Somewhere out there in the world, there is a man with Lysander’s big blue eyes. I know this because I have seen a photograph of him when he was a little younger than Olympia and Embla are now, and those eyes are all his donor’s. When he was small, he shared my daughter’s little button nose. Olympia’s Scandinavian pallor? That didn’t come from me. But the set of her jaw and that glint in her eye is all mine.
It is funny how nature and nurture both have their own part to play in the growing and raising of children. Our children are not related to Kirsty at all and yet her influence in their lives is written all over them; their expressions and mannerisms are all theirs, as are the things that they say and the very way in which they say them. Once, I thought it was sad that Kirsty would never have biological children, never see her face reflected in a small person. Now, I know that biology is such a small part of what makes a family a family, that a child can be one hundred per cent your own without sharing any of their genetics. I know that sperm and zygote makes a child a child, but sperm and zygote is not what makes a child your child. You are.
They may not share her freckles, her nose and the shape of her lips, but they share her smile, her kindness and her creativity. And they are one hundred per cent hers.
Families become families in so many different ways, and that is so beautiful to me.
Growing Generations asked me to talk with you about egg donation today. Everybody knows about sperm donation, it seems, but not so many people know that egg donation is possible. It involves one woman donating her eggs, which are fertilised externally of the body and grown into embryos, then transferred to the recipient’s uterus as though the eggs had been her own all along – thus, the recipient gestates the pregnancy rather than as in a surrogacy situation, where one woman gestates a child for another.
It’s a little complicated so explain, so Growing Generations produced this infographic to illustrate the process visually.
My friend Victoria recently welcomed a beautiful son by way of egg donation. And my gorgeous friend Jules is still waiting, but I know that her time will come. Egg donation is meaningful to me also for a personal reason, of which I can’t yet speak – it’s not my story to tell. I wish that egg donation was more widely publicised; it is one of those things that people don’t talk about very much, and yet it is highly relevant for so many people. And what a gift to be able to grant – the gift of life, the gift of the microscopic beginnings of a child. What a gift to receive!
Every family should be able to expand, regardless of its make-up. Single parents, two-mum families, two-dad families, women who do not produce their own eggs for whatever reason – they all have so much love to give, so much potential to realise. I am so grateful to live in this day and age, where ‘family’ doesn’t mean one father, one mother and a handful of kids. And I am so grateful to our own donor, without whom our children wouldn’t exist.
Love makes a family, but sperm, eggs and a functional uterus make a baby – and I’m so glad that science and kindness mean that children are an option for all.
If you are interested in IVF, egg donation or surrogacy, the Growing Generations website is a useful resource with plenty of information about the options that are available for expanding a family.
Many thanks to Growing Generations for sponsoring this post and for providing the infographic.