I am finally getting back to answer the questions asked in my delurking post. Please see the rules at the beginning of this post before continuing.
How important was it that the donor look like you? Were there certain characteristics you would have insisted on? Why? Now that you're on the other side do you think a resemblance is more or less important than you thought it was then?
The look of the donor wasn't really that important to me. I wanted someone close enough that it wasn't obvious that our child was conceived in a less than traditional way. I was much more concerned in finding someone who matched in personality. In terms of personality, I thought if I could find someone I could be friends with than it was probably a good match. The only thing I insisted on was that she liked to dance. Quite by accident our donor does look quite a bit like me. You can see a picture of us on this early post. I'm the one on the right.
I don't think I have changed my mind in this. I have lots of friends who don't look anything like me, yet we have much in common. Off the top of my head, I can't think of a single friend where we don't have similar interests, views, intelligence, etc. I wanted to make my relationship with our child(ren) as easy as possible. One of my early childhood experiences with adoption, my very conservative aunt adopted a very wild redhead. I thought their relationship was strained because of the difference. I don't know if that was really this issue for them or how their relationship is now, but it gave me someplace from which to start. Now, I look and act a lot like my mother, but we agree on almost nothing, so you never know.
How often do people comment that LB looks or doesn't look like you? Your DH? How to you answer or handle the comment/question?
When/how to you plan to share LB's story with her?
I don't get that comment very often. Everyone knows she is not my genetic child so they probably didn't feel comfortable saying it even if they thought it.There were times, early on, when I longed to have people say that LB looked like me.I have, on occasion, had strangers make that comment and it wasn't really satisfying. In my head I always thought, "Well, she doesn't. Not really." I did have one humorous occasion where a very lively waiter kept looking between Brad and I trying to peg where LB got her eyes. First it was me, then "no, it is your husband" and back again. We were dining with friends so it was fun to share this inside joke. It left the waiter completely baffled.
As time has gone on, I have changed the way I have answered the question. I'm still not quite comfortable with my response. With strangers, I just say, "Thanks." or "Do you think so?" or something equally non-committal and polite. With family members, I have said, "But she doesn't." or when that didn't feel right, "Really? You think so?" but that doesn't quite work either. I'm touched that they keep looking for similarities between me and LB (both in terms of appearance and personality) and forcing the issue when I deny responsibility.
As for telling - early and often. Well, not overly often. I don't want to make LB's conception a big deal, but I want it to be part of her story. I understand if you tell a child before she is 4 she will never remember being told so it will definitely be before then. I imagine telling her about her conception the way other parents tell children about their birth - lots of happy images and making her sound like the most special kid on the planet (which, of course, she is!). As she gets older, I will throw in more details because at first I'm sure she won't understand what it really means to be the product of a donated cell even if she knows about it. That's the plan anyway. We shall see how it turns out.
I find that while I adore my baby girl to pieces, I still do wish that she were genetically mine. And not because I wish she were different in any way, just because there's all this stuff that goes along with it that I am sometimes not sure I am strong enough to deal with. This is all such new territory. Does that make sense? Do you ever feel like that?
I absolutely feel like that sometimes. When she was new and still pretty generic, I found I still wished I could go back in time and redo everything. Maybe if we went right to an RE, we would have never conceived a soon-to-be-dead baby. Maybe we would have had a successful IVF right out of the gate. I would love to have erased the heartache, pain and regrets in my life. Now that she is more of a little person, it isn't so easy. If someone came to me right now and said that I could go back in time and be guarateed a (relatively) easy conception and birth of healthy babies (2 please, 1 at a time) I might be tempted. It would probably all sound very good until the moment when I would hold LB for the last time. I would have to say good-bye and know that I would be un-making her and un-knowing her. I wouldn't do it. I love her too much. She is the child I want to see grow up.
One other revelation I had recently on this subject. Originally I had asked my younger sister to donate her eggs (she wasn't comfortable with the idea). I felt that her genes would be my genes, just a circuitous route. I have three sisters and we are all very much alike although we are also quite different in important ways. I don't recall what brought it up, but I was reminded that I might have used my sister's eggs. "Oh!, " I said as I held LB tighter, "I'm glad she doesn't have my sister's genes!" It sounded odd even to my ears because I was sure I wanted LB to have my genes and I was sure my genes were the same as my sisters.
It is complicated sometimes and I don't know how I will handle every situation. Sometimes I worry about being strong enough too. Recently there was an anonymous comment pointing to a set of blogs against adoption, ART and donor gametes. It made me uncomfortable to think that LB wouldn't be happy with her conception in the long run. I know some adult children aren't, but there are also many adult children who are happy even though they were adopted or the product of donor gametes. My goal is to love unconditionally and help LB be a happy and well adjusted adult. I don't think her conception is as important as how we raise her. I do think it is important to be honest with her about that conception and I am glad we have a known donor in case she ever wants to meet her genetic contributor.