Sunday, February 27, 2005

Books on donor egg

I have found relatively few books that deal exclusively with egg donation. In my list, I'm also including books of a more general nature if they have significant content devoted to egg donation or to the related treatment of donor insemination.

Please post if you know of another book that belongs on this list, or if you have comments on these books.

Mommy, Was Your Tummy Big?

Looks like a darling children's book! Can't wait to get it.

Having Your Baby Through Egg Donation

According to the publisher, the book "answers questions about age and pregnancy and parenting, about talking to children about their donor conception, about ethical and religious questions, about honesty vs. secrecy, about communicating with a parenting partner, and more in a compassionate, fully informed manner. Vignettes describing the decision-making and experience of others who have traveled this road to parenthood expand and exemplify research and philosophical resources.... It addresses such questions as: 'Should we choose adoption or egg donation?' and 'Should I ask my sister to donate and if so, how do I raise the subject with her?' and 'How do I evaluate a recruited-donor program?' I think it sounds like a winner.

Rewinding Your Biological Clock: Motherhood Late in Life : Options, Issues, and Emotions

Although I haven't read this book, from what is stated on Amazon it appears to be much more specific than what is indicated in the title. It includes technical information about assisted reproductive technologies (ART) as used in donor egg, interspersed with the fictional account of "Sarah," a 48-year-old woman who wants to have a child. Within this fictional account, some of the emotional and social issues surrounding DE are explored.

The book provides a broad overview of how menopausal or perimenopausal women can give birth, and devotes a final chapter to ethical issues. Reviews on Amazon are generally good, although one reviewer commented on the lack of coverage about the difficulty of Lupron downregulation therapy. I think I'll get this one. Thanks to Wessel for pointing me to this title!

Building Your Family Through Egg Donation: What You Will Want to Know About the Emotional Aspects : Including Disclosure vs. Secrecy and Guidelines for Telling Your Children

I highly recommend this booklet and its supplement, if you can get them. The booklet is no longer available through Amazon. I was lucky enough to obtain a copy directly from Dr. Friedeman, who met with me and my husband to evaluate our readiness to become donor egg parents. The booklet was first published in 1996, and Dr. Friedeman has also written a second pamphlet titled "Up-date on: 'Building Your Family Through Egg Donation.'" In that pamphlet is noted: "JOLANCE press books available through Baker and Taylor Books, selected bookstores or

When her book was first written, Dr. Friedman had worked with approximately 150 prospective egg donor families, allowing her a unique insight into the concerns we have in common. Her book is sensitively written and adorably illustrated by her daughters. The first chapter is on egg donor recipients, with topics such as "What general questions do most prospective ovum donor families ask?" and "What are they most concerned about?" A second chapter covers "Psychological screening and assessment of egg donors," with topics "Directed (or related) donors" and "Anonymous donors." Other chapters cover stress, cryopreservation of embryos, and DE parents' concerns about bonding with their babies. A favorite part of the book for me was the chapter on bonding, where Dr. Friedeman concludes, "In my experience, the bonding of egg donor parents to their child is as heartfelt as it would be in any well-planned, fully biogenetic pregnancy."

A significant chapter covers disclosure, privacy, and secrecy issues, followed by a unique section titled "The gift." This section contains Dr. Friedeman's ideas on how parents favoring disclosure can share their egg donation origins with their children at different ages. This section was written in response to multiple requests from families who wanted tangible guidelines.

One of the strengths of Dr. Friedeman's work is her fair treatment of both sides of the "tell" and "don't tell" debate. She presents the main reasons stated to her by parents who are in favor of disclosure (the rights of the child to know his or her origins and the dangers of family secrets) as well as those who favor non-disclosure (concern for psychological harm to the child and the privacy rights of parents).

However, "don't tell" parents should know that Dr. Friedeman's update summarizes recent publications by RESOLVE, ASRM and others that are more in favor of disclosure. She relates that in 14 years as a consultant to fertility programs, she has met with thousands of couples and the number of couples planning to disclose is increasing compared with 10 years ago, to about 80% today. She notes, however, that many couples may be stating they will disclose because they believe it's the "right" answer to give in their evaluations, when in fact they may be planning secrecy. Dr. Friedeman acknowledges that to date, few children from egg donation have been interviewed to assess their feelings about their origins, and that much more research is needed in this area. I highly recommend these booklets. They are the next best thing to sitting down and talking directly to DE parents.

Experiences of Donor Conception: Parents, Offspring, and Donors Through the Years

Lorbach is mother to three children conceived using donor sperm, and works with the Donor Conception Support group of Australia. Her writing style is informal, interspersing her own commentary and summaries with quotes from parents who have used donor insemination, donor egg, or donor embryo. Her book draws on the experiences of 94 parents from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom to tell the story of donor conception. Chapters include: Male Infertility; Women's Infertility; Making the Decision to Use Donor Conception; Choosing a Donor; Donors; Telling Others; Treatment, Pregnancy, and Birth; To Tell or Not to Tell; Telling Our Children; After the Telling; Discussion with Donor Offspring; and Thoughts and Experiences of Donor Offspring.

