My Children Have a Brother They May Never Meet
by RACHEL TROZZOLO, member of We are Egg Donors
My little boy will have a little baby sibling this summer. He will be a big brother and I will get to witness the ups and downs of their relationship from the start. They will share a room and toys and our attention. They may be best friends, or not. They will have similarities and they will have differences and I will catch myself comparing and contrasting them daily, I’m sure.
The thing is, there is another one. There is a little boy out there that is their half-brother that they may never meet… he’s the child that resulted from my egg donation in 2008. He is nearly 5 years old now and the only glimpse of him I’ve had is a phone picture of a phone picture taken when he was about 6 months old in a snowsuit. I know very little about him, aside from the fact that he has parents that wanted him more than anything. They know quite a lot about me, and I know nothing about them.
I was 22 when I embarked on the journey of becoming an egg donor.
After years of interest in the idea of egg donation, I saw a classified ad in a local publication of a couple looking for egg donor. I matched their expectations: I’m Caucasian with dark hair and light eyes. I am tall and university educated. I have an array of interests, I’m healthy, and have healthy family line. I went for the preliminary health screening and questioning at the couple’s clinic and then was moved along for a info session and psychological screening.
At the time, nothing phased me much — but I think back on the screening often now. I was asked a lot of questions that didn’t seem to matter much at the time.
I was asked, how would you feel if you donated to this couple and they had a child and then you were unable to conceive in the future? At the “mature” age of 22 I had no interest in having biological children. I was already married, and my wife wanted children but we were both comfortable with the idea of adoption, or she would carry our children. At 22, I was quick to respond that this was not an issue for me; having biological children was not important.
A funny and unexpected thing happened during that donation cycle.
When my body was pumped full of hormones to stimulate my ovarian follicles — matured for the purpose of giving another woman a chance to be a mother — part of me changed as well. For the first time in my life, I had a desire to be pregnant. I started to think about carrying a child and being a mother in a very different way. Dialogue began between my wife and I and our plans for future parenthood took a different path. She was relieved that I would be interested in carrying because, while she was willing, it wasn’t exactly topping her lists of interest. I donated 4 more times in the next few years and in those years, my desire to bare children solidified: I wanted a baby with my genes.
At 26, we embarked on journey to conceive. We had decided to use one of the doctors at the clinic where I’d cycled as a donor. We made our picks from the sperm bank. We decided to go ahead and do medicated cycles because we figured it would increase chances and be more cost efficient (fertility drugs are covered by my benefits plan).
We did 6 IUI cycles (5 of which were medicated). But it wasn’t taking… and the doctor had no clue why.
I responded well to the drugs, I had high quality eggs, I was young. There was no answer, but there were a couple options. We could continue on the road we were taking or we could try IVF. I wasn’t scared of IVF because I had been through the worst of the procedure as a donor. We decided to go for it. Again, it failed… for some unexplained reason. At this point, that my mind was racing. I feared exactly what I had discredited just a few years ago:
What if there was a biological child out there from my eggs but I would never have the option of raising a biological child?
What if it was the fact that I had helped another couple that I couldn’t help myself?
Why wasn’t Karma on my side?
Shortly after the failed attempt, we were successful at home with a “fresh donation” from a friend of a friend and self-insemination. I don’t have to necessarily worry about those worries and questions anymore but I have different ones. No part of me regrets the decision I made to be an egg donor but I regret how I went about it and the contract I locked myself into. I regret not requesting an open donation. I did not understand the gravity of my decisions; I believed I was mature and now I look back and feel like I was just a kid.
That psychological screening, many years ago, had “screened” a version of myself I could no longer relate to. I had no way of knowing that egg donation would impact my life the way it did.
I will compare my children and notice their similarities forever. At this point, I wonder if I will ever stop wondering about the little boy out there.
I wonder if I will get over my curiosity about his personality and facial expressions. I wonder: Will he face similar challenges as my own children? Will he excel in the same areas?
When the child is older, he’ll be able to access to my contact information – that is, if his parents tell him he is donor-conceived. If he ever wants to reach out, he could get in touch with me. My questions may be answered some day but it’s just as likely that I will never know and my children will have missed out on the opportunity to know the person who shares half their genes.
Editor’s Note: Rachel’s son is now the proud big brother to a newborn baby girl. Photos courtesy of Rachel Trozzolo.