"Those 14 eggs represented many hard decisions." The reality of deciding to be an egg donor.

When you wake up following an egg donation, the number of eggs the physicians have retrieved is written on the back of your hand. In my groggy post-general anesthetic state, the first thing I did was try and get a focus on the messy black vivid scrawl. I stared hard at my hand as the number 14 came into focus. Those 14 eggs represented many hard decisions, an emotional and financial roller coaster ride for the couple receiving the eggs and a stack of invasive medical procedures. What I didn’t know was the journey that my own family would be taking in the years following the donation.

Fast forward 6 years and my egg donation has resulted in two adorable sisters.

My own family has grown to three kids. (Image: Supplied)

In this time my own family has grown to three kids. As we navigate the uncertain seas of being one side of a family involved in an egg donation, one thing is for sure, our whole family has gained so much from this gift.

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We tend to bring our two families together once a year to catch up. After our last visit, my eight year old daughter asked “what did you get for giving your eggs to somebody else”. In Australia it is illegal to be paid for egg donation, so my initial response was “nothing”. Eventually I continued... “it made me feel good to give something important to a person who needed it without expecting anything in return”. Hers was a beautiful question that opened a meaningful conversation between mother and daughter about giving without the expectation of receiving.

In Australia, it is commonly recommended that parents explain to children conceived from egg donation about their genetic origins from early on. We took the same approach in our own family and talked through the process to our eldest son as I went through the IVF cycle leading up to the donation. Because of his keen interest in science he was fascinated by the whole female reproductive cycle, even as a five year old boy. This nugget of wisdom is one that he still loves to share. I overheard him chatting to his two younger sisters recently telling them all about periods without a shred of shame or embarrassment. What a wonderful brother, and perhaps eventual husband or dad, that the gift of this knowledge has resulted in.


The meaning of ‘family’ has taken a delightful spin. As they have gotten older, the kids across our two families have begun calling each other ‘brother’ and ‘sister’. It is clear that for my kids these two girls are very much considered part of our family. This has resulted in some rather interesting conversations as the kids try and explain our extended family to confused adults.


“'There was lots of questions from the other kids, but they didn’t really understand,' she told me." Image via iStock.

Recently, when it was her turn for the classroom show and tell, my middle child proudly picked up the photo of her two other ‘sisters’ and headed off to her grade two class to tell them the story of the donation. That night she tells me “there was lots of questions from the other kids, but they didn’t really understand”. As the diversity of the family structure expands in Australia, I’m glad that our kids can talk openly and add their own experience to this rich fabric of social difference.

My husband has never really understood my desire to be an egg donor. It was a decision I had made the year before I met him when I was a 25 year old university student. Four years later during the donation process he was required to formally give his consent for me to donate. I was furious at an administrative system that didn’t give me the freedom to choose what I wanted to do with my body. He tells me now he was actually secretly hoping the egg donation would stop my relentless drive to have a third child, so he went along with it. It didn’t. Whilst I still think that formal consent is overkill, I now understand what a huge decision my donation was for our whole family.

Each year there are only a few hundred eggs donated in Australia. This number pales in comparison to the hundreds of families looking for egg donors. Some nights, I sit with my youngest (now five) on my lap and we scroll through the Facebook photos of the two girls and marvel at their similar features yet the difference in their lives to ours. These girls are part of our family narrative and we are so much richer as a family for it.