I was 24 years
old when I decided to donate my eggs. I thought I knew it all, I was sure I had
life figured out. With donation I saw an opportunity to help couples struggling
to conceive while also lightening my own student loan debt. It seemed like such
an easy decision to make at the time.
in the past about the dangers
of egg donation and the growing
issues within the industry, both important topics that anyone considering
donating their eggs or using donor eggs should educate themselves on before
moving forward. But now I want to talk about the anonymity
that often accompanies egg and sperm donations today and whether that anonymity is actually a good thing.
Egg and sperm
donations are done almost exclusively on an anonymous basis. Donors never know
more than a few details about the families receiving their donations, and while
those families may be given information like first names and photos, identifying details about the donors are typically kept under wraps as well. Most agencies will tell you that this is to protect all parties involved.
As far as I
was concerned back then, that made enough sense to me. Biology was an inconsequential part of the equation. I didn't
have a relationship with my own mother and some of the people I held most dear
in my life were those I shared no biological bonds with. It never crossed my
mind to consider what it would mean to have someone else raising those eggs of
mine, to be kept
completely out of the loop regarding who those eggs would become. Because once
they evolved beyond eggs, I knew—they wouldn't be mine. They would belong to the woman who carried them, to the
family who loved them.
I donated to
two families. The first wound up conceiving twins, a boy and a girl who likely
started first grade this year. I was told the second family was not successful
on the first try, but I never heard anything beyond that. It is at least
possible that they were able to use my frozen eggs to conceive during a
always know the answers to these questions. They aren't always given
information regarding the outcome of their donations.
The truth is, when I chose to donate, I didn't fully understand what it meant to sever those biological ties.
A lot has
changed for me in the seven years since I donated. I lost my own ability to
conceive and I adopted a little girl who brings me more joy than I ever knew
before her—an act that has both solidified my previous belief that biology is
not necessary for love, while also contradicting my stance that it holds no
weight at all.
You see, I
watch my daughter and I know there is no possible way I could ever love her
more. Everything about her is perfection to me. She is my daughter. Even the fact that another woman carried her could do
nothing to shake my belief that the two of us were always meant to come
together. But, seeing her with that other woman also routinely reminds me of how
substantial their connection is. I can no longer deny that biology means something when I watch the two of them
We have a very
open adoption, one that includes the woman who brought my daughter into the
world as well as my daughter's siblings and extended biological family. The
resemblance between her and those who share her genes is uncanny. Even the
mannerisms are often the same. And as much as it sometimes cuts me to be faced
with the reminder that she isn't just all mine, it also makes me happy to know
that she is always going to have access to the people she came from. I
appreciate having that access as well, a fact which has come in handy more than
once now when I have had questions about things like family medical history.
experience often causes me to think back on my donations, though. The truth is,
when I chose to donate, I didn't fully understand what it meant to sever those
biological ties. I didn't know what I was signing up for when I agreed to such anonymity.
while I refuse to ever regret my decision to donate, I can't help but wonder
about those children who are potentially walking around with my eyes, my nose, my
laugh, my clumsiness and my lust for storytelling.
I can't help
but wonder how much of me is in them.
I think about
them often. Certainly more than I ever thought I would. Not in the sense of
claiming them or believing them to be mine, because I in no way see myself as a
parental figure in their lives. But that curiosity is there. Perhaps only
heightened by the fact that I will now never have a biological child of my own, I suppose leaving me to question what those children I may have had would have
What if (anonymity) only creates a divide that shouldn't be there at all?
sometimes if their parents think about me as well. I heard from them once, an
e-mail sent through the donor agency thanking me for all I had given them. They
told me a bit about their son and daughter and even offered to send a picture,
if I was interested. I replied to the agency immediately that I was, but I
never heard anything again. The agency stopped replying to my inquiries and I'm
still not sure what happened. Maybe they changed their minds. Or maybe the
agency intervened, as I'm told has been known to happen in cases like mine. It
seems that these agencies really like that anonymity. They like the line to be
drawn in the sand, maybe because they still believe it better protects all
But what if it
only creates a divide that shouldn't be there at all?
I wonder if
you're still out there. If you ever think about me and wonder where my life has
gone. I wonder if you look at your children sometimes and imagine which of
their little quirks are pieces of you and which are pieces of me. And if you
ever think about what it would be like if that anonymity wasn't there.
Would you send
me Christmas cards with their photos? Would you feel comfortable picking up the
phone if a family medical question arose?
And would you
want to know about me? About my daughter and our life and how I have never once
regretted donating, despite the subsequent loss of my own fertility. About how some
days I almost even want to thank you, because I've come to believe it was those
donations that eventually led me to my little girl. And I wouldn't change
having her in my life for anything.
Maybe you're reading this now. Maybe you're wondering what I want from
you. And maybe it's really scary, because you have your life and your kids and
everything has lined up just the way you dreamed it would and this was not part
of the deal.
I get that. I get that when I signed on to be a donor, I promised
to be completely content remaining far off in the wings—out of sight and out of
mind. But I guess I didn't totally know what that would mean when I first
agreed to donate my eggs. And now, I find myself often so curious about who
those eggs have become.
I wonder if
you, or they, ever have a similar curiosity about me.
I don't want
to take anything away from you. I don't want to intrude upon your lives or make you
feel in any way uncomfortable. I just want to know you. And I want to know
whatever you would be willing to share about those children you are now
this my attempt to break the anonymity. I donated once in California in the
summer of 2007, and once in Boston in the winter of 2008. If you received my eggs, you've seen pictures of me. You read a profile a mile long before
selecting me as your donor. You already know that this is all directed toward you.
My name is
Leah Campbell, and I am easy enough to find if you ever decide you are willing
to reach out and make contact.
I would love
to know you.
Maybe we could even be friends.
Editor's note: The images above are all from Leah Campbell's donor profile. We added them here to help her in her search.