Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Coming Out

I have a confession to make. I have not yet "come out" as an embryo donor.

My older children know, our parents know, and a very select group of our friends know. But that is it.

Not to say it's exactly a topic of conversation that comes up every day. "Hey~did you catch the weather report this morning?" "How about that game last night??" "By the way..did I mention we've placed our 6 frozen embryos up for adoption??"

Even telling the few people we have has not been an easy task. First and foremeost, it can be a bit confusing to someone completely unfamiliar with the process of IVF. Take my mother for example. She is 60+ years young, and as old-school as they come. Yes, we told her we were going through IVF when our daughter was conceived last summer. But I'm not sure she ever really truly grasped the process. So when I further complicated matters by trying to explain that we've still got 6 frozen embryos in storage that we had decided to donate to an infertile couple...well...she kind of just looked back at me with a bit of a blank stare.

I think she still believes she'll be babysitting another grandchild a year from now. :)

So while I've been thrilled to share this journey with the entire blogosphere, I'm much more guarded when it comes to discussing it with people I know in "real life".

Although I suppose I'm ashamed to admit it, part of me does worry about being judged. Embryo donation/adoption being such a relatively new concept, there is much room for...shall we say..."opinion" on the matter. And while I stand firm in my convictions and am incredibly confident with our choice, it hurts to find others not so supportive.

I have one friend in particular, whom I love like a sister and whose friendship I cherish very deeply, who has caused me great pain through this process. When I received the initial contact from our clinic over the summer regarding our snow babies, she was the first person I called. I told her how conflicted I was and that I wanted to make sure I was doing the right thing. I talked through my options with her, and she listened intently as she always does.

Having reached our decision to donate, she was once again one of the first people I shared the news with, and again, I received her full attention. But then, when I told her we'd be flying out to meet our donor family, she had little to no reaction. When I told her about their protocol and their procedural updates, nothing. Following their visit here and subsequent transfer, no comment. And even after telling her they were blessed with a positive pregnancy test, no response.

My heart was breaking inside that she was not able to share my joy and celebrate this miracle with me. And so I felt I had no other choice but to confront her. In all fairness, she seemed incredibly relieved when I did. Almost as if she'd wanted to do it herself, but didn't have the courage.

And then her words cut me like a knife~~"I just don't see what good can possibly come from this." That was what she said. At first, I asked how she could not see something wonderful and full of love coming from this amazing couple realizing their dream of having a family?? She clarified that while she did understand and support our decision to donate our embryos, she could not support our decision to remain open throughout the process and continue to have a relationship with our recipient family. She said she only saw this as an inevitable source of pain and hurt for me in the future.

While I want to believe~~need to believe~~that she truly has my best interests at heart, I cannot escape the pain her disapproval has caused me. And this from a dear friend. So what am I to believe the reaction of outsiders might be??

I have been "introduced" to countless AMAZING women since beginning this crazy IVF journey, and have found myself consumed with blog updates and insights into everyone's journeys of heartache and jubilation. I could go on & on & on about the tears I've shed, the aching in my heart, and the sheer joy I've experienced. This is really and truly a sacred place and I feel so incredibly blessed to occupy even a tiny corner of this world.

A fellow blogger asked to share my story on her FB wall yesterday and I humbly accepted. However, I could not bring myself to "like" the page itself. To put it out to the masses that I was a "face" of embryo donation. To share what has become a vital part of my person with those whom I'm supposedly "friends".

And for this I am ashamed.

I am a firm believer~~a MOST firm believer~~in everything happening for a reason. I was supposed to be done having children 8 years ago. My tubes were tied. I never experienced infertility. IVF was something completely foreign to me.

Yet here I am.

And I am HUMBLED. And HONORED. So please forgive me as I continue to come to terms with my place in this world.

To you I say, I AM a face of embryo donation. And I wouldn't have it any other way.


  1. I for one thank you for starting this blog. I, personally, have gone through ivf and have decided that once our family is complete, we will place our remaining embryos for adoption. I love seeing the process unfold from anothe rplacing parents eyes. So, thank you for you courage to post a blog. I appreciate you allowing me into your journey. If you have a chance, feel free to swing by and check out my jurney. Have a Merry Christmas!!!

  2. Hi Michelle,

    I've thanked you before, and I'll thank you again. As it says on the home page of my blog, you are such an amazing resource in the world of Embryo Adoption. THe only one of your kind, really. I know that there might be another placing parent blog or two out there, but none that not only write about their own journeys but embrace those of adopting families as well. You are a shining star for us. By your openness, we are able to better understand the range of emotions that accompanies the many aspects of the placing parents perspectives. For you, we are grateful.

    As far as your friend's opinion goes, clearly she has your emotional best interest in mind. I am glad that she sees the value in allowing another couple grow their families with your embryos. As far as the openness with the adoptive family goes, you did indeed have the option of having a closed adoption, as many families have chosen this option. But you chose an open adoption, and that was the best choice for your family. Perhaps you could explain that first and foremost, you wanted to be open and available for the sake of all of the children involved (those who you gave birth to and those who were placed for adoption). All of the literature suggested the openness is the best policy for children. This way they will be less likely to struggle with "why" the placing parents don't want to know them and your kids won't struggle with "why" they can't know their genetic siblings. In your case, there will be an extended family who loves and accepts ALL of the children. To me, that sounds a lot better than unanswered questions.

    The other result of your openness is your relationship with your adopting family. We can't ignore the amazing connection that your families have. To me, this is one of the most wonderful and unexpected aspects of this path to motherhood. I would be truly missing out, had my placing family would have chosen to remain anonymous. I have their children's pictures on my desk at work. They inspire me to keep going and remind me of the end result, every single day. I'd like to think that they are grateful for the role that we play in their lives as well. Because we have adopted, they are at peace with the fate of their remaining embryos. Because they know us, they know that their frozen snowbabies are in good hands.

    Well, I could certainly go on, and on. But mostly I just wanted to tell you how awesome I think you are!

    Merry Christmas!

  3. Thank you for taking the time to share your heart. I am sorry that your friend has not been supportive. It hurts when those closest to us do not fully understand and at times do not accept the decisions that we make. Praying for you and your friend, that she can see how wonderful it is for you to remain part of the donor family's life. Coming from the side of an anonymous donation it breaks my heart that Maddie will never get the chance to meet the couple that gave a part of themselves to us. Though I know your journey will not always be sunshine and roses, it will be a wonderful experience for all of you!

    Again, thank you for sharing this with all of us!!!