Who's Your Mommy?
Dear Prudence advises a man whose wife doesn’t want their twins to know they came from donor eggs—during a live chat at Washingtonpost.com.
Q. Sleeping in separate quarters: My husband and I have been happily married for 10 years. We have an active sex life and are both happy. The problem? We sleep in separate quarters. We both like to watch TV to fall asleep; however, I cannot tolerate his channel surfing. We are both fine with this arrangement; however, his kids are not so sure they understand ... are we normal?
A: You don't say if his kids are living with you two or are adults who visit occasionally. If they're under your roof, all you need to say is, "We love each other very much. We also love a good night's sleep, so this works better for us." If they're adults, what business is it of theirs where you two sleep? You two have a great sex life, are happy, and have come up with a perfect solution to a nagging problem. From the perspective of my inbox, that's not normal. But it sounds pretty good.
Q. Need to know: Donor eggs and other nontraditional ways to have children are becoming more and more common. Odds are, your children's generation is going to be less taken aback then we are. When your children are old enough to start asking where babies come from, their origins should be woven into the narrative. They should grow up knowing—and odds are not caring—it's just another facet of their background, like their height or hair color. As for your wife's discomfort, I would urge her to find a support group or therapist that specializes in these issues. I think she will find that nothing is to be gained by secrecy. And if the children find out on their own, that will be much more damaging.
A: Lovely answer, thanks. It used to be that adoption was considered something shameful that needed to be hidden. I agree the wife needs to work out these issues because her discomfort about the children being hers or not hers is going to undermine her own confidence as a mother. Before this egg donation narrative gets woven, both parents have to be comfortable with the telling.
Q. Suggestion for "large, expensive vase": Can you tell another white lie, that you used it so much that one day—oops!—you accidentally dropped it, and how heartbroken you now are? (Assuming, of course, that they don't buy you a replacement.)
A: Many people are suggesting the "I broke it" solution. But that does run the risk of getting another one as an anniversary gift. The badgering friends are in the wrong, but I don't think the recipient should feel bullied into having to tell a lie.
Q. Loaning friend money (lots): A few months ago, a very dear longtime friend asked me for a loan because she had fallen on hard times, having worked only part-time for a couple of years. I was glad to help her, having myself recently been in a situation where I took a job at half my former salary. She said the amount I gave her put things to rights. So I was very concerned to hear from her this week, when she said she needed a pretty considerable amount to keep her home from being sold at auction due to back taxes and other issues. I told her of course I would help her again, and sent the money. Now that I've had some time to think about it, I'm worried: What if this time doesn't fix things either? And I'm ashamed that I feel a little resentful—I work out of state now in a job that pays very well, and it seems I'm the go-to person when people need help. But I need to be saving, too. My friend was a basket case when she asked for the money, so I didn't press for details. How can I ask her to repay me anytime soon when she is on the brink of ruin? She does have a full-time job now, but if she needs more help, I just can't do it. All around, I feel terrible. What do you advise?
A: Sadly, this story is being told millions of times over these days. Having given to your friend generously once, I don't think you should have ponied up again. Unless you have unlimited resources, which you don't, you are not in a position to dig her out of her financial hole. It would be great if you see any of this money again, but you need to start thinking of it as a gift, not a loan, because that's what it's going to end up being. If she comes to you again, be straightforward and tell her what you told me: You're all tapped out.
Q. Re: the need to know: The original poster does not say how old his donor-egg-conceived children are, but the majority of experts who have opined on this topic advocate telling your children of their genetic origins early (in an age-appropriate way) and often. Finding out at age 21 that your parents kept this a secret from you all your life would be far more psychologically damaging than an early, matter-of-fact and simple, explanation. If the father is looking to find information from other parents who have faced this dilemma, I would suggest the nonprofit organization Parents via Egg Donation. They offer a wealth of information for parents who have taken this route to parenthood.
Emily Yoffe is a Slate contributor. You can send your Dear Prudence questions for publication to email@example.com. (Questions may be edited.) Discuss this column with Prudie on the Dear Prudence Facebook page.