When I was making the decision to use donor egg, this book was invaluable. In one way or another, it covered every issue that plagued me. Granted, it draws mainly on the experiences of couples using donor insemination. But because many of the social and psychological issues are identical between DI and DE, the book was right on target in many areas. In addition, it gave me what I had found nowhere else: The experiences of the children.

By definition, of course, Lorbach recounts the stories of children who know their biological origins, and that leads to my main criticism of the book: It is far from even-handed in its treatment of the "tell / don't tell" debate. The chapter "To Tell or Not to Tell" is heavily slanted toward the "tell" camp and awards only two paragraphs to parents who believe it is best for children not to know their method of conception. The book would have been much improved if the author had tried to locate parents who made this choice. She writes, "I have never spoken to a parent who was 100 percent sure about keeping the truth of donor conception from their child."

This is likely true, since parents who have decided not to disclose and are comfortable with and committed to their choice, are less likely to join an organization such as the Donor Conception Support group. Still, if you can get past Lorbach's bias in this area, the book excels in recounting the personal experiences of those who've used donor conception. My husband and I read the book separately and then discussed it. Our talks on this book allowed us to resolve most of the concerns we had about using donor egg.

Confessions of a Serial Egg Donor

I haven't read this one, but I probably will. Besides the roadkill fascination of a confessional and the blog-like insouciance of chapter titles such as "Laying Eggs," this book offers a serious point for consideration to prospective DE mothers: How much responsibility do we have toward these young women who offer us their eggs? The book rightly points out that the provision of eggs to we desperate masses has become a highly profitable industry -- an unregulated one, rife with the potential for abuse of both egg donors and egg recipients by unscrupulous clinics, agencies, and sinister "brokers" such as Derek's Ruth.

I nearly fainted with horror when I read in product reviews that as an impoverished college student, Julia Derek somehow managed to get a doctor to take eggs from her twelve times, to the point where her body started shutting down. As a future donor egg recipient, I'd like to believe -- and my clinic assures me -- that my donor is mainly motivated by the desire to help women like me, and that the money she'll receive is welcome but is no more than a fair compensation for her time, discomfort, and risk. Based on my clinic's policy of allowing a donor to participate no more than five times, and the fact that the fee my donor will receive is modest compared to others I've read about, I am confident that I am in no way taking advantage of this generous woman. Yet in reaching this conclusion, I'm completely at the mercy of my clinic and of the donor herself for the information they provide.

Derek's story does remind me of the extreme youth and economic vulnerability of some of these donors. At the ripe old age of 40, I find myself saying of any 21-year-old, regardless of her legal status or her maturity: She's just a baby. And she's someone's baby girl. We owe it to ourselves as future mothers to do whatever is in our power to ensure that our clinic's or agency's policies are sound and are being followed; and that our donor is someone who, while she might welcome the fee, is not wholly motivated by greed or--somehow worse--by need in making her gift to us.

Choosing Assisted Reproduction: Social, Emotional & Ethical Considerations

According to editorial reviews, this book covers the "medical, legal, ethical, and psychological implications of assisted reproductive technology (ART)." The first part of the book is devoted to treatments with one's own eggs, while the second part concerns third-party parenting options such as sperm donation, ovum donation, surrogacy, gestational care, and embryo donation. Apparently, the authors "provide guidelines and suggestions for openness with children born as a result of ART, strongly urging truth concerning genetic origins." Chapter Six is devoted exclusively to Ovum Donation, but based on the list of topics, it seems to cover the same ground as Glazer's new book, cited first in this article. I'll probably get this one at some point.

New Ways of Making Babies: The Case of Egg Donation (Medical Ethics)

I'm not planning to buy this one due to its high price tag of $56.95. According to the product description, it "discusses ethical, legal, and policy issues surrounding egg donation and new reproductive technologies, describes procedures at four egg-donation centers in the U.S., and presents a report and recommendations on oocyte donation by the National Advisory Board on Ethics in Reproduction. It contains a series of essays by numerous experts, with titles such as "Moral Concerns about Institutionalized Gamete Donation" and "What is Wrong with Commodification?" Might be worthwhile reading if I can find it at a library.

Helping the Stork: The Choices and Challenges of Donor Insemination

As the title indicates, this book concerns donor insemination, but I'm putting it on my list because I think so many of the parental and privacy concerns would be similar, and because the book is quoted or referenced in many articles that I've read. I'm always interested in "stories from many families who share their insights and experiences," and in particular, I'd like to read Chapter 8, "Changing Families, Different Challenges."

Lethal Secrets: The Psychology of Donor Insemination
by Annette Baran and Reuban Pannor

I can't find a lot of information on this book other than one review posted on Amazon that states it "takes a long range look at donor insemination by interviewing donor offspring, donors and parents years after the fact." Apparently this book is strongly in favor of disclosure to donor offspring.

The following books may be helpful for parents who have decided to tell their children about their donor egg origins:

Flight of the Stork: What Children Think (And When About Sex and Family Building)

A book for parents (not children) about where children think babies come from, illustrated with interviews with children. Bernstein identifies six stages of mental development and illustrates how children think about reproductive issues at each stage. The book apparently contains some information on adoption and assisted reproduction. This sounds like good reading for parents who've decided to disclose their child's origins to the child and need help figuring out how to do that in a way that makes sense to a young child.

