Thursday, March 31, 2011

"Frozen Angels"

I was browsing through the Netflix library yesterday and came across a documentary about the development of reproductive technology in Los Angeles. "Frozen Angels" gives viewers multiple perspectives of people involved in the art of unconventional baby-making. The film follows a gestational surrogate & her recipient couple, a young man born with help from a Nobel Prize sperm donor (AKA "the Designer Baby"), a blonde haired/blue eyed egg donor (AKA the poster girl), several fertility specialists, and Bill Handel (a radio personality, and father of twin girls who were born through gender selection IVF). The film also examines ethical dilemmas with respect to genetic manipulation, and using egg donors/surrogates.

Kari, the egg donor, is definitely someone I can relate to. She has donated her eggs several times, and now receives up to $8000 for each donation. Described by the clinic as the "ideal donor," it seemed as though she was quickly becoming a hot commodity to couples seeking donors. The clinic she was involved with seemed much less sensitive to her experience as a donor in comparison to Shady Grove. I don't feel like she was as prepared for experiencing side effects from the hormones, and her clinic was more concerned with her making money than being safe and healthy through the process. To put it bluntly, she was treated somewhat like a prostitute in my opinion. It seemed more like she was going through a business transaction, rather than giving a gift as I like to put it. I truly hope that my experience will be much different.

Doron, the product of a Nobel Prize sperm donor, gives a great perspective into life as a donor child. Having an IQ of 180, he definitely takes after his biological father - just as his mother wanted. When asked how he feels about his sperm donor "father," he gave an answer that I thought was very interesting. His donor is just another person in the world, not his Dad, and that is all. I think this is a great way for a person to think about their donor. The donor gives a small piece of themselves for a child to be created, and that is all. I'll be in no way, shape, or form a "mother" to my potential donor child - and that's okay. Being able to give such a huge gift is a gift to me in itself, and I don't desire anything more.

Seeing Amy & Steve, the parents who receive a child from a gestational carrier, was particularly touching. After 15 years of failed IVF treatments, they made the decision to utilize a surrogate to carry their biological child. I can't imagine the pain they felt throughout those - gulp - 15 years, but seeing them with their baby was truly amazing. I went through about half a box of tissues... yeah, I'm a dork. I hope that my gift makes even a fraction of this impact on the lives of a couple struggling to become parents.

There is a lot more covered in the film than I have described here, but being out of the realm of my experience, I'll leave my description short and sweet. If you have Netflix, the movie is available for instant streaming - I highly recommend watching it.

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