Perhaps one day, when our children are grown, we might get to meet – whatever happens, you will always have my love
A while ago I went through an IVF cycle to donate my eggs to you, a couple in your 30s I didn’t know. Why? Because, at 35, it was now or never for me. Because a generous sperm donor had given us our family, and I felt a duty to pay it forward. It was about integrity, gratitude and doing the right thing.
I felt enormous responsibility for it to work. I wasn’t going through all the injected medication, diary rescheduling, overstimulated ovaries and endless driving back and forth to the fertility clinic for you not to get pregnant. I held your dreams in my hands and I couldn’t bear to let you down. Then the fertility clinic counsellor told me that wasn’t the point. I wasn’t giving you a baby, I was giving you a chance, and that was my gift whether it worked or not. And, as I relaxed about the whole thing, I realised the gift I was making was not just of my eggs; it was a gift of hope, of humanity, of love. That may sound weird and probably pretty corny. We’ve never met. I don’t know who you are. But a gift of love doesn’t just evaporate, it lasts.
I used to think that donation was dispassionate – something selfless you did and then put behind you. But that isn’t how it feels. Of course, if you donate your eggs or your sperm or if you lend the use of your womb, you need to ‘get’ that this isn’t your child – no one wants those kinds of strings attached. But beyond that, donation isn’t something trivial just given away and forgotten, a use for otherwise wasted cells. There is now a connection between your family and mine. It’s a curiously wonderful thing, like something precious hidden in a bottom drawer.
I want you to know that I think of you – and the little boy I know you had – and that you have nothing to fear from that. I wonder if your son resembles my children and if they would get on. I hope, as far as DNA matters, that your boy inherited the best of me – my memory but not my lack of athletic ability, my good hair but not my bad skin. I know he will have absorbed far more of the best of you. Do you ever think of me? Do you imagine what I look like or think about my kids, who are sort of your son’s siblings but also not at all? I don’t want you to feel indebted to me, or to think of me as some perfect angel.
I hope that you have felt confident enough to tell your son that I was part of his story. I hope it makes him feel special, knowing that he was so wanted that we collaborated to bring him into the world. I hope it helps him value kindness and gives him faith in human nature. You have helped me teach my own kids the importance of helping someone else just because you can. But most of all I hope there are no secrets so that, if one day he comes to find me, he does so from a place of curiosity and interest, and not hurt and loss. In an age where genetic heritage is searchable online, secrets don’t stay buried, so I hope his truth has been shared with love and there is no risk he will stumble on it alone with his fingertips at a computer. If you haven’t told him yet, be brave. As a parent of donor-conceived teenagers myself I know there is nothing to be ashamed of, nothing to fear. He’ll feel comfortable if you tell it comfortably.
Perhaps one day, when our children are grown, we might get to meet. I hope your son will feel able to reach out to us if he wants to – my family is here for him, and for you. I am interested to see how our curious connection might enrich our lives in new ways. But if he never chooses to find us, that’s cool too. Donating has been such a positive thing in my life, and I have no expectations.
Whatever happens, you will always have my love.
Your donor x