no. 578 – Cabbage Leaves or Stork?

During our NT scan on Friday, somehow the topic of telling Murdock of his/her beginnings came up. With nary a break, the tech said, “There’s no need to tell him anything except that he was a product of IVF. If you tell him about being from an anonymous donor egg, he will question everything about him from the past and will question everything you ever tell him in the future. It would ruin his life.”

So many things about her statement rattled me.

  • That she even thought she had the right to voice her opinion about something so deeply personal to an expectant couple, much less patients of the clinic, blew my mind.

Maybe she based it on her own personal experience? I can assure she did not as she later told us (after we tried to diffuse the tension by pointing out her choice of male pronouns) that she had two boys and that there were no fertility challenges in her past.

  • Her adamant opinion only confirmed in us both that this is not something we will hide from Murdock. However, Mr. DD and I are at odds when. He said it should be while h/she is well into his/her teens. I say it should be during young adolescence.

The professionals really have nothing definitive about this (see Q&A at bottom of second link – worth reading if you use donor), but just some sensible guidelines. XBoy’s mental maturity has not warranted the beginnings of a sex talk with him, and he’s six. He knows that babies grown inside Mommies, but he’s never asked how they get in there. I’m sure it will come up when we finally tell him about Murdock, and no matter how long we dwell on the information, it will not make it any easier.

  • If there was regret over using donor egg, it is the fact that our donor was anonymous. That is just the clinic’s overall policy.

While we certainly could have made a radical change by switching clinics for a very last cycle to one that offered both open and anonymous egg donors, that option had so many downsides, one of which at the very least would have meant me taking a leave of absence from my job and moving to another city for at least three weeks, we couldn’t have fiscally or emotionally handled such a drastic change.

But you may ask, wouldn’t any sacrifice now (or then) had been worth knowing the donor to avoid future conflicts?

We believe we have sacrificed and sacrificed and maybe in the back of our heads we never believed this last cycle was going to work, so the thought of another sacrifice to an uncaring and deaf Infertility Goddess was moot.

I know that we will face some challenges in the future. One of them will not be us trying to hide the fact we may a child born via a donor from either of our children. If we wanted to keep it a secret from Murdock, we would have requested same blood types; we would have demanded similar physical features.

We can only repeat the mantra that comes from families of donor resources and that is it is the child’s story to tell. How or when we tell that child? I just know it won’t be the way the clinic’s tech “suggested”. That’s our business and our business alone.

25 thoughts on “no. 578 – Cabbage Leaves or Stork?”

  1. That tech needs to just GO.

    I’m also of the tell as you go method. I think there are several children’s books and likely will be many more before you need them. I’ve had half a mind to write one myself (but I only have have a mind so not sure that’s good).

    As for anonymous donation, there is a registry and I have a feeling everything will open up much more in the coming years.

  2. I will add myself to those who are floored . . .
    A) that the tech felt she had the right to give an opinion
    B) that said opinion goes against popular current thingking anyway
    C) that she thinks it’s her damn business (see A)

    There is no shame in your choice, therefore no need for secrecy.

  3. We’ve emailed about this a bit, and I’m always hesitant to write publicly online about my feelings on it, but I figure you know I have a little more experience than that tech.

    DD, tell early, very early before your child knows what it means. Tell it in an age appropriate way, but know that if you wait as long as you or Mr.DD want to, it will be a big shock, and even if they never let it show to you, it will cause a huge emotional rift. Telling early, long before they can read about this stuff online, or talk to their friends, or figure it out themselves in biology class, is best. Make it just another part of their lives, like it’s no big deal and it will be no big deal. Make it a big “talk”, or worse lie about even one detail, and your child will not thank you. They may never trust you again.

    And I can’t believe that clinic told you that by matching blood types and features the kid would never know. They study genes in elementary school these days. They know how blue eyes and hair color are passed on through families in Grade 2 at my kid’s school. I mean, you can buy DNA paternity and maternity family tree kits at Best Buy for $50. A real test that needs only a cheekswab is nothing, dead cheap. You can buy them over the counter at pharmacies in 6 states for cash.

    Our children are smarter than we think. That tech is fool. I seriously pity her kids.

  4. I have had this page open in my browser for a day now, not quite knowing how to type what I think. So here goes nothing – I am a passionate believer that you should tell the child as you go along – the drip drip drip that DG mentions. A big sit down telling at whatever age is likely to generate a real sense of betrayal in the child, it will be a horrible shock. As opposed to being something that they learn about, which is always part of their story when they ask you where they came from. Of course in the end you have to do what’s right, I’d love to know more about why you feel the way you do.

  5. …” a product of IVF” Does that tech really think that’s enough to tell a child. What about when that child is a teenager or an adult? And what made her think it was any of her business?

  6. I agree with the others in saying something to office management or your doctor. Her comments were inappropriate, no of her damn business and just plain wrong.

    I have no idea when we’ll tell our kids about IVF. I just want to make sure it’s before someone else does. Our family and friends know, but I’m more worried about strangers who just assume because we have triplets we had help. Yeah they are right in our case, but people say the dumbest shit. Luckily right now the munchkins are too young to understand, but I worry that in the future they will somewhat comprehend the comments of stupid strangers.

  7. First of all Congrats! I have been away for a while and I was glad to hear your news. Good luck and wishing you the best. Second that tech should get a slap! It’s none of her business

  8. I also think she needs to be reported. Please consider it.

    Also, FWIW, we have told our son bits and pieces even though he’s not quite seven. He doesn’t really know what it means, but we’re trying to build it in as age-appropriate so its not a big shock later.

