Being a college student and having to upkeep my costs of living, there have been times when I considered donating* my “eggs.” Technically, it’s more like selling the eggs since contributors’ “compensation amount ranges from $5,000 to $10,000” (www.eggdonor.com). I’m not in dire need currently, but neither am I completely stripped from fear of falling into a destitute state. Even then, I have resolved, I will not sell/donate my eggs for the birthing of another human being. Here are some of my reasons:
1) There are a lot of children who need loving homes out there. According to the 2012 AFCARS Report, nearly 400,000 individuals are in foster care and more than 100,000 are waiting to be adopted. These youth in most cases are introduced into the system by no fault of their own. They are as deserving of loving homes as any child and the government provides many desirable incentives and resources for these disadvantaged kids including: free college education, free health care, supplement to income and even tax breaks, if applicable (www.foreverfamily.org). Also most importantly, to me due to its implied effects on poverty rates, “It is common for children in foster care to age out, leaving them with little financial or emotional support. 27,000 children age out of the system every year” (www.sos-usa.org).
2) This process propagates racial exclusivity.
My academic experience has led me to see how ingrained in our society race is, despite being socially constructed. How much you are capable of earning through donation depends on your race. For instance, “Clinic operators say the premium [$10,000 to $20,000, $10,000 being the industry limit] paid to Asian women reflects the shortage of willing donors for the growing numbers of infertile Asian couples who want a child who looks like they do” (Li S., LA Times). Maybe a year ago, when the idea of donating my Korean eggs first entered my mind, I believed that this was quite lucrative and a great way to make ends meet while focusing more on school. First of all, I am of two worlds (Asian but ethnically Hispanic) and that probably shaped my perspective. My gain lies in one end, but my solidarity lies in the other. Why should certain races (in the form of eggs) be worth more than others? [Note: I am aware of the concept of supply and demand and it’s effect on prices] Why can’t parents love their child of whatever color? We need to learn how to really see beyond skin tone, eye shape, or even level of attractiveness/intelligence. Finding a child to love and care for should extend beyond the idea of personal status gain. Parents love children with more natural talents or physical attractiveness, but it is not impossible to love a child for their propensity to love, to try, and to seek happiness.
3) $10,000 could do greater good helping a child invited into your home through the foster care system (at little to no cost).
So… Here I am trying my best to complete an expensive degree and people are dumping thousands of dollars on the CHANCE of making a baby in the color they want. There are so many kids who could benefit from parents who have that kind of money and who have the time to raise them. I find it absolutely absurd that there is a system in place where you can help nurture a child and the state PAYS YOU and people would rather make babies because people are supposed to pass on their genes. For a long time I have and still believe that we should be able to love anybody, the only thing that makes them separate and foreign are the preconceptions of our minds and the emotional boundaries that are raised. I also believe that it is not the propagation of self that we should be so concerned about, but with the propagation of love. It can be difficult but not impossible.
*Disclaimer: Based on the fact that I am only 5’0″ tall, the chances of my eggs being THAT desirable are low, but my average looks, Asian genes and university attendance would have contributed to a hefty payout all the same.
It is not guaranteed that every child in foster care will be available for adoption and it can take years of jumping through heartbreaking hoops to finalize a permanent placement. So, although I’ve experienced years of the inability to start a family (and multiple miscarriages, I might add) now I should happily invite children into my home who may not get to stay so that my husband and I can continue to experience more loss and waiting? I should try to create bonds with children who may return to an uncertain future with an unstable family? Children who have experienced trauma and may not trust me for a long time? And because I’m infertile, I (and people like me) should be responsible for resolving society’s ills, rather than trying to form our families the way that we choose?
How about proposing reform of the foster care system, to make it easier to adopt from there? How about suggesting to fertile couples that they consider adopting from foster care instead of placing the burden on those of us who struggle to start our families? Frankly, if we get to the point of using IVF with donor eggs and that doesn’t work either, we’ll be looking at private adoption. There’s much less emotional risk involved for us (although that path is also neither easy nor guaranteed).
Full disclosure–I’m a black woman. I agree that greater value shouldn’t be placed on egg donors (or adoptable children) of certain races. But transracial parenting isn’t as simple as you would like to paint it. There are a quagmire of issues that occur for children of color who are raised in white homes. Most of those parents do love their children “beyond color”. But should people who are considering parenting a child of a different race consider the lifelong impacts they may have on their children? Absolutely. Do people with white privilege know how to teach children of color to live in a racist world? I’m not really sure that they do. I’m not suggesting that transracial parenting shouldn’t happen, but I’m cognizant of the many reasons why it shouldn’t be approached by just anyone.
I really appreciate your feedback and description of your personal struggles. I am still quite young and haven’t met peers with those same struggles in adoption or IVF. This piece is my reasoning for not entering into the IVF market, for why I (despite being fertile) will adopt children when I am ready, and my attempt at raising awareness. I definitely need to do more research on the foster care system, so thank you for bringing that to my attention.
The job markets and the structural society we live in is a harsh enough place that I believe in improving those first to be a greater goal prior to propagation. For many forming biological families is a dream, but to me it is just as important to form ties and “families” with our peers so I am not so eager to raise children when I see EVERYBODY struggle. I walk by homeless people every day, by students that might be contemplating suicide, by co-workers who should be retired but can’t afford to, so when I propose adoption first (even from a naive foundation) it is not to condemn IVF, it is to encourage all people to do so. I want this to be a better world for as many people as possible before introducing “new” people into this madness.