Short donor waiting lists are not necessarily a good thing

I have spent a lot of time over the last year or so trying to counter the myth that there are long waiting lists for egg donation in the UK.  It is absolutely true that there really aren’t any longer, but a conversation with a DC Network member this morning made me recall that actually having to wait a bit for donation treatment is not necessarily a bad thing.  The person I was talking to waited two and a half years for an egg donor (8 years ago) and now feels that this was an extremely important time for her and her husband.  First of all, knowing that nothing was going to happen immediately, they were able to get off the fertility roundabout for a while and spend some time looking after their relationship which had suffered during bouts of treatment and disappointment.  A couple of good holidays and some non-baby-making sex can go a long way to healing a fractious couple.  And together and separately over time they grieved for the child they were not going to be able to create together and slowly began to talk excitedly about the child they hoped to be able to have.  A child that would be it’s own person, part of their family but not owned by them (as of course no child is owned by their parents) and how fascinating it would be to watch that child develop their own personality, character, temperament and passions in life.  They felt this waiting time allowed them to let go of their fears of the unknown and embrace the future, which as far as they are concerned certainly includes their twins (yes, they had twins) wanting to know the identity of their donor (they had treatment in the UK) and connect with half-siblings, if that is what they want to do. Gail, the woman I was talking to, acts as a Welcomer at DC Network, being put in touch by the office with new members who are either contemplating egg donation or already have children this way.  She is supportive of everyone but is often puzzled by what seem to her the very paradoxical choices some people are making, such as wanting to be open with a child but choosing an anonymous donor.  Sometimes they have been hustled down the abroad route by their UK clinic which has tie-ups with a clinic overseas, without being given the opportunity to really think things through.  They may have been told that the waiting list in the UK is more than two years and of course they want to get a donor as soon as possible, don’t they?  But I think that some couples accept their UK clinic’s suggestion to go abroad because it feels like it absolves them of the responsibility to have an identifiable donor.  Many families worry about the integrity of their family being threatened by the possibility of the donor or half-siblings making an appearance and anonymity removes, or appears to remove, that threat.  But decisions based on fear of the future are not necessarily good ones.  As with Gail and her husband, time can help alleviate fears, as can meeting others who are further down the road and gaining an understanding that love between children and parents is not based on genetics but on emotional closeness. It is incredibly difficult to think about the future needs of a child when that much longed-for baby seems so very far away.  But as another DCN member I was talking to this week said about the Preparing for Donor Conception Parenthood work shop she and her husband attended, “It was an exhausting couple of days but it helped us shift our focus to the child and understand that the decisions we make today will affect his or her life for ever more.” A bit of a wait is no bad thing.

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About oliviasview

Co-founder and now Practice Consultant at Donor Conception Network. Mother to two donor conceived adults and a son conceived without help in my first marriage.
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2 Responses to Short donor waiting lists are not necessarily a good thing

  1. Anonymouse says:

    An enforced wait *can* be a good thing – we had to wait for a UK donor and I think it did help me to be very sure that it was right for me. On the other hand, we put ourselves on the waiting list “just in case”. Had we come to a firm decision to go for donor eggs and *then* started looking for a clinic – after the many years of treatment we had already gone through and with advancing age (I was 42 when our son was born and donor eggs do not solve all the problems of late motherhood) – another couple of years of waiting might just have broken me. As it is, we ran out of time to have more than one go at a sibling – long story but our child remains a singleton.

    I think good information and counselling are key. One of the reasons I love the DCN is that it offers would-be parents the chance to explore their hopes, fears and options before they decide what to do. I wish more people were aware of it and had the opportunity to make a phone call or attend a meeting or workshop as part of their preparation for donor parenthood.

  2. oliviasview says:

    So do I anonymouse, so do I. DCN is doing it’s best to become better known and to make it clear that it is there for everyone who is needing donor conception to create their family and wherever they are having treatment. Only those 100 per cent committed to keeping the secret are likely to get little out of contact.

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