  9. I hope you gave her a piece of your mind for that little nugget of assvice.

    If it were me, and I know it’s not, I wouldn’t tell until he or she was an adult and making health care decisions away from you. At that point they need to be aware that there may be genetic factors that you simply can’t tell him. To my mind, that’s the only reason it would ever matter. I know others may disagree but biology doesn’t a family make.

  10. Wow. That is not something I had even thought of with donors, etc.

    I think you should go with your instincts. Give Murdock as much info as you think s/he wants and can handle for her/his age.

  11. ?????? I can’t believe anyone would think, after all you’ve been through, that you haven’t thought about these things. Why do fertiles always seem to think they know best? Is it because they think they have more experience with all things child-related?

    I am certain that when the time comes you and Mr DD will know what is best for your family.

  12. I can’t speak to donor but I can to adoption which in some ways is probably similar. When S1 was very little we just explained it that some moms and dads needed help making babies/families and that those babies were wanted so much that the moms and dads would do anything to make that happen. Sometimes doctors help, sometimes other moms tummies were used..but in the end it all made us a family. Just my 2 cents.

  13. I think you’ll just have to follow your instincts and you will know when the time is right to tell Murdock. As for the anonymous donor situation, well, you never know what can happen. There is a donor sibling registry that allows for people to find related siblings from donor gametes which donors, if they are interested in having some contact, can also register with. So, even though your donor is anonymous now, I think it’s possible to have something more than that down the road if that’s what you all want.

  14. i can’t speak to this, but of course i will anyway. it doesn’t make sense to me that you wouldn’t tell the kid, because families being what they are, s/he will find out some day and then all hell will break loose. won’t that be fun?

    and what is she thinking? as soon as you say (i can hear the formality in her icy tone) “you are the product of ivf” the kid is going to want to know what kind of product. if she’s sassy, she might ask if she’s a waste product. but more likely, that statement alone will open up all the doors and windows possible to open onto the conversation. cripes. easier to tell the truth, even if in drips drips drips.

    and i agree, her sons are already screwed. obviously so is she.

    congrats on the otherwise good visit. and nice numbers!

  15. Can I barge in with an opinion?

    Think about the point when you tell your DS the facts about his origins let’s say it’s when he’s 6. Let’s say you tell him he came from a little bit of daddy and a little bit of mummy… he may or may not enquire about the practicalities.

    Now let’s think ahead to the same conversation with Murdock. S/he’s 3,4,5,6 … do you say s/he came from a little bit of each of you? Or do you get a bit closer to the truth? Wouldn’t it be easier to start “drip, drip, drip”..?


  16. No way – she said that?

    This is one part of your story that I can relate to – people always seem to have an opinion about how we should handle our child’s adoption and it infuriates me. There is much expert advice on that topic but I have determined that each family needs to consider all the alternatives and decide what reveal they will best be able to parent with a consideration for the child. The only thing you don’t want is for it to come up before you are ready and not on your terms, ie. at a dr. office if medical info is needed, but Mr. DD is related biologically so that may not even happen…you do know some history.

    I found myself going against my own stated opinion above though when I heard myself critisize a couple for not telling two of their three daughters that they have the same guatemalen birth mother. I know what I would do, but they know more, like the personality of the other child and the family dynamics. I am not justifying the tech’s response – it was definitely not her place as a medical professional, but merely pointing out that I say stuff that I think is with a grain of salt that I hope someone does not take offense to.

    Ah, isn’t it fun to create a family in a way that involves others? Once you let one in everyonme thinks they know it all and have the right to let you know how you should do it.

  17. My parents and my sister didn’t have any problems having kids. I say this because I was always told growing up that I was ordered from a Sears Catalog and they got a good deal on me because they had bought my sister there too.

    We told my nephew that lots of kids come from WalMart and you can get them online but the really nice kids come from jewelry stores (he saw a baby being passed over a jewelry counter in the mall and I told him that is where nice babies come from). I told him we got him from a jewelry store but only because he was on sale.

    So, I think there are a lot of stories you could tell your kid…

  18. Ugh. I would have been so pissed. I know how I would handle the situation if I were in your shoes, but I certainly won’t go around telling you unless you asked, and I actually sort of know you and am not some random tech. UGH.

  19. That sure was ballsy of that tech. I would think that a comment like that is warrant of a pretty hefty warning by her employer, if not worse. I think the decisions anyone makes in your situation has to work for their own family, regardless of what another person would do. Sounds like you and Mr. DD are practically on the same page, which is good.

  20. Are you going to report this to clinic management?

    Stop reading here if you don’t want opinions…
    1. I would report it to clinic management.
    2. I would talk to the child about it pretty much from birth, but using age-appropriate language. This was our plan for an adopted child. There are lots of ways babies come into families, this is just one of them and none of them are better or worse than the rest. It’s a much more difficult topic to think about introducing to a child/adolescent/older teen who is capable of understanding the nuances of the situation. It seems like it would be much easier to just build on the concept, adding details throughout the years so that it is just a natural part of your family’s story. It isn’t just the child’s story, it is your story, too.

  21. People seem to have strong opinions on all stuff fertility related. Sometimes I wonder whether people have had no fertility issues have the strongest opinions (and no problem to share them either). Once you had to navigate the fertility waters, well, you may get less opinionated about other people’s choices. Maybe. Of course, this is probably true for most issues.

    Anyway, DD, I’m glad that so far everything Murdock-related sounds so promising!

  22. FLOORED! I’m just floored that she had the balls to voice her opinion. AS IF?!?! Then again, I’m guessing this woman would also think it best not to tell a child he was adopted because “it will ruin his life.” I’m thinking HER sons are screwed already.

  23. I can’t believe she even thought it was her place to make such a comment. I would have reported her to someone and I, because I have a big mouth like that, would have also said something to her.

    I think it is YOUR decision to make as to when and how you tell about the donor. And it is NO ONE’S place to tell you that!!

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