Are you worried that a child conceived after an egg donation will not look like you? Nowadays, many studies on the subject help us understand that genetics is not the only parameter to consider when talking about resemblance!
When you cannot use your own oocytes to achieve pregnancy, your gynecologist will recommend in vitro fertilization with donor oocytes. This may be an IVF technique with very good results, but of course, for many couples, it is hard to accept. On the other hand, it is usual for a child not to resemble his biological parents either physically or as a personality, but rather his grandparents, cousins, or aunts and uncles. The use of the father’s and mother’s gametes does not guarantee that the child will resemble his or her parents, just as the use of donation does not necessarily mean a radical dissimilarity. A child born from a donation may look more like its parents than a child born from the gametes of both parents.
Epigenetics in IVF with egg donation
Understanding epigenetics is of particular interest in IVF with egg donation because the unborn child does not share the same genes as the mother. However, this does not mean that he will not resemble her throughout her pregnancy. The behavior and environment of the mother’s uterus will definitely have an influence on the development of the fetus and on the activation or not of certain genes (see article bionews.org.uk, November 2015). For example, in the case of egg donation, if the child has curly hair due to genetic inheritance, the processes within the mother’s womb will determine whether the hair will eventually become more or less curly. Therefore, the child will somehow look like its mother, even if it does not have her genes.
Donor selection according to recipient phenotype, epigenetics and environment: the doubt about similarity is overturned
You shouldn’t give so much attention to the physical resemblance because your child will resemble you in a thousand other ways: it will resemble you by the gestures, expressions, habits, behavior, education and everything you will teach it while growing. These are neither inherent nor hereditary and therefore genetics is not the key to parental and family harmony. We must not forget that the donor is chosen according to her phenotypic characteristics. The phenotype of a human is the set of his/her characteristics such as height, build, hair color, eye color, skin color or blood type. On the other hand, it is good to know that the endometrium is capable of secreting molecules that can cause a modification of the genome of the embryo. Thus, as incredible as it may seem, your child will have as much chance of resembling you as if it had been conceived with your own egg!
Factors that increase parent-offspring resemblance
Indeed, the resemblance between children and their non-biological parents is more frequent than it might seem. Four explanations are possible:
- When a heterosexual couple receives a gamete donation because of fertility problems of one of them, the other one stills offers his genetic material.
- At Medimall we select a donor whose phenotype is closer to the future mother (or father) with all the visible physical characteristics: height, build, eye color, hair, skin, as well as blood type.
- Even if it was conceived with the oocytes of a donor, the woman who carries the embryo has a great influence on the genetic expression of the latter: in the uterus, the DNA of the embryo undergoes multiple exchanges with the molecules of the gestational carrier, which results in the strengthening of specific genetic characteristics that would not have been the same in the uterus of another woman. During pregnancy, a unique and strong bond is also created between the fetus and the woman who carries, nourishes and transforms it. The first sound perceived by the embryo is the mother’s heartbeat!
- The environment in which the child grows up from birth and education has a major influence on the development of the child’s personality and behavior. As in the case of an adoption, the child will adopt the mimics, intonations, tics, and values of its parents, whether they are biological or not, by mimicry.
As a mother after an oocyte donation, you will be forever the true mother of your child since you will have carried him/her and nourished him/her from your blood, your thoughts, and your emotions during the whole of your life.
Personalities who have used gamete donation
In the world of celebrities, the phenomenon is the same as for the rest of the population. Not everyone chooses to make their fertility problems public. But many cases of women over 40 who become mothers make us assume that they have used MAP.
However, some celebrities publicly assume the donation of gametes. Among them, Mariah Carey, whose twins were conceived through egg donation, and Monica Cruz, who decided to have a child on her own through artificial insemination with sperm from an anonymous donor (IAD)
Their example may be a good start to the debate on genetic origins. It helps to normalize the situation and to fight against the prejudice that is still linked to assisted reproduction.
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