The secret-keeping begins: Hiding our donor

DH and I live in relative isolation out here in this water-town, busy as hell, and we see our Brooklyn/NYC friends rarely. We had a couple out last weekend, but I know the woman from my Resolve group, and we tell each other everything (and she reads this blog) so of course secret-keeping was out of the question. But DH has been very clear with me that he does not want to tell most people that we have an egg donor. My parents, the friends I’ve made through support groups, and my dear friend in Wyoming (whose children were conceived using a sperm donor)—he is okay with all of them knowing. And now I’ve “come out” to my boss (in addition to my co-worker), which he is also okay with, since he knows I’ve had to explain so much in order to get the time off I need (and to explain the time off I’ve already taken).

But I have a friend from social work school coming to visit this weekend, and I know he will definitely not want me to tell her. I get it: He is uncomfortable telling people the biological origins of our kids before our kids themselves know their origins.  I’m sure I would appreciate that discretion if I were a child conceived via egg donation.

In any case, I understand the benefits of being discrete—I certainly don’t want to violate my unborn children’s privacy in any way…

But holy hell, I so want to talk to my friends about what I am going through! My social-work friend is coming Saturday and staying the night, and I would love to spend that time filling her in on this entire experience—particularly what it was like to choose a donor. You know how satisfying it can be to process these sorts of things out loud with a good girlfriend. But instead, I’ll have to give some curtailed version of what I’m experiencing right now, and I’m not even sure of the script yet. Perhaps I’ll say, vaguely, “We’re trying another fertility treatment—we’ll see what happens!” Maybe I’ll say we’re trying IVF again. It’s going to be difficult to leave out the details—the very details that I want to talk about most of all.

I also have the urge to write about this experience for publication—I have countless article and essay ideas. I suppose I will have to choose a pseudonym, if I do that, at least until our kids are old enough for us to tell them their origins.

It all feels so unnatural to me. I’m not much of a secret-keeper. As you might have noticed, I like to tell it like it is, and tell it all. I like to process and connect, I like to reveal what is raw and real, especially when I feel that it serves my psychological and emotional growth. But perhaps this will be my first lesson in sacrificing my own needs in honor of the needs of my husband, and my future family.

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  1. So, I know each family is different and makes their own decision. But kind of like with adoption, I think truth telling from the beginning normalizes things so much more. For both our friends and relatives and the children. If you have a child and everyone knows and he or she knows-no big deal-just another way to make a family. But if you keep it a secret and tell the child after he or she is older and it is a big secret from everyone, won’t it make it feel shameful? I know it’s hard to work out what’s best so take my two cents with a grain if salt because I’m not in your same situation. Best of luck however you decide to share or not!

    • I’m not sure I follow the logic of how that would make it feel shameful to the child—we were thinking it would be more respectful to the child, for the reasons I described, if they find out at the same time other people do, I’m not sure what age exactly, but my friend waited until her kids were seven—she felt that was when they could comprehend it and make sense of it. At that point, they told friends (like me) and their children were part of that. It was actually kind of lovely, and although the kids had complicated emotions, she thinks it helped that they had not told everyone else before telling the kids themselves, that if they had it would have made the kids feel like everyone was in on something personal about them before they themselves knew. I don’t know if we’ll wait until the kids are seven—that seems a little old to me, but then again, I’ve never experienced the growth and development of children and perhaps we’ll just get a sense of when the time is right, whether that’s three years old or four or later. In addition to all of this, my husband is a much more private person than I am, and I have to respect that. So yeah, every situation is different and I wouldn’t assume what would make another person’s child feel shame, you know?

      • Absolutely. And maybe I misunderstood, because I was thinking it would remain a secret the child has to keep. That was where I felt secrets could be harmful as I’ve known some people who found out very late about things like adoption who felt it was kept a secret because there was somehow something wrong with it. No offense meant at all. Just thinking of those situations.

  2. No, I realize that my writing might not have been clear and I might have assumed people had read my past posts about this—after I thought about it some it freaked me out a little that I might have put a misconception out there, so the comment was really helpful in bringing that lack of clarity to my attention! Whew. This stuff is so difficult to write about clearly, I’m finding. But it’s new territory. No offense taken!

  3. I am completely with you on this. I am not a secret keeper, and I talk thing out in order to process them. That doesn’t mean I go around telling the whole world everything, but I do talk to a few close friends who are interested in knowing and providing an ear and excitement and comfort and whatever else I happen to need at the moment. I also understand your husband’s concerns, though. Being the last to learn this kind of thing might potentially be upsetting to a child. But I also think that the people who you all choose to tell will be the types of people who are so loving and accepting of your decision and the process that this future child/children will feel normal and welcomed and loved by the lot of you. Truthfully, either way, I think your little ones are going to be just fine. :) You just have to choose what feel MOST right for the both of you. Most right now. And I’ll bet that whatever decision you guys make on this week, it’ll feel like the right one down the line.

    • Thanks, Lentil! You’re so sweet, I deeply appreciate your support in all things. We did not end up disclosing to this particular friend, and it did feel right—you’re right! (: I imagine that with this, as in all of this, what to do and when will unfold organically. Love & acceptance will abound in the hearts of our family and friends, no matter what, how, or when.


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