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The Parents Via Egg Donation Organization: June 2013

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Pause And Thanks To Our PVED Sponsors

Parents via Egg Donation provides service to over 9000 intended parents and parents all over the globe

We can’t say it any simpler - the generosity of our sponsors makes our work possible. PVED is thankful and proud to count the clinics, agencies, law firms, and individuals below who financially support our organization.

Because of our sponsors help we are able to do things like send quilts, books and other literature to intended parents all over the globe. We are able to travel to major cities throughout the USA creating face to face PVED parent communities, provide complimentary mental health consultations for intended parents and parents via egg donation, hold educational workshops, conduct educational in-service sessions, maintain a very large all inclusive private forum as well as maintain the organization’s website, and much, much  more.

Pacific In Vitro Fertilization Institute – Dr. Carl Morton
Fertility Source Companies – Steve Masler
Gifted Journeys – Wendie Wilson-Miller
A Perfect Match – Darlene Pinkerton
The Law Offices of Amy Demma
The Center for Egg Options – Nancy Block
Oregon Reproductive Medicine – Dr. John Hesla and Dr. Brandon Bankowski
Embryo Donation International – Dr. Craig Sweet
San Diego Fertility Center – Dr. Michael Kettel and Dr. William Hummel
Conceivabilities - Nazca Fontes
The Law Offices of Catherine Tucker
Reproductive Partners – Dr. Greg Rosen and Dr. Bill Yee
The Surrogacy Law Center – Stephanie Caballero
Huntington Reproductive Center
Abby Grayson, LPC,
IVF New Jersey – Dr. Susan Treiser
Donor Network Alliance
Circle Surrogacy – John Weltman, Esq
Color Center for Reproductive Medicine – Dr. Bill Schoolcraft
IVF Traveler – Sue Taylor

To our sponsors we give great thanks and forever grateful.

If your company is interested in supporting the work of PVED or if you are interested in becoming an advertiser, please contact Marna Gatlin Founder and CEO at (503)987-1433 or marna@pved.org

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Calling all Intended Mothers - Production Company Needs Your Help Regarding Egg Donation

Hi folks this just in:

Hi intended parents!

My name is Shira and I work at 11th Street Productions in New York. We specialize in documentary-style television series and are working on a new show about surrogacy and egg donation.

This is a brand new show that is currently in development, therefore there is no name for the show quite yet.

We are looking for women who are in the midst of a cycle, pregnant or not, that would be willing to share their stories with us. Talking with us is not a commitment.

We are still researching the topic and just want to hear real stories. We are interested in talking to both intended mothers and known donors.

 We want to hear their experiences and educate people on this very sensitive topic. 

Please contact me with any questions at all! My number is (212) 624-5608 and my email is shirapiellcasting@gmail.com Thanks again for all your help!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Celebrity Infertility Secrets?

This blog post comes to us from the kind folks over at  Global IVF

Does She or Doesn’t She? (Only her fertility specialist know for sure)

When we look at celebrities like Elton John, Ricky Martin, or Neill Patrick Harris who have had children over the years it’s a no- brainer that they used an egg donor to create their families. But when we hear about female celebrities around the globe who have had children in their 40’s, we wonder – “Did she or didn’t she?” Society perceives that if you look young, your eggs are young.  However, the reality is when you are in your mid-forties and early fifties, your eggs aren’t going to work even though your body may very well carry a pregnancy to term and you may look great doing so. So why all the secrecy surrounding celebrities who may or may not have used egg donation or IVF treatment in general.  Is it ego?  Is it shame?  Is it because infertility treatment equates to being older which equates to being less marketable as far as Hollywood, Bollywood or the rest of the entertainment world is concerned?

