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Being an egg donor often comes with family, friends and complete strangers having preconceived ideas, notions, and stigmas around what an egg donor and egg donation is. As sensitive as some of these people may try to be, there are many who seem to not understand how tactless or offensive their remarks are. It’s easy to see why many egg donors bond together in their shared experience, as sometimes even our loved ones fall short on words of support or understanding during such a journey. Although each person you disclose to will be individual in their reaction or opinion, there are certainly some things that shouldn’t be asked or said.

 

What If You Get Cancer?

Although egg donation is not without its own defined risks, there is no evidence to support that egg donation is the cause or correlated to cancer.  Donors are required to complete thorough medical screening and are fully informed of all potential risks throughout the process.   To imply that a donor has not contemplated and weighed these disadvantages carefully is negating their ability to provide informed consent and their own bodily autonomy. Not only is the use of the ‘c-word’ exaggerated not based in fact, it’s also an extreme overreaction. Care and concern for your loved one are understandable, but please use tact when discussing potential risks or health-related worries.

 

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How Much Are You Getting Paid to Donate Your Eggs?

In Canada, egg donation is altruistic. Although you are fairly compensated for out-of-pocket costs in relation to things such as medications, travel, loss of pay and other related expenses, you are reimbursed and not “paid” for your donation. Regardless of how the reimbursement works, egg donors donate for a wide variety of reasons, the least of which is financial.  Some wish to be the reason someone is able to begin a family. Some wish to give back to the world in a large way. Others have reasons that are quite personal or private. Unless a donor offers to share information in regard to financial reimbursement or reasons for donation, it’s an impolite inquiry at best and an outright invasion of privacy at worst.

 

Ugh – Isn’t the World Overpopulated as Is?

And if it isn’t the ‘overpopulation’ argument, it’s often, “but there are so many children that need to be adopted.”   These reasonings are simplistic, short-sighted and offensive to the individuals involved in an egg donation/surrogacy journey.  Adoption, although a valued and successful option for many people, is not without its own challenges.  Cost, timelines, and invasive scrutiny are just a few of the obstacles intended parents face.  Any challenges are then magnified for single parents by choice, LGBTQ+ folks, or otherwise marginalized peoples.   Advances in reproductive health and technologies have made it possible for many different choices and routes to the same final destination: parenthood!  As family and friends, we should love, trust and support our loved ones to make the decision that is the best fit for them and their lives.  As strangers, we should mind our own business.

 

But How Can You Just Give Away Your Own Flesh And Blood?

Many questions asked are genuinely from a place of interest or curiosity, but the way in which we form these questions can cause offense or can be perceived as judgmental or shaming of the individual.  Again, an egg donor does not come to the decision to donate eggs on a whim.  It is a choice that is arrived at through careful contemplation, research, inquiry and soul-searching.  To insinuate that a donor is being callous with their own offspring or child is both very harmful and unfair.   Eggs are not thought of or perceived as a child.  They’re one half of the equation in the creation of a much-desired baby.  Egg donors often have the opportunity to form bonds and/or a relationship with the intended parents, and to share in news of the outcome of their generous gift.  Giving the gift of family is far from heartless, cold or uncaring, so please don’t imply otherwise.

 

Well, That’s Just Strange…

While egg donation and surrogacy may not be the “normal” route to a child and family, no one should ever be made to feel like their life choices are wrong, abnormal or deviant, when they’re far from harmful.  Comments expressing such only serve to further the stigma, shame and implied judgment around egg donors and donations.  It may not be the path of choice for you in your life, but never should you make another person, particularly a loved one, feel as though their choices aren’t valid or supported.  If egg donation or donors are a foreign concept in your world, use this opportunity to learn more about a subject previously unknown to you.  Politely ask questions and be sure to center the donor in the conversation – their choices and experiences are the only ones important in the conversation, and your ability to listen and empathize will further strengthen your relationship with the donor.  The use of open-ended questions and statements prevent the unintentional implications of shaming or judging and keep in mind that the more these taboo subjects are discussed and understood, the more progress we make in normalizing the various paths to parenthood and the creation of family.

 

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