The first time I heard this question was at the fertility seminar we attended last year, where one of the speakers, who had adopted her child, came up to talk about adoption from her own experience on the journey.
It was a question that was answered with lots of lovely images, and even verbal confirmation that she couldn’t imagine her life without her daughter. You need to see the pictures, they were pictures that said, “This child is my life”; from mother-daughter images, to those of the baby alone. And the best part, the baby looked like her mom; fair and chubby. It was a love story.
The next time I heard that question was during our interview TFC chats with Dr. Yemisi Adeyemi-Bero. As you might have guessed, we were talking about use of donors and surrogates, and she had drawn an analogy between the overriding feelings when one uses a donor and carries the baby by oneself, and when a surrogate carries a baby.
While there would be a tendency for the woman to love the child she carries more, because of the bonding which would have started in the womb, it would not really matter when the child carried by a surrogate is handed to her. Her emotions would be drawn by the baby involved. It just ceases to matter who bore who, and it becomes all about the love.
Well, Bisola and her husband had to find out for themselves that there was nothing special about their genes, and it was how their child was raised that made all the difference. But before then, there was a mind battle to be won.
Early last year, Bisola got the devastating news that it would be better if she went on to use a donor, as she would not be able to use her eggs to have a baby. They had tried anyways, and suffered repeated failures. When they got that verdict, she cried at her failure to be a “woman” after all. There was no discussion that evening; it was all about cuddling and petting. No mention was made about the second part of the verdict their doctor had delivered. And every time, Bisola remembered that, she cried afresh. It was a ‘no-go’ area. Since the first year when their TTC efforts had yielded no result, she had broached the subject of adoption with her husband, and she had been scared by his reaction. How could he a royal prince, adopt a child who could make claims to the throne of his forefathers, when they might not even know where it came from? He was blood proud, and vehemently rejected the idea, without much consideration.
So, the idea of an egg donor was a delicate subject matter. The truth was, their marriage had been manipulated from the very beginning; her husband was from a royal family and she was from one of the notble families in their home town. The fact that love had blossomed between them, before their marriage, was a divine touch. All that had been planned for the marriage was about to be altered, if they ever took on the matter of donor. That was diluting the royal blood.
They did discuss the matter the next day, and her husband was still adamant that they not give it a try. Bisola got angry, she blasted him and his blood that must not be tainted. She just couldn’t understand his stance, when that was their only choice. She asked him if he would prefer not to have any heir, by the time he became king. He answered that they were going to have babies, “Oh!! With another woman, abi?” was Bisola’s answer. They was no winning with Bisola on this subject matter. But then, he was not shifting ground either.
Matters came to a head, a month later, when Bisola was hospitalized, and was not responding to treatment. Nothing was working, and in the end, the doctor decided it was more of a psychological issue than a physical one. During the week, Bisola’s husband promised everything and anything, if only his wife would be fine. Using a donor was one of the promises.
When she left the hospital, Bisola held him to it and the royal prince grudgingly accepted, and they started the process. They found a donor, after rejecting several; in addition to standard, screening and tests, they wanted someone, from their state of origin, or close to it, their local government if possible. They were lucky on both counts. However, they did not want to meet the donor. Which was quite fine for all the parties involved, as their clinic acted as the middle man.
At the end of the two week wait, Bisola was pregnant…her blood test confirmed it. By six weeks, they found out they were carrying twins, and some weeks later, they found out the sex of the children; a boy and a girl. As she laid on the ultrasound bed, she looked at her husband to gauge his reaction to them having a boy, an heir from another woman’s egg, but all she saw was the face of a man enthralled. He was going to be a father!
Their babies were born at the end of January, and I can tell you, it is always a struggle to get the new dad to go to work. He is a dad who enjoys holding both babies in his arms, feeding them, and had even attempted a diaper change, but the fear of his squirming baby rolling off the changing table, made him leave it to the women.
And he is always seeing resemblance to himself, his dad, his wife and family members in the babies. Whenever she attempts to remind him that he had not wanted donor eggs, he just waves her off. His love for the babies has overridden any ‘blight’ on their maternity.
If you still have concerns about whether you will love children whom you adopted, had through surrogates, or even donors, let’s talk what scientists call Epigenetics. It is the mechanism by which non-genetic factors influence gene expression and thereby, inheritance. This mechanism suggests that the woman who carries the foetus plays a pivotal role in what genes of the offspring will be expressed. The diet, lifestyle, mood and stress level of the gestational carrier all influence the person the baby becomes. This can be of great comfort to prospective parents using donor eggs.
And if you are using a surrogate or adopting, know that while genetics may determine some things, it is ultimately the lifestyle into which a baby is born, the prevailing attitude, and environment that shape the life of the baby.
While some people might be blood-proud, and think genes cannot be changed, the only thing that’s truly unalterable is the notion of unconditional love, which is the love that a parent has for a child, whether they are adopted, biological, or the other ways parenting comes to us all nowadays.
Unconditional love is what makes the difference.
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