Is IVF and egg donation the global entertainment world’s dirty little secret?  Now, we’re not saying that any of the following women used IVF or egg donor to have their children… in fact, most have not admitted reproductive help of any kind (although some did admit to at least IVF help – particularly the ones who used gestational carriers).  But take a look at the following list and draw your own conclusions:
  •  Geena Davis, an American actress, had her twins at 48.
  •  Jane Seymour, an English actress, had her twins at age 44.
  • Nicole Kidman, an Australian actress, was 43 when she had her daughter with the help of a gestational surrogate.
  • Cherie Blair, wife of England’s former Prime Minister gave birth at age 45.
  • Susan Sarandon, an American actress, had a baby at age 46.
  • Somali-born model Iman, married to rocker David Bowie, gave birth at 44.
  • Helen Fielding, an English novelist/screenwriter best known for her character Bridget Jones, gave birth at 48.
  • Arlene Phillips, an English choreographer, gave birth at age 47.
  • Holly Hunter, an American actress, had her twins at 47.
  • Cheryl Tiegs, a global icon in the world of modeling, had twins at age 52.
  • Marcia Gay Harden, an American actress, was age 45 when she gave birth to her twins.
  • Helena Bonham Carter, an English actress, had her baby at age 42.
  • Joan Lunden, an American television personality, went on to have two sets of twins at age 52 and 54 with the help of a gestational surrogate.
  • Elizabeth Edwards, the former wife of American presidential hopeful John Edwards, gave birth to her daughter at age 48 and her son at age 50.
  • Kelly Preston, an American actress and wife of John Travolta,  gave birth to a son at age 47
  • Halle Berry, an American actress, is currently pregnant and 46.
  • Mira Sorvino, an American actress, gave birth to her last child when she was 44.
  • Mariah Carey, musical superstar, gave birth to twins at age 42.
  • Beverly D’Angelo, an American actress, was 49 when her twins were born.
  • Sarah Jessica Parker, an American actress, had twins with the help of a gestational surrogate at age 44.
  • Nancy Grace, an American television personality, was 47 when she brought her twins into the world.
  • Farah Khan, a well known-prestigious Indian film director, gave birth to triplets at age 43.
Farah is one who admitted using IVF, she was quoted as saying: “When the choice is to either go childless or IVF, there is no room for doubts. I was 43 when I had my kids and my biological clock had stopped ticking long time ago.” However, she left the egg donation part out.  So did she?  Or didn’t she? Do you see a trend here? IVF equals shame for many women and that in itself is incredibly unfortunate. Pregnancy for most women is a rite of passage.  It’s something that we typically don’t think about until the time comes when we want to be pregnant and then it’s a really big deal.  It becomes an even bigger deal when you discover that you might be one of the many individuals in the world who might not ever conceive or give birth in your own lifetime – or if you happen to be one of the lucky ones who does it’s going to be after seeking a lot of help and spending a lot of money.
Relates story: Expiration Date Concerning Childbearing

When our bodies aren’t cooperating and doing something that we believed our whole lives we could or would do, it’s simply devastating.
The whole topic of infertility, IVF, egg donation – it’s just so socially taboo. It’s no wonder that regardless of who you are – public figure, celebrity, or the woman next door, it’s not the most favorite topic to talk about at a cocktail or dinner party. We don’t view infertility like we do breast cancer.  Infertility is still in that shameful place that breast cancer was many years ago until public women like Betty Ford brought it out into the forefront and made those of us afflicted with breast cancer into survivors and heroes – as well we should be. Until we change the mindset about infertility and embrace it like we do breast cancer, it’s always going to be that thing that no one wants to talk about. Now, celebrities may be different than the rest of us.  They may have more money.  They might be prettier, more privileged but guess what – they aren’t more fertile.  That’s a myth that has been perpetuated over the years because no one is talking about it. This means that regardless of how famous you might be, the most common cause of infertility in a woman who is in her middle forties is her age. And for a myriad of reasons, many women – not just celebrities wait too long to begin their family building – and after a certain point there’s not a thing you can do to make more eggs because our eggs have an expiration date. The reality is regardless of where you are in the world, AMH and FSH levels don’t lie.  By the time a woman is in her mid-forties, her fertility rate and percentage of success to conceive naturally is just about zero. Okay, okay we hear you – not every pregnant women who’s in her forties has undergone any sort of fertility.  However, be mindful they are the exception to the rule – like one in a million – for the rest of us in the world our reality is very different. Dr. Ric Porter, Director of IVF Australia was quoted as saying: “A pregnant actress in her forties gets a page in a magazine, but if those same magazines printed all the stories of all the women who couldn’t get pregnant, the magazines would be the size of the yellow pages. These celebrity ‘miracle pregnancies’ give women ridiculous expectations. I’m yet to see a patient who had viable eggs in her mid-forties. Even with IVF, we’ve never had a pregnancy after age 45.” It is what reproductive endocrinologists all over the world face every day on the front lines – explaining to women who are in their mid-forties the realities about their fertility, and giving them the sad news that for them to become a mother is to give up her genetics and seek the help of an egg donor.