Sometimes It Takes Three to Make a Baby
by Kate Bourne

This book sounds like just what I'll be looking for in a few years to share with my child: "An illustrated guide for young childen, explaining in simple language the process of egg donation." However, it looks like it will be tough to find this book. Sources online indicate it can be purchased from Melbourne IVF.

Let Me Explain: A Story About Donor Insemination

A book for children in which a little girl explains how she was conceived through artificial insemination and that although she has genes from her mother and a donor, her dad is her father. Reviews posted on Amazon are not 100% positive, but since books of this kind are few I decided to list it.

How Babies and Families Are Made: There Is More Than One Way!

This book has good reviews at Amazon and covers various ways that families are made (artificial insemination, IVF, adoption, stepchildren, and more). It does not appear that egg donation is mentioned specifically.

Mommy Did I Grow in Your Tummy?: Where Some Babies Come from

This book is no longer available through Amazon and the only used copy lists for $145. A book list at the Donor Conception Support Group site describes it as: "simply and sensitively written to help parents explain to young children about the different ways babies may be conceived, including IVF, egg and sperm donation, and surrogacy. It is well illustrated, and also describes adoption in an easy to understand way."


Beth Gray said...

Got it, Wessel! That one sounds like it's really on target. Thanks for pointing me there.

Beth Gray said...

Hi Millie,

The only ones I actually own are the "Experiences of Donor Conception" and the booklets from Dr. Friedeman. I highly recommend those two IF you are not offended by a bias toward the "tell" side of the disclosure debate.

I'm going to get the top one on the list though -- that new one from Dr. Glazer. It doesn't come out until May. I'll update my review when it's out...


Anonymous said...

Hey there! Great to see your perspective on things. I am considering being a donor and have this burning question I'd love your reaction to.

The clinic I'm talking to only does anonymous donations, yet they want the donors' motivation to be altruistic, not monetary.

As a donor, my intentions WOULD be altruistic. Therefore, I'd like to know if all the shots and hormones and misery I would go through ACTUALLY did produce a successful pregnancy and healthy child. They won't even tell donors that. I wouldn't get a picture, nothing. They just expect me to take my check and get lost.

How does that jibe with altruistic intentions? That seems so empty to me. I'd love to be more personal and involved. I'd love an open donation even, maybe a visit at age 3 or something - with all the legal protection signed of course. I'd want no claim on a child, I just want the satisfaction of seeing the family I would have helped create.

But very few places will do that. But in YOUR eyes, is that so much to ask? Meaning, meeting your donor, sending them a Christmas card or two, and having coffee once, when the child is 3?

Thanks for your perspective.

Anonymous said...

Please tell Rachel (considering being a donor) to keep trying. Our program allows the amount of contact the couple receiving the egg donation, and the donor providing it, want to and agree to have. They say the commonest amount of contact is a card and photo on the baby's birthday every year. So Rachel would not be out in the dark, after her altruism. (If she's interested to know, it's "Exceptional Donors" in Oregon. This parenthetical addition does not need to be included in my post, if you edit the posts and are concerned that this looks like an ad.)

Anonymous said...

Hi, Bee!
I just found your Blog and it's great! I have a wonderful 3 year old son through egg donation. If you are looking for more DE books, I wrote and illustrated a children's book which explains the egg donation experience/process through a conversation between an elephant mother and child.
You can view the book at
I would be thrilled if you posted a link to it on your book list page.
I am hoping people will find the book useful and entertaining.

Anonymous said...

Read "Confessions." Poorly written, she attributes her clearly unrelated psychological problems to egg donation and fertility drugs. Slow-moving book, don't waste your time.

Anonymous said...

"Mommy, Was Your Tummy Big?" a picture book that helps explain the donor egg process to children can be read on my website:
and purchased on Amazon.

Anonymous said...

Rachel, I am 43 and will be using an anonymous donor ovule at a very successful clinic. To be frank, we would prefer to have furture access to the donor, not for us,but for the (hopefully)child. Just as you, I believe the child at some point will want to know who the ovule donor was. We are going to this "closed clinic" because of its success rate, and time to match donor to birth mother, but if I were not 43, maybe 40 I would definitely find a known-donor. Thank you for donating. Without women like you, I would not be able to have birth children. God bless and may all good things come your way through out your life!

Egg Donors said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Egg Donor said...

Just found your blog, and wanted to let you know you offer great insight on egg donation! I am currently blogging about my experience as an egg donor, and I can appreciate reading about a woman on the opposite end. Good luck to you!

Anonymous said...

Dr Seuss's Horton hatches the egg has a lot of similarities to donor egg--Horton takes care of the egg that is not biologically his, but the baby that hatches has many of Horton's qualities.

Anonymous said...

Happy Together, an egg donation story is a heartwarming book to help introduce the concept of egg donation to a young child.

For more information, please visit
The book can be purchased on Amazon

Thank you!