Michelle explains how being adopted helps her understand how her child might feel about the egg donor.
I met my partner 20 years ago when my son was very young and he’s always been there while my son was growing up. We wanted to have children together but it wasn’t that simple – in the end we went to Guy’s Hospital for IVF and had our daughter, who’s now two. We’ve had quite a number of tries for a second child since she’s been born but as I’m now in my 40s my egg quality has gone dramatically down, so we’ve thought about egg donation.
We’re both keen to do it but thought we’d take our time and go through the counselling. I’m in quite a good position, being adopted and knowing what it would feel like in a way, so I could probably understand a donor-conceived child more than someone who hasn’t been adopted.
I came into my family when I was 15 months old, so I was very young. It was unusual because my mum and dad weren’t looking to adopt – they had two daughters already and a son, and they were also pregnant with my sister. Then a family friend told them about his brother and girlfriend who had a baby they were going to give up. My natural mum was only 16 and my dad was 17 and he had to work and she couldn’t cope on her own, I think she was just too young. And my mum said, We’ll have her. My dad was obviously a bit apprehensive because they had three already and one on the way, but my mum couldn’t stand the thought of anyone going into care.
They literally went round and took me home. Unbelievable! And obviously they had to go through the process of adopting me and they went to court and everything was fine. As you can imagine I’ve got amazing parents, to randomly take someone on like that.
I grew up knowing I was adopted – they always told me, which I think is the better way, because you don’t have this big shock when you’re an adult. People I’ve spoken to who have had that experience as adults have said to me that it’s really hard to adjust and they felt as if they weren’t part of the family, but I’ve never experienced that because I’ve always felt this is my family.
I did meet my natural mum and my natural father and their children and it just wasn’t the same. There was no connection. It’s who you grow up with, who you share everything with, the memories, everything that makes you who you are. So I think it’s much better to grow up knowing. My mum used to say to me, You’re special, even though I didn’t carry you, I felt that I did. I was always really loved. So maybe I just had exceptional parents, maybe I was just very lucky, not everybody has the same experience maybe. You hear lots of different stories, some good, some bad, but for me, it was amazing.
I traced my natural mum because I wanted to meet her. It wasn’t because I needed a mum, I suppose I just had that curiosity. I wasn’t angry that I was given up for adoption, to be honest I’ve always felt that I had the better deal in a way, I was lucky that I had someone to adopt me. She was a bit scared of meeting me and thinking she didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t see it as a way for her to get rid of me, but as the best thing for me at the time and the best thing for her as well because she couldn’t manage.
It’s probably not the thing that my mum wanted me to do. Maybe she felt felt a little bit rejected but I think it was more that she didn’t want me to be hurt. Even if you do have a good upbringing you might still have that feeling of wanting to know, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you want to have a relationship with someone.
If we’re lucky enough to get pregnant from egg donation it won’t be my egg, not that that will make any difference to me, because I’ll still be a mum to a potential child. But it would be better for a child to grow up knowing. There’s books that you can use to explain things. It’s not exactly the same as adoption but I think my experience will help. If in later years they wanted to try to find the egg donor, I can understand they might have the same sort of feelings I had when I wanted to find out who my natural mother was.
Getting pregnant isn’t going to be plain sailing. It’s so many little steps to go through and you’ve just got to cross each step as you go and hopefully at the end we’ll get a good result. But there’s no guarantees, you just have to hope. Nobody knows if egg donation will work, I’m just hoping we find a donor so we can try.