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tranquilsea's avatar

Would you donate eggs (for IVF) to a sibling if your daughter vehemently didn't want you to?

Asked by tranquilsea (17760points) August 15th, 2013

This is my dilemma. My younger sister has a fertility problem that means that even with fertility help she wouldn’t be able to conceive. Two years ago I offered to donate some eggs to help her out thinking that this wouldn’t be a problem. I was very wrong. My daughter, 14 at the time, got extremely upset. I tried to talk to her. I let her know that I understood her upset and I wasn’t making the decision to hurt her but to help my sister have a baby. She was inconsolable until I agreed not to.

This became a non issue when my sister didn’t take me up on the offer. Until today. She sent me an e-mail asking me if I was still agreeable. That e-mail puts me in a bit of dilemma. On the one hand: this is my body and I should be able to do what I want. On the other hand I don’t want to create a chasm between my now 16 year old daughter and myself. I could donate and not tell my daughter but that choice is fraught with pitfalls and goes against my honest nature. I could talk to my daughter again and hope that she has matured a bit more and understands a bit more. Somehow I think that her position will be the same.

What would you do?

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48 Answers

ragingloli's avatar

Just do it and deal with her protestations later.

livelaughlove21's avatar

I don’t get why she’d be so against it in the first place. What exactly are her objections?

JLeslie's avatar

I think talk to her again. But, remember I don’t really know her.

The questions in my mind are, are you donating so the baby will be “blood” related, or is it to save the money for donated eggs, or maybe another reason.

Is your daughter upset because she feels the child will be her genetic half sister and not having her sister always with her is disconcerting? Or, maybe she is worried about your health?

I think you need to know why everyone wants what they want so you can make a better decision regarding whether you are willing to against or disappoint one of the people. Or, for that matter overcome your daughter’s objections so she feels comfortable if you choose to do it.

It might be hard for her to imagine your baby not growing up in your home. Most sisters I know feel like the children of their sister’s are like their own. Love them, would take them in a second God forbid something happen to their mother, etc. Maybe you would never do this for someone else, but for your sister it is not only helping her, but you also feel like it’s ok for your biological child to be with her, because it is still in the family. Or, maybe you would be fine giving your eggs to anyone to help them.

It’s not simple, people feel many different ways about things like this.

I’m assuming your husband supports the idea.

wildpotato's avatar

This seems like a situation where a few sessions with a family counselor might be helpful.

gailcalled's avatar

This ia such a complicated issue that this; Somehow I think that her position will be the same is a dangerous assumption.

Ask her. It’s a jumping-off point. Any assumptions from the collective, too,
are dangerous and just confuse the issue.

If she is still is adamant, you are up a tree. If she is ambivalent, counseling would be a good next step.

zenvelo's avatar

I like the idea of a family counselor to help a conversation for a couple of sessions. But it is not your daughter’s decision, it is yours, and your daughter should know that it is not her decision or right to dictate what you can do with your eggs.

Cupcake's avatar

1. I would email my sister to acknowledge that I received her request and that I needed to spend some time with my family to make sure that everyone was ok with proceeding before I made any commitments.
2. I would get to the heart of the issue and understand why my daughter objected. Her objection is bizarre to me. Perhaps there is something she doesn’t understand. Perhaps she has very valid concerns. Find out.
3. If, after understanding and addressing her concerns, my daughter continued to be so vehemently opposed, I would not do it. Family unity would be more important to me than my sister’s baby.
4. I would not tell my sister that my daughter opposed.

You are able to do what you want with your body, of course. But why would you do something that would be so upsetting to your daughter?

gailcalled's avatar

@Cupcake; Sister’s baby would be the OP’s daughter’s half-sibling (sister or brother, remember).

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Cupcake is right, in my opinion. It would be easy to do it anyway, but can you imagine her seeing her ‘sister’ at a family event in the future, that looks a lot like her? It could destroy your relationship forever.

Most of you know about my half-sibs and that the lies and deceit BY OUR FAMILY destroyed any chance of us having a meaningful relationship. Don’t lie to your kids if you don’t have to.

rojo's avatar

Your daughter is 16 now and might have a different perspective. Worth the time to find out.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I am also at a loss as to why she would have an issue. You’re doing a wonderful thing for a person you love, that’s a great example. And an addition to the family, even of a half sibling, is wonderful, it’s not up to her. If this was my child, I’d be disappointed in them and sit down and explain to them that, aside from this being MY choice and MY body (like they were), it’s about something bigger than she is.

