamentally a medical procedure intended to result in pregnancy and should be treated as such.

The Practice Committee of the ASRM has developed guidelines for embryo donation that address medical screening, psychological counseling, informed consent, and the transfer of rights over the embryos
from donor to recipient. These guidelines, like corresponding guidelines for the donation of eggs and sperm, provide a framework for safe and ethical treatment of donors and patients requiring
donated embryos for their treatment.

1. National Institutes of Health. Report of the Human
Embryo Research Panel. Bethesda, MD: National
Institutes of Health, 1994.
2. New York State Task Force on Life and the Law. Assisted
reproductive technologies, analysis and recommendations
for public policy. New York: New York State,
3. Ethics Committee of theAmerican Fertility Society. The
donation of preembryos. Fertil Steril 1986;46:29S–31S.
4. Practice Committee of the American Society for
Reproductive Medicine. 2006 Guidelines for
gamete and embryo donation. Fertil Steril
5. Ethics Committee of the American Society for Reproductive
Medicine. Disposition of abandoned embryos.
Fertil Steril 2004;81:S253.
6. Ethics Committee of the American Society for Reproductive
Medicine. The moral and legal status of the
preembryo. Fertil Steril 1994;62:32S–4S.
7. Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. Code
of practice. London: Human Fertilisation and Embryology
Authority. Available at, http://cop.hfea.gov.uk/
cop/pdf/CodeOfPracticeVR_4.pdf; 2007. Accessed
September 8, 2009.
8. United States Food and Drug Administration. 21 CFR
parts 210, 211, 820, 1271. Eligibility determination
for donors of human cells, tissues, and cellular and
tissue-based products; final rule and notice. Available
at: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?
Last accessed September 8, 2009.
9. Black’s Law Dictionary. 9th ed. Westlaw, Eagen, MN,

Acknowledgments: This report was developed by the Ethics Committee of the
American Society for Reproductive Medicine as a service to its members and
other practicing clinicians. Although this document reflects the views of
members of that Committee, it is not intended to be the only approved standard
of practice or to dictate an exclusive course of treatment in all cases.
This report was approved by the Ethics Committee of the American Society
for Reproductive Medicine and the Board of Directors of the AmericanSociety for Reproductive Medicine

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