TangledWebs UK

A group challenging donor-conception practices in the UK and internationally

Sue's story

My name is Sue, and my husband and I have a son, 5 years of age, who was conceived with anonymous donor eggs. I also have 2 older children, naturally conceived from a previous marriage when I was in my 20's - so I have some feelings to compare to from direct experience.

We went through 3 years of IVF before we turned to donor eggs. Our son was born during the 4th year of "treatment". Once we were told we would need donor eggs to conceive we went about searching for a donor - anonymously. I didn't want a friend to donate. I didn't want my friend dropping in every other day and wondering to myself if she was thinking "this was really her baby". I didn't want anyone's eggs I was to receive to be known to us, because, in natural circumstances a child is created with an act of love - the provider of the eggs we used, was, in technical and truthful terms - having a child with my husband. I didn't want to go there. This is the selfish and thoughtless process we go through while we are craving to start a family and to have a child of our own. We become addicted to IVF and the hope, and with every negative result we think "we'll just go one more time" - this keeps happening until it all seems quite normal.

When our son was born my feelings naturally took a turn from what I wanted and placing ourselves in the position of getting what "we" wanted to putting our new child and his needs and rights first. This is selfless, unconditional love and what it does to you. I was and still am sure that he will grow up with love, security and trust from within "our family". We will provide him with anything he needs and most likely a lot of things he merely wants. Will this be enough for him? Should this be unspoken that this "should" be enough for him? The answer is NO.

Just because my husband and I adore him and I gave birth to him and we are his "parents" does not mean that our son will feel "whole", without the opportunity to know his complete self. To know his biological history. To know where his genes, cells, blood, characteristics - his family - have come from.

Did we have the right to knowingly conceive our son knowing full well that the above would be denied to him until 18 years of age? Or maybe never if the donor didn't register on the Reproductive Technology Council Voluntary Register? Would 18 be far too late for him to form his new and real identity? Is this fair? We couldn't wait that long for our son to go through this emotional turmoil and we wanted to prevent this.

We found our donor through the media. She was overwhelmed to meet us - and we her. Our son can grow up knowing all he needs to know, to find out things about himself, which all human beings should have the right to do.

I am not giving away my position in his life - as "mother". I am allowing him to be "himself" - to love other people - his biological mother and her family - his family. I love him unconditionally and this includes all the bits of him which aren't biologically mine. He has a right to do this also. (more so)

I actually now feel sad for him in that although he has and always will have these avenues of opportunity to contact and visitation with his biological side, he will not grow up attending "his" family functions and bonding with "his" biological family as only youth can bond. These things may happen for him in the future but the bonding from childhood can never be gained. I sincerely hope that the contact he does have now will pave the way and make connecting easier for him as he grows.

Hindsight is such a wonderful thing. I am in a position now where I could not imagine life without our beautiful son, but I have to ask, "Did we have the right to create him in this way knowing full well that he would be denied life with his biological family?" "Knowingly" and "intentionally" being key words. I think not. Look back at my first thoughts and why I didn't want a known donor. This is, in fact, in direct conflict with my son's rights as a human being in his own right.

Inviting the donor into our lives at first, felt like inviting a third person into our marriage - in being that it is a very powerful bond between two people to be biological parents of a beautiful child. Three is one person too many in a marriage.

My husband performed a sexual act, and then his sperm was mixed with this woman's eggs, to create the son I gave birth to. I was jealous at how proud my husband and the donor were. I had to overcome these feelings and did eventually. I am lucky. I also have a very strong relationship with my husband.

I now have to ponder if donor conception - if done in the best interests of the child - as it should be, is more destructive to human lives and happiness (cute, cuddly babies aside) and will be creating far more complex issues than we as human beings can emotionally cope with. Do I feel hypocritical? Yes. Do I feel donor conception should be allowed to carry on especially without mandatory declarations such as truthful birth certificates (they really are fraudulent at the moment) and transparency in all actions? NO.

This practice is wrong because we are knowingly bringing children into the world, without the rights to their own biological families. We feel sad for children whose parents separate and the child loses contact with the estranged parent. We feel sad for a child who loses a biological parent to death. We feel the loss for these children even though they may go on to receive loving parental "replacements". Why then, don't we feel sad for knowingly doing this to the child before conception? For knowingly denying a child these basic human rights.

Donor conception is far too complex for us to deal with , without the pretence of deception and lies - and this is not love.