CWOTUS's avatar

Ask your daughter if she will do it instead. Her eggs may be more viable now, anyway.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

For everyone who doesn’t understand why the daughter would have a problem with this- she would have a sistercousin. Sounds a little creepy and inbred when you put it that way, doesn’t it?

@Simone_De_Beauvoir To be disappointed in a child and take them to task over such a major thing is really cold and insensitive to their feelings. This isn’t donating your chickens’ eggs for dinner; it’s giving a piece of yourself to make a baby that won’t be yours. I can easily see why the daughter might feel distressed over it. Sure, helping the sister is a wonderful thing, but not at the expense of her daughter’s feelings. I’ve previously mentioned being an egg donor, but it made my husband uncomfortable, so I’m not going to do it.

@tranquilsea If you really are comfortable donating to your sister, I think talking to your daughter again seems like the best thing to do. Hopefully, for your sister’s sake, your daughter will be more open to the idea now.

Cupcake's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate Nope, doesn’t sound creepy or inbred to me.

janbb's avatar

I would definitely explore my daughter’s scruples with her and if they could not be overcome, I would honor them. I think your own children’s needs are primary. But if some family counseling might change her outlook and she is willing, I would try that.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@Cupcake Well it sure does to me, and I live in the south where jokes are made all the time about brothercousins and uncledaddies. It’s not funny when you’re her age.

cookieman's avatar

@Cupcake nailed it. Great advice.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@WillWorkForChocolate Well, I don’t happen to think that’s cold or insensitive. I expect a lot of my children, especially if they’re 14 or 16 and being selfish without moving on or working through that isn’t a thing I would feel proud about. There is nothing wrong with being disappointed with your children, they’re not special species, and like all people, are fallible. They can understand things, make mistakes, and make things better. But, clearly, this is a triggering topic for you. If you made a decision about this very similar thing that sounds different from what I would do…well you have to justify it somehow. We all do. It’s okay, I understand.

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gorillapaws's avatar

I would rationally address all of your daughter’s concerns. Help her empathize with her aunts situation and have her imagine not being able to ever give birth and start a family of her own. Tell her how much you love her and how important it is for your sister to have to opportunity to love her child in the same way you love your daughter. You could also agree to abide by your daughter’s decision, but insist that she personally tell her aunt to her face why she won’t let her mom help her have a child.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@gorillapaws Perhaps then she would face the raw emotion and that could promote understanding, but if auntie got mad, it could turn bad quick. Hmmm….

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@gorillapaws If the daughter is already feeling uncomfortable, forcing her to confront the aunt herself would be an incredibly damaging thing to do.

Some of the comments here seriously make me think some of you have no understanding of how to empathize with your children, or just flat out don’t have children and can’t relate.

tranquilsea's avatar

Well, I tried talking with her again and she just went quiet then stormed out of the house angry. She can be a hard person to reason with. When this went sideways two years ago I tried every avenue I could think of to get her to understand. I even went as far as saying that it was hurtful to me that she felt she had a say over what I did with my body. But I also told her that I realized that this affected her too.

Today I tried to get her to tell me why she was so upset but she wouldn’t say. I’m hoping that her walk will help her reason a bit more.

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tranquilsea's avatar

Her principle argument right now is that any potential baby would be my baby and not my sister’s. That is wrong to her. I tried to get her to understand all the people out there who donate both eggs and sperm and how that helps thousands of people have families of their own.

Honestly, if my sister couldn’t carry a baby I would for her. My heart breaks that she can’t have a family of her own.

johnpowell's avatar

I would bring it up again. 2 years is a lot when you are that young.

Maybe explain that it is your sister. The DNA is pretty much the same between you two.

tranquilsea's avatar

@johnpowell That is why I offered my sister that option two years ago. I’m as close as she’ll get to having a genetically similar baby.

What’s interesting is my sons and my hubby were slightly uncomfortable but told me to do what I thought I should. Right answer.