Should celebrities make public service announcements about infertility much like celebrities make public service announcements about every other cause they are personally affected by?
Granted no woman is obliged nor should she ever be forced to share with the world how she conceived, regardless of whether she’s famous or not.  Infertility is incredibly hard, private and personal.  However, all of this miracle pregnancy mumbo jumbo that we see in all of the magazines, the internet, and television by celebrities has got to stop.  We aren’t doing ourselves any favors by drinking the fertility Kool-Aid and believing everything we read.  This is about protecting your own fertility by being informed and aware of the facts.  It’s also about protecting your self-esteem. Back in 2000 Larry King asked Cheryl Tiegs if she used an egg donor to conceive her twins and her reply was: “No, it’s my eggs and my husband’s sperm so they’re our babies. I’ve been taking care of myself for so long, I know my reproductive organs are much younger than I am.” This left me saying aloud “Really Cheryl, you’re 52, really?!” What’s even more interesting about the whole Cheryl Tiegs thing is when she and her husband divorced, Cheryl lost custody of her newborn twins to her husband. I know it made me stop and say “Hmm.” I wonder what the rest of the world thought. The message that’s pumped into the media is that for women like you and me who are looking into the fishbowl of “celebrityville” it can be incredibly misleading – it equates to false hope and being complacent about your reproductive health.
So why aren’t more famous women speaking out and being honest about their fertility or infertility issues?
Lauri Berger de Brito of the Agency for Surrogacy Solutions in Los Angeles says, “The presumption is that if you look young, your eggs are young.”  For men it’s like the old adage:  “Men are like fine wine they get better with age”.  Men can continue to manufacture sperm until they die – take a look at Tony Randall he was in his mid-80’s when he became a father.  However, in Hollywood, Bollywood, or wherever you are in the world, getting older does not go hand in hand with fertility – women are not perceived as getting better with age especially when it comes to their eggs.
But wouldn’t it be lovely if just one celebrity would come forward, be vulnerable and say: “I am a mother via egg donation and I am proud.”

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Monday, June 10, 2013

Parent Via Egg Donation Book Project Under Way!

You asked and we listened!

Parents Via Egg Donation will be offering a book for all intended parents who are looking to create or build their family through egg donation as well as parents who are already parents through egg donation.

We will offer the book in several different formats:

Hard Cover
Soft Cover

Because our book is a by the intended parent and or parent through egg donation for the intended parent or parent through egg donation we have a specific focus.

Our focus is to tell your stories -- telling your story is one of the best ways to empower, support and educate the world about egg donation and what it means individually to each person.

You can be anonymous.  You can be known.  We can make up a name for you. 

But we need your help.

If our organization as touched you, helped you, supported you, inspired you, educated you, or empowered you in any way and you would like to find a wonderful way to give back write to pvedbook@pved.org and in the subject simply write: PVED Book Project  and we will write back to you with all of the pertinent information.

Just think your words make help another intended parent make that the often scary leap to embarking upon one of the most life changing experiences we as parents may ever have.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Why Embryo Donation shouldn’t be called Adoption

by Sue Taylor **

Let me start out by saying that embryo donation is an amazing gift and a wonderful option for family building. And traditional legal adoption of a living child is equally amazing; it is a true gift to be selected to parent a child through adoption. However, the language that is used by some in the industry who have decided to call embryo donation by the term “embryo adoption” needs some deliberate attention and careful thought by industry professionals and society.

