INTERVIEW: I Met My 16-Year-Old Donor Egg Child
JoLana Talbot donated eggs anonymously because she was not offered any other option. One thing we’ve learned since starting We Are Egg Donors is that this is a pretty common experience.
What is uncommon about JoLana’s story is that she got the chance to connect with her ‘donor daughter,’ Brittan, 16 years after donating eggs. Even more unusual, JoLana and Brittan met in person for the very first time on Katie Couric’s daytime television show. The episode will air Wednesday, June 11 (find your local station here). JoLana filled us in on what it was like to meet a child produced from her donations. Check it out!
From left: Brittan; JoLana’s daughters Kristyn (19) and Bryanna (14)
WAED: Tell me about your egg donation experience.
JoLana: I began donating at the age of 23. I donated 7 times between May 1996 and December 1997 at the Nashville Fertility Clinic, and most times my eggs were split between multiple families. I was a high producer and had a great ‘success rate’- so I was told. I never had any health issues and to this day stay in contact with my clinic.
I donated because I could have never imagined life without my daughter. She was my world and everyone deserves to know that joy.
WAED: How did the Katie Couric show find you?
JoLana: My donor family had a family friend/neighbor who was a former producer of The Katie Show and pitched the story to the current producer. My girls, Kristyn (19) and Bryanna (14), and I were whisked away to NYC.
WAED: How has the Donor Sibling Registry (DSR) helped you as an egg donor?
JoLana: Without registering on DSR – this meeting would have never been possible. I donated anonymously; I was not given any choice. Brittan was a “lurker” on DSR. She googled my user name – found my Pintrest – then my Facebook. She’s a professional stalker! I am so very thankful for DSR founders Wendy and Ryan who made this meeting and 1000′s of others possible.
WAED: When did you know you wanted to meet her?
JoLana: I have always had the curiosity about the families, how the children looked, were they healthy, did the families tell them how they were conceived. I contacted the clinic every time I moved, just in case anyone needed me medically or just because. I think it would be selfish of me not to make myself available should the occasion ever arise that one day they would want to meet. I always imagined how I would handle it if I was in their shoes, and God forbid one day they need me or my daughters for medical reasons.
Half-sisters: Brittan and Bryanna
WAED: What were you thinking and feeling before you met her?
JoLana: The moment I received the friend request on Facebook, which I am very selective with, I checked out Brittan’s profile. In that instant after seeing her picture, her age and where she lived—I KNEW! She looks a lot like my daughters. I messaged her back – kinda “who are you and what do you want.” She said maybe I have the wrong Jo Lana – do you live in Nashville? Told her I did. ”I was an egg donor, is that what you are looking for?”
Her mother Janet then took over the messaging. We shared info, clinics, etc. However, Janet had no clue what donor number they had used. After messaging – we left it at “before we get her hopes up, let’s find out from the clinic their donor’s number.”
Brittan and I messaged every day asking questions – the bond was instant – I was determined I was going to help her find answers, even if those answers were not me. I knew other friends that were donors at the time, as well as one of my family members (whose donor number I knew). I contacted them to see if they knew their numbers and let them know what was going on.
Eleven days later, Janet asked for my cell number – my heart stopped! WE WERE A MATCH! I am a sap – I sobbed all day at work and could not stop smiling. Needless to say – I was overwhelmed and over-joyed! Her parents were going to share the news with Brittan after school along with my cell phone number. I don’t think there have been too many days gone by that we haven’t texted each other.
Before it was confirmed – I did not sleep for days! While in NYC – of course I would have preferred to meet them in private, but I was so nervous and anxious. I didn’t want to cry on national TV (like that was even possible). When I walked on stage – I remember not much more then a few questions and crying. But, I knew this was all for the right reasons.
Brittan and Bryanna
WAED: What was the biggest surprise?
JoLana: The biggest surprise in all of this is how much she looks like my daughters. And, that she actually found me. In my head I always knew one day one of them would seek me out – but, I always thought they would be 18.
WAED: What questions did she ask you?
JoLana: She asked me medical questions, did I get ocular migraines? Janet (Brittan’s mom) really asked most of the questions. Medical, family, how many other donor children do I think are out there?
WAED: What is your relationship like now?
JoLana: Our relationship was instant and effortless, we all bonded from the moment we met. My daughters and Brittan are sisters. We are family. We joke, we laugh, we are all witty and snarky. Hoping for another meeting this summer, as they have family not too far from me. I cannot imagine life without them!
Janet asked how she could ever re-pay me – I told her she already did. She shared her beautiful daughter with me and my family.
From left: Brittan, JoLana, Bryanna (JoLana’s daughter), Jim (Brittan’s dad), and Janet (Brittan’s mom)
WAED: If you could change anything, would you?
I don’t think I would change one thing – this is our story. It may not be for everyone, but it works for us.
It may not be the same should we ever meet any of the other families- that would all be left in their hands. I respect them whatever they choose.
WAED: What advice do you have for other egg donors?
JoLana: My advise for other donors is, the same as I gave my own daughter who is considering it. Make sure you are doing it for the right reasons, make sure it’s honest and not just about the money. Make sure you select the right clinic that treats you like a human, not just a money producer for them. Stand up if you think something is not right or healthy. Ask questions, lots of questions. My clinic was amazing, I could never criticize one thing about them. Egg donating was never suppose to change my life, but it has in the most amazing way.
WAED: Anything else you’d like to add?
JoLana: I admire the parents who are secure enough in their role as parents to be honest with their children – donor-conceived children came into this world in a very special way.
We as egg donors never want to take place of their own mothers. They have mothers who gave everything financially, mentally, and physically to bring these children into the world!
The children deserve and have the right to know their life story. And, if there is some way that the families can connect on any level – as long as it is mutual, healthy and respectful- why would you not want to have a few more people in your circle?
I know not everyone will agree with our story, our terms/verbiage, and I respect that! I just want everyone to remember – we are in uncharted territory.
Please think before you judge and be kind – it could be the difference that changes someone’s mind to make themselves known. This is our story, we are blessed!
Tune in to Katie Couric on June 11, 2014 to watch “The Search for My Egg Donor”!