I understand the bond between me and my daughter is different. What she needs to understand is that her reaction is like me telling her to have or not have a baby. Which is wrong.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@tranquilsea Wow, that’s a strange argument. I don’t how you can convince her. Maybe explain you’re donating ½ of the raw material. The father’s contributing the other half so it won’t be your baby. And your providing material from a known gene pool so it’s safer for everyone?

tranquilsea's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe The argument isn’t so strange to me. They’ve grown up listening to us attributing one physical or mental feature to either my husband or me. That is the premise she is thinking about.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@tranquilsea My mom once told me, when she wanted to date, that even though I didn’t understand (I was being snotty about it as usual) that adults needed other adults for companionship, she was going to go ahead because she was the adult, and I needed to grow up and think about it instead of reacting emotionally.

All I’m saying is that ultimately the decision is yours, it’s your SISTER, you shared a womb, not your daughter, husband or son. I’m sorry for the position you’re in.

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tranquilsea's avatar

@KNOWITALL That is my dilemma: just how should her reaction stop me from doing what I feel is right?

KNOWITALL's avatar

@tranquilsea It shouldn’t. But to preserve the relationship you could try my mom’s trick.

My mother forced me to talk to her when I got stubborn about something like that. Just you and her in a room. Whatever it is, she has to verbalize it so you can figure it out together. I hated it, I cried and screamed, but in the end, I talked before I left that room and it got worked out. Teenage girls are often very closed-mouthed, it’s the hormones I think.

This is an important lesson to learn in dealing with people anyway, like a husband or SO, you have to talk it out.

livelaughlove21's avatar

Maybe you should explain to her that donating genetic material does not make you the resulting child’s mommy.

I don’t think it’s a valid argument, and I’ll be damned if I’d deny my sister the donation based on a flawed argument by a 16 year old. She’ll get over it.

Cupcake's avatar

I still think there are underlying fears here. Perhaps stop trying to logic it out with her and acknowledge her. Maybe she wants to be your only daughter. Maybe whatever.

I say stop talking and just listen. Assure. Love. Be patient with her. She is hurting.

Jeruba's avatar

I’d be solidly against any course that involved deception, whether active or passive. The damage that could do is incalculable. No secret is likely to stay secret as long as anyone knows.

The first question that occurred to me was this: is maternal age a consideration? (I don’t know—just asking.) If you have a daughter old enough to understand the implications and object, do you also have eggs that are old enough to be risky where donation is concerned? I’m thinking that time might possibly have answered this question already.

If you don’t donate to your sister, she won’t be any worse off than she is now. You would not be taking anything away from her that’s hers by nature or by rights, and she does have other options. Would you be causing a permanent rift with your daughter? Again, just asking. Maybe she can’t even articulate what feels wrong to her about it, and maybe she can be pressured into agreeing, but you have to know the cost of your decision before you make it. I think you also have to be utterly clear on your own motivations.

Blondesjon's avatar

I think that whatever problems your daughter may have with your decision would dissolve as soon as she laid eyes on that baby. I may be old school, but sixteen years old is not old enough to really even comprehend what lies behind making a choice like you need to make let alone having a voice in the process.

wildpotato's avatar

@tranquilsea It occurs to me that people tend to become more accepting of people with different and seemingly strange backgrounds by exposure to them. Does your daughter know anyone who is adopted or who is a product of donated genetic material on one side? It might be worth asking that person to answer some questions about how he or she feels about his or her parentage. Or suggesting to your daughter that she just think about any friends she has at school who fall into that category, and whether they seem to have a “normal” relationship with their parents, not so dissimilar to her own relationship with you.

Kardamom's avatar

I haven’t yet read anyone else’s answers, but will do so after posting. I would absolutely not donate the eggs under this circumstance. Why? Because even though you are donating eggs that will be legally your sister’s child, in reality/biology, you will also be creating a sister to your daughter that will also be her cousin. That would be very unsettling to a lot of people, myself included.

You should know that I would never consider donating eggs to anyone, no matter how much they wanted a baby, because that child would still be my child, even if I had no legal custody of that baby. It would still be my child that I was giving away on purpose and that doesn’t sit well with me.

Your sister’s best bet is to get a non-related egg donor, particularly from someone she or your family has no relationship with, not even a friend, because it sets up too many potentially awkward situations for more than just one person, if the egg is someone’s relative, but it has to be explained how that baby is related to other people in the family, very messy.

