I’ve been blogging on infertility issues for quite some time now, and while I often see a unique take on an issue, it is seldom that I hear a brand new topic. That changed a couple of weeks ago with a comment on “Will You Tell Family & Friends You Used Egg Or Sperm Donation“. I’m kind of embarrassed to say that I hadn’t thought about this issue before. I’m still mulling it over, and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Egg Donation/Sperm Donation: Problems when only one parent is genetically related?
When using either donor egg or donor sperm, is it better for neither parent to be genetically related to the child vs. only one parent having a genetic connection. What is best for the child?

If Not One, Then Neither

Someone had commented that he and his wife had agreed that if only one of them could be genetically related to their child, they would go with an infertility treatment option in which neither of them would be related. Specifically, if they had to use donor sperm in order to conceive via in vitro fertilization, they would use both donor egg and donor sperm so that they would both have an equal genetic connection (or lack thereof) to the child.

I have heard this before. In fact, when I consult with couples considering either egg donation or sperm donation with IVF, I encourage them to think about and discuss the issue that one of them would have a genetic connection while the other would not. This is neither bad nor good, but worthy of discussion when the option of egg or sperm donation is being considered. After this discussion some couples opt for using both donated egg and sperm to “equal things out”, while others go with only one donated gamete, but with an awareness of potential potholes (or puddles) of non-shared genetics.

What’s Best for the Child?

In the discussion in the comments to the blog on telling friends and family that your child was conceived with donor egg or sperm, an adult adoptee suggested that deciding for neither of the parents to have a genetic connection if one could not, may not be in the best interest of the child.

Perhaps the conversation I’m envisaging is thus:

Parent: Now dear, you were conceived by donor egg and sperm.

Child: Were both of you infertile?

P: No, only dad was but we didn’t think it was fair on you if one of us was biologically related and one wasn’t, so we decided to do it so that none of us was biologically related.

C: I see. So you mean instead of me not knowing half of my biological, I now know none of it – I can see how that is fair on me. Do I get to find out anything about my biological roots?

P: Well we have some information but the donations were anonymous so you’ll never really know anything about your biological roots. But we did it for you.

Can you perhaps see why a child might be skeptical that it was done for them?

Hummm, food for thought to be sure. I understand that only one parent being biologically related to the child could pose a problem for some couples. Parents for whom biology is very important might feel an imbalance in their relationship to the child. While this feeling is not in the best interest of the child, the commenter has a point that it is a decision being made fundamentally for the parent, not the child.

I preach all the time that our first thought in all decisions in family building should be what is in the best interest of the child. Not sure how to think on this one. I’d love your feedback while I ponder. 


Image credit:  Tampa Band Photos