My opinion is that the term “embryo adoption” is primarily being used by organizations simply as a marketing gimmick primarily for financial gain. By making it “just like adoption” it is a way to appeal to broad groups of people wanting a child (who might not be considering assisted reproductive technologies for their own myriad reasons) and it allows the organizations (often religious) to promote this form of fertility treatment as having the added benefit of also being a good deed with a “save the frozen embryos from a freezer” appeal. Sometimes, they even add the “orphan” label, which I find terribly insulting.

For the sake of this conversation, I am not even going to broach the “life begins at fertilization – or implantation – or viability – or birth” issue that is often at the crux of the embryo adoption movement. Instead I am going to focus simply on the language being used.

In marketing embryo donation as a form of adoption, I think it minimizes or trivializes the feelings and experience of birth parents and “real” adoptees from a traditional, legal adoption (the ones who were living, breathing persons when they were legally adopted and their birth parents relinquished their rights).  Let me explain.  

What birth parents go through in making the difficult decision to place a child for adoption is not to be taken lightly. Unlike a person choosing to donate embryos (typically under no time pressure or duress of an impending birth), birth parents are making a very difficult decision under great pressure and stress about parenting or adoption - often agonizing at great lengths while the child is growing in their body or they have just given birth. I doubt that a birth mother would feel like she is "just like" the woman who chose to donate her embryos. I am not diminishing the angst that goes into making a choice to donate embryos - but it is generally done with deliberate intention and great joy in the opportunity to help someone else once your own family building pursuits are complete.  And that is a far different emotional situation than making an adoption plan for a child born or about to be born. In my experience, families choosing to donate embryos typically don’t experience the same type of angst and ongoing grief about their choice as many birth parents often do.  They are making a willing choice to donate.  They rejoice that they were able to share their own joy of parenting by donating embryos to help fulfill the dreams of another family. In contrast, despite the fact that birth parents may have confidence that the decision they made was the best thing for the child, it is typically a huge personal loss. And the circumstances that bring them to that loss-or even their confidence in their decision-doesn't diminish the fact that it typically has an emotionally charged lifelong impact.

And, what about the adoptees? As an adoptee myself, I think the term embryo adoption is dismissive of adoptees feelings and experiences.  Regardless of the circumstances of your adoption, there is a loss that is far different than simply a loss of genetics. Being separated at birth from the woman who created me, carried me in her body for 9 months, gave birth to me, and agonized over placing me for adoption does not in any way make me feel similar kinship to a child who was born through embryo donation. A child of embryo donation is carried by and born into to the family who will parent them (and with the benefit of epigenetics, the expression of genes influenced by the mother carrying the child).  Add that the child of embryo donation was very much wanted and longed for throughout the pregnancy and from long before the embryo was even received or transferred, and THAT is a very, very different scenario with little in common to adoption.

You just can’t compare that to the experience in utero of a baby growing in a woman who is oftentimes in a crisis pregnancy that may not have been planned or wanted (or may have tragic circumstances involved).  The woman who is agonizing over an adoption plan is in a highly charged emotional decision, under pressure and stress - forced to make a parenting choice where often none of the options are necessarily ideal.  Experts are mixed in their opinions of how much the fetus/baby is impacted by adoption – by the expectant mother’s stress and state of mind, and then being removed immediately after birth from the only human the baby has known. But, there is no question that there is a loss.  Surely we can agree it isn’t the ideal scenario of gestation and birth regardless of how amazing the adoptive family may be. I can tell you that I feel that my experience as an adoptee has very little in common with that of a child born of donated embryos. I think it is insulting to suggest otherwise, truth be told.

In my mind – the only similarity between embryo donation and adoption is that children are being parented by adults who don't share their DNA. Period – that is it! So, calling embryo donation a form of “adoption” is as if you are trivializing adoption down to it being only an issue of not sharing DNA with the parents raising you.  I can assure you that adoption is far more complex than that.

