Thursday, August 1, 2013

Donor Mum

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Last week while surfing through the TV channels, of which we have about ten and usually can't find anything to watch, we landed upon a documentary on ABC2 titled, Donor Mum: The children I have never met.

As written in my post last week, this topic is close to my heart and mind at the moment, so we watched intently.

The 2011 documentary follows the journey of Sylvia Barr, who was one of Britain's first anonymous egg donors, as she seeks to met the children that were born from her two donated eggs. Sylvia also has one child of her own, conceived using donor insemination.

Her journey started 19 years before filming, after the birth of her son, she decided to "give something back", so anonymously donated two of our own eggs. Sylvia then received a bunch of flowers from the recipient and a hand written card of thanks.

The lady that received Sylvia's two eggs, Joan, had devastatingly lost her first two children in a car accident and being unable to conceive again herself went down the donation path. As chance would have it, Sylvia saw a television programme about this devastating car accident and saw Joan's handwriting on a wreath laid on the grave of her two children. She realised that Joan was the woman she had helped. (What are the odds, right!!)

Joan gave birth to twins using Sylvia's donated eggs, a boy and a girl. At the time of making this documentary (2011), she had been divorced from her husband for 12 years. He was not a part of this program.

Through TV and paper reports and then FaceBook (arh, bless FaceBook), Sylvia was aware of the children's names and where they lived, long before she would meet them.

When the time was right and the twins had turned 18, Sylvia, counselled by a UKDL employee, wrote a letter to Joan introducing herself and asking if she would like to be in touch.

The letter was meet with enthusiasm from Joan. It seemed that she wanted nothing more than to meet the woman who had given her this great gift.

At first, Joan's daughter was hesitant to talk about her biological mother, even though she had known her whole life that she was conceived with donor eggs. This tore at Sylvia. She wondered if she should not have made contact after all and decided to back off. However, the daughter did eventually warm to the idea.

After swapping emails and phone calls, the group of five ended up meeting. Immediately they seemed at ease with each other and started comparing their physical characteristics. There was a lot of family resemblance between Sylvia, her son and the twins.

This documentary was hugely emotional, but for them it was undeniably worthwhile. This story was definitely one with a happy ending.

At the same time, Sylvia's son was liaising with UK DonorLink (UKDL) to find any adults or siblings that he may be genetically related too. Sadly, after giving a DNA sample, no matches were found on the database.

This documentary certainly pulled at my heart strings. The first phone call between Sylvia and Joan had tears streaming down my face. And when they actually met I was a blubbering mess.

I felt for Sylvia as she talked of how she struggled for 18 years to not contact her biological children, and how she always thought of them, wondering what they were doing, how they were. I also felt for her son who wanted to find his biological father and hoped that he had donated his sperm for a greater cause than just money.

It is such a hard decision to donate sperm, eggs, or embryos and one that stays with you forever. One that should not be taken lightly because one day a little person could be the result.


  1. A story with a beautiful ending. You were meant to see that Sam, although I don't know if helps make the decision any easier for you. xx

    1. Hi Jodi, I couldn't believe when we saw this documentary! The timing is just amazing.

  2. I wish I had seen that - the timing seems a little uncanny right?! Everything happens for a reason right?! xx

    1. Right! I can't believe the timing of this documentary!

  3. Hi Sam, What an amazing story. I'm kind of glad I didn't see the program as I'm certain that I, too, would have been a blubbering mess. Just went and read your previous post so now understand why this story resonated with you. It's tempting to write something clich├ęd like "look into your heart and you'll know what's right". But that's BS - it's bloody hard to know what to do in situations like this. All I can do is, again, wish you all the best x

  4. Wow. Intense story. I would have been bawling too. I hope all is going well with you and you are coping okay. x

  5. What an amazing story. I don't know how I would react in that situation, whether I could donate, whether I would want to be in contact. It is all very emotionally taxing and difficult to know what you would do.

    1. It is definitely a tough decision, so many factors to weigh up.