James has a daughter by egg donation. For Father’s Day, he talks about what the donation means to him and his family.
My partner and I met about ten years ago, and we decided we wanted to start a family. We had a beautiful little girl in 2009. She’s got special needs, and we were told that, if we wanted to conceive together, the chance of our next child being born with the same condition was 1 in 4. We thought it through long and hard and decided that we didn’t want to take that risk.
So we explored other avenues and chose assisted conception. We always thought we’d like two more kids, one each with our sperm and eggs, so decided to use sperm donation first, as my partner’s slightly older than me and we wanted to use her eggs at their freshest!. That gave us a second beautiful daughter who was born in 2011. Then we completed our ‘patchwork family’ as we call it with another baby girl conceived via egg donation who was born this year.
Egg donation is an invasive procedure, so you’ve got to really want to do it. Donors don’t get many financial or other rewards from this, other than helping families. It felt nice that there was this person offering to share their dreams with you, and help you create another life; and they had an approach to life which was very altruistic.
We also looked for a donor whose physical appearance was similar to ours. There were going to be enough differences for this child to potentially focus on so we wanted to make sure we were giving them the best chance of fitting in in other ways.
Everybody tells you you can’t describe what it’s like to be a dad until you’ve had kids and I think they’re right. It’s really difficult to put it into words. It adds something to your life that you didn’t realise was missing before. With that comes a lot of extra responsibilities and stress, but also a lot of joy – an extra way of being happy.
The benefits far outweigh the sleep loss and the stressful situations. Like when you’re putting them to bed and are cuddling up reading them a story and rather than just wanting to get it out of the way, you’re secretly hoping they will ask for another one because you’re enjoying it so much.
Once you hold this little bundle in your arms it’s really not a consideration as to where the chromosomes came from. I’ve become – I don’t want to say blasé about it because it makes it sound like it’s not a big thing and it is – but it just doesn’t really affect me at all on a day to day basis. In fact I have to remind myself that the physical traits I occasionally think my middle child has picked up from me can’t have come from my genes at all.
Then there’s the fact that our youngest two children have been made with the love of three people each because they’ve got us two who wanted to conceive them, and then the donor, and there’s a lot of love in that. That’s a really sweet thing to think of, and that’s certainly a message we will be sharing with them when the time comes to start discussing where they came from.
Our donor probably doesn’t understand on a day-to-day basis just how much how she’s helped us. It’s lovely to see the impact of her generosity. My middle daughter gets so much pleasure out of the new arrival; it’s given her an avenue for loving another little person. And we have this fabulous little family thanks to the donor’s generosity. ‘Thanks’ doesn’t really cover it but we’re very grateful indeed, very grateful for lots of little things every single day.