This week my DH and I finally agreed on an egg donor, and it was no small victory. After initially being very unsure as to what to look for, I finally settled on the coffee test. Someone suggested to me to find someone that I would enjoy having a cup of coffee with, and I really liked that idea, because I love the idea of connection. Of course in this country egg donation is anonymous by law, and the way things stand, our possible potential child/ren will never be able to contact her under any circumstances, including mutual consent. So the coffee date is unlikely to ever happen, but it’s not impossible. DH on the other hand, was more interested in how the donor looked and so we needed to find someone that fit the bill on both counts. Working out how someone looks from amateur and badly lit baby photos (it is illegal here for us to see an adult photo of her) is not easy. And, there were some err… disagreements to put it lightly. Since she is “representing” me genetically, I guess I felt that I had a bigger say over who we chose, and somehow got it into my head that my husband wasn’t really bothered about it – that was until I found my perfect donor and arrogantly said something to the effect of “look I found a donor, quickly see if you like her and we can book her”. Fail.
Some door slamming and general nastiness ensued. Of course, by this point, after looking at 350 million donor profiles and finally finding The One, I wasn’t going to let up very easily. And of course, at that point any of the 350 million other donors was a better option to my husband than My One. But we decided to persist. We decided that we would look at donor profiles every night for the rest of our lives until we found one we both liked, if that’s what it took. Once we got over ourselves, and I relinquished my obsession with The One, it actually started to go a lot more smoothly. We eventually narrowed it down to four. Two of them were not available until next year, and we decided on the remaining ones after consulting the agency (who can see adult photos of them and us) who advised us on which one looked the most like me. Turns out after all that, it was the same One. Happy Face. We were asked to write her a letter, and luckily we have an adoption profile in our back pockets, so we managed to summarise that into 2 pages in about an hour.
So, that’s where we are. In fact it’s been almost too easy so far. I feel, well, a little guilty to be honest. With the adoption process I felt nearly called to it. Like my whole life’s purpose was about to culminate in this miraculous process that would make the suffering of my infertility worth it. It was going to make sense, and everything I had been through would be justified by the moment of The Phone Call. I actually wanted adoption before I knew I was infertile, I spoke about it to my friends often. And I still want adoption. Recently I’ve been questioning exactly why.
Adoption is definitely more socially acceptable than egg donation. Adoption is seen as an act of charity, of rescue, and of selflessness. And to some degree, adoption is seen as the duty of the infertile. In truth however, adoption is an act of parenthood. Yes, it is selfless in as much as parenthood is selfless. And yes, an adopted child in some circumstances is being rescued from a life of abject poverty, although not always. But no, adoption is not the duty of the infertile woman any more than it is the duty of the fertile woman. For many years, I realised, I had been carrying on my shoulders a guilty sadness about the 2 million adoptable South African children who needed a loving home. I felt like I could make a difference by adopting, but there was always a gap between my idea of parenting and my idea of “rescuing” one of those children. The gap, I’m ashamed to say, was and still is, race.
In my mind, I have no problem “rescuing” a child of another race. But in the same mind, I the only picture I have of actual parenting, is of a child of the same race. When I ask myself why, the answer I get is very simply that it’s easy. With a child of the same race, we wouldn’t have adoption pasted all over our family everywhere we went. We could just exist. We wouldn’t have to face unwanted questions and stares at inopportune moments from complete strangers. And I frequently wonder what it is about me, that makes me want to live under the radar like that instead of standing up for a little child’s life. There’s an answer to that too. I’ve had enough. I’ve fought like a dog for the past 7 years to become a parent and it’s time for things to become easy. I want easy, and I want simple and I want parenthood.
And that is what this donor process is. We are the ones doing the choosing, no more sitting and waiting for someone to take pity on our painstakingly created 18 month old adoption profile. There’s nothing else mixed up in this for me, no need to rescue, no need to make a difference. I want to be a mom without also having to fix the problems created by an inequitable society. And I won’t be ashamed of it, and I won’t make excuses for it, and I won’t pretend that I did anything other than an egg donor cycle.