Nina Smith

Lesbian Baby-Making

Filed By Nina Smith | November 12, 2007 7:15 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: finance industry, lesbian, parenting, pregnancy

“Love and eggs are best when they are fresh” – Russian Proverb

Recently, the FedEx driver and recognizable sistah, dropped off the latest batch of medication flown in from the Freedom Fertility Pharmacy in Byfield, Mass. Tucked inside was a credit card receipt for $2362.59. For many, that’s the equivalent of a house payment or two depending on where you live. For us, this is the first installment of moolah that we’ll layout with another round of IVF.

We’re approaching our third try and having the injections on hand is part of the preparation. After our second attempt didn’t work, my partner and I consulted our fertility specialist to regroup on the options and he immediately introduced donor eggs into discussion.

In our private talks, my partner agreed we could move on to adoption if she didn’t get pregnant. Donor eggs never came up in the conversation – until now! Where can I get me some of those fresh, young eggs? But hold on, not that simple. Expect me to ramble on about the expense further down the page, but money aside, who knew there would be so much emotion around “should we or shouldn’t we” buy eggs.

The idea of relinquishing the bio-mama role to another person is riddled with issues and something I never considered. All along, I’ve planned to be the adoptive parent so the concept of my own flesh and blood was never a part of my mindset.

Peggy Orenstein wrote a fascinating feature in the The New York Times magazine several weeks ago called “Your Gamete, Myself” and it covered the complexities with contemplating this option. She writes:

Why don’t you just adopt? That is the first question most people ask if you say you’re considering egg donation. It’s the question I asked myself, as had every potential donor recipient I spoke with. Why create a child where none existed? Why spend the money on something that’s not a sure bet? Why ask another woman, even (or maybe especially) a friend, to inject herself with drugs — drugs whose side effects, although unlikely, could require hospitalization and even, in extremely rare instances, be fatal. (Recipients of donor eggs are required to buy supplementary health insurance for the donors in case something untoward occurs.)

The answers among the women I met were both deeply personal and surprisingly consistent… these women longed for the experience of pregnancy, childbirth and breast-feeding. Often they (or, more often, their husbands) resisted adoption, reasoning that egg donation would be psychologically easier on the child, who would be born — rather than relinquished — into its family. They wanted the opportunity to hand-pick a donor’s genes rather than gamble on a birth mother’s and father’s.

The notion that blood is thicker than water, that we can pass on our best — or someone else’s best — characteristics (but somehow not our worst) is a powerful one, even though anyone who has biogenetic children will tell you that they can be as different from one another, and from their parents, as strangers. Women using donor eggs know that. But the dream, the hope, of replicating oneself dies hard.

I had no idea my partner carried so much emotion with her wish to replicate herself. We agreed early on that we would try three rounds of IVF (at $12,000 a pop) and even though the odds are stacked against us, she’s not ready to move on and consider donor eggs or adoption. Hence, the injections and doctor visits will begin again soon.

But in parallel, we’re doing our egg research and it’s going to cost us a pretty penny should we decide to do it. But before anyone will take our checks… there are more ethical hurdles to overcome as I’ve learned from Orenstein and the many women who question the morality of egg donation. She writes:

Taking into your home a baby who needs one is inherently more ethical than pursuing a very intensive route to have a biological child,’ one potential donor recipient told me. Perhaps that’s why public support for and approval of parents who use donor gametes is lower than for those who adopt — the former is presumably perceived by some as a rather selfish act and the latter a selfless one. Yet adoption has often come with its own ethical quandaries, whether it was the girls ‘in trouble’ who were pressured to give up their children in the 1950s or the current State Department caution against adopting from Guatemala in the wake of reports of child smuggling. What’s more, the idea of healthy infants who ‘need’ homes, particularly white infants, is a myth: domestically, demand has always far outstripped supply.

All this talk and research makes me want to raise my hands in despair and wonder if we’ll ever get the baby! And how will we finally end up getting it? Ethics and morality aside, we have a finite amount of money to spend and when it’s gone, it’s gone. Donor eggs will set us back another $25,000. Adoption has its own costs and options.

