This story is from yesterday’s New York Times–from Sports Monday, to be more precise. There’s a few reasons why I thought it was worthy of note, even if it isn’t earth-shattering.
The story is part of a series about women athletes and how they manage pregnancy and child-rearing. It’s an interesting topic.
The process of pregnancy is one that disrupts the kind of physical training required of top-flight athletes. Further, in many sports, the years of athletic prime coincide with prime child-bearing years. This obviously necessitates some difficult choices for female athletes. At the risk of stating the obvious, the same is not the case for male athletes. Hence, the focus of the series.
The series, though, is not only about pregnancy, but also about child-rearing. It may be that child-rearing, too, is disruptive of athletic careers–both take a lot of time and focus. But there’s no biological reason why these issues would be different for male and female athletes. To the extent the choices facing male and female athletes are different, the difference illustrates the social/cultural difference between being a mother and being a father. Additionally, male professional athletes have integrated parenthood into their lives for many years. Female professional athletes, being a newer breed, are just establishing these roles.
But this particular article is interesting for a couple of other reasons. First, the focus of the story is a lesbian family–two women raising children together. What’s remarkable about that is precisely how unremarkable that is. It is important to the story only because Gigi Fernandez and Jane Geddes were barred from adoption because they were lesbians. (Florida does not permit adoption by lesbians and gay men, though this ban is under attack in the courts.) It’s the inability to adopt that lead the women to the use of ART.
Which brings me to the final interesting point: It turned out that Fernandez and Geddes needed to use eggs from a third-party. While lesbians couples seeking to have children obviously need sperm from a third-party, it’s usual for the eggs to come from one of the two women. But this wasn’t possible here. And so this is what I think is a relatively unusual case of lesbians using an egg donor.
This is also an instance in which I think it is fair to describe the person as an egg donor rather than an egg provider: Monika Kosc was a friend of the women and offered them her eggs. Using those eggs and donor sperm, Fernandez become pregnant via IVF. Twins were born in April, 2009.
Since Monika Kosc was and is a friend, she continues to play a role in the lives of the children conceived using her eggs. She’s a frequent visitor to Fernandez and Geddes’ home and answers to the name of “Auntie.”
Since the twins are only one-and-a-half I doubt anyone’s talked to them about the configuration of their family. Obviously lots of questions lie ahead. Will they know their auntie is genetically related to them? What and when will they learn about source of the sperm? Fernandez and Geddes will find their way through the maze of questions one step at a time.