Who knew that earlier in the week when I put up a post on a really interesting adoption study by the Evan B. Donaldson Institute and called it “Part 1” it would take so long to get around to Part 2? What can I say—many other stories intervened. But while I have a moment I’m going to try to get that Part 2 done. It would help at this point if you (and I) went back to read Part 1 and maybe even the post before that.
So my project here is to talk about the differences between adoption and use of third-party gametes. (If you go back you’ll see there’s a post about samenesses, too.) Part 1 considered differences from the point of view of the child–adopted or donor-conceived. Here I want to consider the point of view of the birth parents or the gamete providers. (I should note that there are other ways I could identify the people whose viewpoint I want to consider here. I could call them “genetic parents,” for example. Maybe this choice is important. I’m not sure and I want to move along, so I will note that it is a choice and keep going.)
It seems to me that the process by one decides to provide gametes for ART is quite different from the process by which one decides to give a child up for adoption. I know from this blog that some people think about giving up gametes as the equivalent of giving up a child. If you are one of those people (and if you know you are one of those people) then maybe you do think about this as a time you might give up a child. But at least you consider this at a time (preconception) that no child exists. Thus, you can decide not to create a child and thus, not to allow someone else to raise that child.
If you are a person that does not think of giving up gametes as the equivalent of giving up a child, then that changes how you approach the decision, but the core point above is still true. You make the decision at a time when you can freely decide not to give up your gametes.
I realize that people might be quite tempted by and/or need the money that is offered for gametes. But the payment is hardly immediate. Thus, if you have an immediate need to pay the rent, say, selling your gametes isn’t going to help you. Actually the money (which it is legitimate to pay to gamete providers in the US) is another difference. At least if the law is followed, people aren’t paid to offer a child for adoption.
By contrast, consider the position of a woman who is pregnant and is considering giving up the baby for adoption. Unless the pregnancy terminates, she will be giving birth. The timeframe is pretty well set. And there is a child, on the way, created with her gametes. She can choose to raise the child or not, but (assuming she doesn’t elect abortion) she cannot choose to have the child not exist.
What this reflects is that the woman contemplating giving her child up for adoption didn’t mean to be involved in the process of procreation. She didn’t intend to get pregnant. She didn’t intend for any child with her gametes to exist at all. (I think it safe to say that adoption is rarely if ever the end result of a planned pregnancy.) By contrast the woman who provides gametes is choosing to be part of a process of procreation with the understanding that she will not be raising the resulting child.
So the egg provider chooses to assist in procreation knowing she won’t raise the child while the birth mother doesn’t choose to procreate but must choose between raising a child or giving the child up. I think for many people these decisions will seem fundamentally different.
I don’t want this to get too cluttered with other observations just at the moment, so I will stop here for now. Suffice it to say, I think the experience of being an egg provider can be quite different from the experience of giving a child up for adoption.