At what point do you start looking at this as a business decision and what’s going to give us the greater return on investment verses rolling the dice – Vegas style. For me personally, I think we should be betting on donor eggs at this stage but my partner wants to write one more chapter before closing the bio-book. Perhaps it will have a happy ending. Or set us up for the sequel. You never know. Another $12,000 will tell.

By the way, we are not alone. Here are other lesbians blogging about their baby-making pursuits: Two Georgia Mommies, Cutest Little Babymakers In Town, Babycakes, It Takes a Village, and A New Family.

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Nina blogs about money over at Queercents.


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It makes me long for the simplicity of having babies the "old-fashioned way".

Then again, I just started teaching elementary school this past month, and I don't know if kids are in my game plan now!

Good luck, Nina!

Your baby is waiting for you... I'm confident of it. When the time is right, the "universe" (whatever that means) will send him/her your way.

We are a gay couple that are not quite ready to start our journey but have had many friends that have. Thousands of dollars spent on IF that didn't turn out until the 5th or 6th go, adoption agencies that have given them the run around... more than enough reasons to give up... but they didn't and ended up with precious bundles.

I'm sure it is difficult, but it is possible. My thoughts are with you. Good luck from here on out!

Having gone through IVF with my partner five years ago, when I donated an egg to her, I understand some of what you're going through. It took us two tries, and I'm not sure what we would have done if we'd gone through three with no luck. (We were lucky in that our insurance covered everything but the sperm.)

I don't think there's any one right answer to the question of how to create a family. Just be confident that however you do it, you will find your hearts full of love for your child. Sounds corny, but it's true.

(Those interested in further blogs by LGBT parents and prospective parents may want to browse the links I've collected in the Mombian Resource Directory under LGBT Family Blogs.)

Nina,

I am seeing more and more lesbian couples in my practice who are negotiating whether or not to become parents, and once decided, then negotiating how to become parents. It's a gut-wrenching process; and one I went through with my own partner - which I'm happy to report resulted in our twin sons, now five.

It has been my experience that when it comes to family planning, the only thing you can actually plan on is that much will not unfold as planned (did I mention we had twins). :)And that doesn't stop once the child(ren)arrives. :) It has certainly been worth the expense (pre and post-pregnancy) in my experience, but it is crucial that you, or your partner, is not also accumulating resentments along the way, for they are harder to pay off than debt, and rebuilding trust and connection is harder to do than rebuilding your savings. Take care of your connection, it's the most valuable asset you'll have once you do become parents; however you end up arriving there.

Wishing you fertile thoughts!
Michele

Alex: I hear ya about longing for the old-fashioned way as every "try" costs money for queer couples. Some go through extraordinary lengths to be come parents like this gay couple profiled in the Los Angeles Times recently.

Inarticulate Fumblings: Those were kind and articulate words. Thank you!

Dana: As usual, thanks for your continued support and providing a terrific resource for parents and parents-to-be with Mombian.

Michele: That's excellent advice. Since I'm the one that typically freaks out about the money... it's been extremely important that we talk about the financial stress and agree on a dollar limit. It sounds so unromantic, but something my partner understands is needed in order for me to be okay with this expensive process. Communication is key and we're both trying to be open and honest with our feelings. Thanks for the fertile thoughts.

Hi - I'm gearing up for IVF #2 - we're not yet at a point where we'd consider donor eggs for our endeavour - but I did want to point you towards the Stirrup Queen's website, stirrup-queens.blogspot.com.

Mel has perhaps the most comprehensive infertility website on the net, and her links page has a huge list of GLBT "wannabe parents" blogs, as well as those specifically dealing with IVF and donor gametes.

Good luck!

Hi,

My life partner and I are going through the same thing. It is very difficult. We are two guys both 28 and just want to have kids. I want to have kids the old fashion way but the whole process is depressing.

I keep wishing and hoping to find a lesbian couple to help us build a wonderful healthy family. I don't know where to start or how to go about doing this. I am lost.

If anyone can help, please contact us.