Well, not actually. Therapy (in the very traditional sense) was at a minimum when we met with our new IF therapist last Friday. Although Mr. S was dreading getting 'analyzed' (ha ha), our almost-2-hour session together turned out to be more 'psycho-educational' than anything. After working with a different therapist this time last year on grief, I became so used to (and eventually exasperated by) explaining IF terminology to her that you can imagine my surprise when this new therapist started schooling me. It was refreshing. She was throwing out the AMH, the FSH, the clinic stats-yeah! Now you're talking my language! And while I thought I was walking into a regular IF therapist's office, I didn't realize that she specializes in alternative family building/3rd party reproduction in particular. Score!
I have to say, aside from a few un-PC blunders on my part (ie calling the egg donor the bio mom--oops--that scored me a few ignorance points), I can't say that she revealed anything too earth shattering to me. But the discussion sealed what I've known almost from the start (which is the true brilliance of therapy-revealing what you already know): I will not do this completely anonymously. I just can't. I've touched on my reasons for this in an earlier post and we discussed these in great detail, specifically centered around the issue of our child's identity building. Interestingly, our psychologist published a blog entry shortly after we met on this very subject and the best summation of my feelings about the matter can be found in her words:
"It is commonsense that disclosing donor origins to donor conceived offspring will lead them to have questions about the donor, and research supports that information about donors is important to donor offspring. Several studies indicate that donor conceived offspring want to know about their donor origins, request information about the donor and feel a sense of loss and questions about their identity when knowledge is lacking. "
While this does not specifically address having direct contact with the donor, I can imagine that the possibility of this is the only way to ensure that if there are a lot of questions later, this would be the best way to fully address them (as a donor profile doesn't tell everything and can't purport to anticipate a future child's questions). I mean, don't get me wrong. I don't necessarily envision the donor sitting at our table for Christmas (but you never know). What I do envision is arming ourselves now so that we may fill in any gaping holes later.
So, it is for this reason that we cannot go the 'cheap' route (cue the laughter-as if anything in this business is cheap-bwahahaha!). What I've found is that the clinics whose programs are completely anonymous tend to be fairly 'economical' in comparison to those who offer some sort of future contact between offspring and donor (or are willing to work our legal docs into the contract, which is an added expense). That's not a hard and fast rule, but for those clinics that I am willing to pursue it seems to be the case. Unfortunately, we didn't walk into this prepared for a cycle that's at best twice that of a 'regular' IVF, so we have some time to mull it over while we collect our coins.
I think the truly defining moment in therapy, though, was the moment that made me realize how open my heart is to this new path. As we began to discuss how we would explain our child's conception to them, she gave us an example and talked to us as if she were speaking to a five-year-old who is donor conceived. Her words were so simple and then, being the big old sentimental schmuck I am, I started to tear up. My son's story is not that much different. Obviously, there will be an additional person in the picture with egg donation, but generally speaking, conception in either of these ways is not a 'typical' story. But it is our story and one that I embrace and think is beautiful. Listening to it, I realized that it primarily spoke of how much our child (and possibly children) is wanted and what great lengths we went to meet them. If that isn't a story about love, I don't know what is.
For now, I am ready. While I am not naive in thinking that my grief took all of three weeks to process, I do know that I am now more excited about the prospects of building our family in this new way than saddened.