Supacase's avatar

Your sister is taking you up on a offer you’ve already voluntarily made. Hw will it affect your relationship with her if you say no now? I can’t help but feel enormous sympathy for her. Desperately wanting a child but not being able to have one is one of the most painful experiences endured by some of my friends. I’m not sure a teen can fully appreciate this.

I understand taking your daughter’s feelings into consideration, but you need to know what her objections are. “Just because” isn’t good enough any more than it would be for her if you told her she couldn’t do something and had no reason. Maybe she will open up to her dad or one of her brothers about it since they are essentially in the same position and share some of her reservations.

Harming my relationship with my daughter would devastate me so I understand your concern. I don’t think I would do it if she is so greatly opposed, but I do think think she owes it to you and her aunt to explain why. (Not that she needs to say anything to your sister, just that she needs to really think about the impact her decision could have.). Your daughter’s teenage reaction will have lifelong consequences for people other than just her and she is old enough to acknowledge that.

JLeslie's avatar

@tranquilsea I’m thinking for now you need to avoid saying to your daughter things like it’s your body and she should respect that you can do what you want with it while trying to discuss the issue. You don’t want this to be a power struggle where she will just want to win. The main goal has to be finding out why she doesn’t want you to do it. How she perceives it will affect her. Maybe when you hear why she is so upset about the idea it might even change your mind. Can someone else try to speak to her? Your husband maybe? Someone who will be completely focused on her, rather it be a battle of your decision versus hers? I am not accusing you of battling, I mean from her perception it is what you want to do versus what she wants you to do. It just can’t seem like evryone is ganging up on her. She may be afraid her reason will be dismissed as unimportant so she isn’t telling.

Also, @Jeruba raised a good point, if you are over 40 your fertility is already heavily on the decline and your eggs would have more chance of genetic problems and also they would retrieve and fertilize much fewer egg than a younger donor. Age 35 is usually when the sharp decline begins, it varies for different women of course, but only by a few years. I can explain to you what actually reduces the chances of success if you want. Certainly your sister can check with her RE and see what they think about your age. In the end the way to really know is a day 3 of your cycle testing to see where you are in your fertility. Maybe consider testing before fighting with your daughter? You can even do that without telling your sister, so you protect your daughter. FYI, very few GYN’s in the US know what to test (which is ridiculous and makes me sick, I know your are in Canada and it might be different there) but basically they do bloodwork on day 3 for hormones like FSH, LH and an ultrasound to count your follicles and something else on the ultrasound that I don’t remember.

Even with reduced chances your sister might prefer to try with you because of your genetic bond, which I completely understand. Plus, saving around $7k, give or take a few thousand, unless it is covered in your health system, or possibly less expensive than the US.

augustlan's avatar

If, after listening long and hard to what my daughter had to say, I wasn’t convinced her reason for being upset about it was a sound one, I would probably still donate the eggs. Of course, I would tell her that her feelings on it matter to me, and reassure her that I love her, but I’d let her know that in the end the choice would be mine, and that I had to do what I thought was right.

JLeslie's avatar

I was thinking how this reminds me of an article I read that was about “older” women giving up children for adoption. The single woman featured in the article had 3 kids and became pregnant by accident and decided to give up the baby, because the finanancial burden and her ability to care for a new baby was too much. My first reaction was being pretty upset that siblings, although this technically would be a half sibling, would be split up. When children need to be fostered or adopted out I think many of us are upset when sibs are split up. The article did not even mention the other children, which I found very odd, it just centered on the mother.

Since the egg is intended for the purpose of someone else’s pregnancy then I guess it is viewed differently, especially since you are not carrying the baby. But, it doesn’t seem odd to me at all that some people would be uncomfortable.

I would bet your daughter would be fine with you carrying a baby for your sister that was not genetically yours, it is because it is your genetic material she is freaked out. There is a huge difference to me also.

zenvelo's avatar

I keep coming back to the question of why does a child have such control over the acts and decisions of a parent? Even at 16, her opinion may be sought, but it is in no way her decision nor does the daughter have any right to input into the decision.

Would the daughter have the right to decide if the mother were to get pregnant? Could she be the one deciding “you should get an abortion” or “you should carry to term” ?

I don’t give my children control over my decisions. I can ask their opinion, but it is my decision, not my kids’.

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