One of my roles at work is to educate intended parents about the consequences of using donor egg or sperm as a way to build their families. In addition to talking about the intended parents’ feelings about using a donor, I also attempt to bring in the voice of the child that would be created from such an arrangement.
The fertility clinics that refer intended parents to me for these educational sessions are adhering to some ethical guidelines set forth by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Unfortunately, not everyone involved in the fertility “industry” is bound by ethical guidelines. As a licensed healthcare professional used to considering ethics and the best interests of my patients, it is honestly shocking and repulsive to see some agencies marketing egg and sperm donors like any other product. It can feel very Brave New World at times.
The New York Times recently published an op-ed about a new study on children of sperm donors: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/31/opinion/31douthat.html. (Here’s a link to the study if you’re interested in more detail: http://familyscholars.org/my-daddys-name-is-donor-2.)
The essence of the editorial is that those who work with third party reproduction services need to do so in a responsible manner. We need to acknowledge that real children are created from egg and sperm donations. These children will have needs, opinions, and feelings about what has taken place and their humanity must be acknowledged.
We cannot pretend that the choice to create a family via egg or sperm donation does not carry any additional parenting responsibilities. In the same way that an adoptive parent must help their child come to a positive understanding of adoption, children conceived using gamete donation also need their parents to be active in helping them comprehend their genetic origins.