This story was written by Emma in 2018.
The constant in my life has been wanting to be a parent. Being gay, I’ve always known my family would be unconventional. I had hoped to create a family with a partner, but at the age of 33 I decided I didn’t want to spend any more of my life without my child. It was my best decision. I am a solo mum to a daughter conceived with sperm donation. I am also an egg donor via egg sharing. I hadn’t heard about egg donation before going for my own treatment, but it made perfect sense to share what I was lucky enough to have; especially as I was relying on someone else’s kind donation. Egg-sharing is sometimes positioned as the opposite of ‘altruistic donation’, as if it is motivated by self-interest or financial desperation. Yet during treatment, I felt invested for my recipient perhaps more than for myself. I feel the weight of the lifelong commitment I made with my donation: a commitment to be available should she need information, or more eggs, or want to make contact. Receiving donor sperm was for me an act of trust: that the clinic has done its research and used its judgement well; and that the donor has made a considered choice and will honour his commitments. Donating eggs was a similar act of trust: that the recipient(s) - about whom I know nothing at all - will be good parent(s); that they will tell their child that they are donor conceived; that they will support their child in whatever they choose to do.
My child and I sit on both sides of the donor conception experience, and it’s an interesting journey. As a donor conceived child, my daughter has the right to information, and to choose to make contact. As the child of a donor, she does not have these rights. I struggle with this sometimes: the consequence for her of my decision to donate. She’s only young, and I do not yet know how she will feel. I worry about the complexity of her potential network, while feeling that we need to jump feet first into this complexity… with nine potential other UK families via her sperm donor, and an unlimited number of families overseas, we have space to welcome one family via egg donation into her story. And then there is my embryo on ice. I have everything I wished for in my daughter. But can I donate this embryo, her full genetic sibling? I’m not yet sure.
There is complexity, certainly. But there is also connection. Through donor conception, and DC Network, we have met dear friends and key supporters. We have received donated breast milk when my daughter was a day-old infant. We have met the childminder to whom I entrust my daughter’s care. Through shared solo-motherhood, we know the people who are at our door when I am sick or need help.
And we are connected, too, to these people we have never met, in a circle of life. On the night my daughter was born, my heart was full. Full of love for my perfect baby. Full of gratitude for her donor, who gave life to my child. And full of good wishes for my recipient, who I hoped was experiencing her own moment like this, wherever she is. My daughter is the joy of my life. I hope hers is too.