If we’re making comparisons, most everything else about embryo donation has far more in common with using donated gametes for reproduction via assisted reproduction. That might include double donor IVF or even egg or sperm donors - where one or both sets of DNA were donated. Again, in all of these scenarios, the child was very much wanted from before they were transferred into the uterus and the parent(s) were likely moving heaven and earth to be a parent, donated embryos are simply a means of how they got there. But that intention and desire to be parents from before pregnancy is far different from a crisis, unplanned pregnancy and I am not convinced that the baby doesn’t feel this difference.

Embryo donation is a medical procedure; it is not the adoption of a living person.  It is a chance for pregnancy where realistically, the odds of it not working are greater than the odds of it resulting in a live birth.  There is something wrong with equating or giving equal value (through our words) to a living, breathing child being placed for adoption and the donation of embryo that is more likely not to survive and grow.  Our US legal process is clear that a child can only be adopted (or have parental rights relinquished) after they are born. A donation of embryos is  a legal relinquishment of rights to embryonic tissue, not an adoption.  

I want to say specifically that I don’t take so much issue with families who elect to talk to their children about embryo donation using the language of adoption - how they want to present their family to the world is their business. I do hope that they are considering the language with great care and consideration though for the children’s sake.  I also have no judgment for anyone who chooses to go through an embryo adoption agency and the quasi-adoption process required by them as a way to get their embryos or as a way to donate their embryos.  I think however your embryos or children come to you is your business as long as it is done ethically. And however you decide to share the gift of embryos is also your business if you are donating.  My frustration is with industry professionals and these non-medical organizations who are exploiting the term adoption to create a new industry primarily for financial gain.

My opinion is that many are using the term “adoption” as a way for those agencies to make money off of families desperately wanting to be parents.  They charge agency fees, home study fees, fingerprinting fees, background checks, training/education fees, etc.  And often that money is paid all before they even qualify you to match you with embryos (that themselves statistically give them about a 25 - 40% chance of a live birth).  Realistically, adding an “adoption” component to embryo donation can easily double or triple the cost of embryo donation to the recipients.

And for those organizations trying to promote it as doing a good deed and “saving the embryos” or "save the orphan embryos" movement the reality is that in the US today, there isn’t an  excess or surplus of available frozen embryos already donated and waiting for families.  In most clinic based embryo donation programs or private matching services, there can be months long waiting lists for embryos - people truly wait years for the chance of receiving donated embryos. Perhaps in trying to create an “embryo adoption” industry that allows them to add middle man and third party costs that are, in my opinion, unnecessary, the organizations advertising this have created even more demand for embryos that are in short supply. 

I think the ASRM was spot on when it gave the opinion that embryo donation is a medical procedure, it is NOT adoption. Here is what their report said:

“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. The donation of embryos for reproductive purposes is fundamentally a medical procedure intended to result in pregnancy and should be treated as such.”

For these reasons, I prefer that we use language for this new form of family building (involving donation of embryos) that doesn't imply that this is "just like an adoption".

Maybe embryo donation isn't the right language.  Interestingly enough, the primary synonym to ‘donation’ is ‘gift’.  And some families who have been created through embryo donation choose to use the term “gifted embryos”.  I think that beautifully conveys the feeling of gratitude and appreciation that recipients feel toward the donating families.  Perhaps that is a term for the community to consider when pondering this issue.   I am hopeful that the industry professionals and our society can thoughtfully come together to develop positive language that is respectful of others and celebrates the uniqueness of the beautiful thing that is embryo donation.
**Sue Taylor is an experienced IVF consultant with a passion for helping others on their journey to parenthood. With over 27 years experience in the healthcare industry, she now assists patients with selecting a clinic, or going abroad for more affordable IVF and donor egg IVF treatments. Ms. Taylor can provide assistance for prospective patients deciding if IVF treatment abroad is a good choice for them, assist with clinic selection, and has provided full facilitation services (including cycle & travel coordination). She has assisted hundreds of donor IVF patients seeking treatment abroad. Her blog, www.ivftraveler.com/blog, offers practical details for patients traveling for IVF services or an IVF vacation. Sue Taylor can be reached at sue@ivftraveler.com.