Skin in the Game

DSH and I have similar philosophies with regard to money and finances.  This has given us one less thing to argue about over the years.

Our five girls and their food babies

We both agreed and enforced similar habits with regard to earning and spending money with our children.  First of all, once they reached 16 and earned their driver’s licenses, they were required to get a “real” job.  That is, one where they were scheduled to work, expected to show up on time, and do a job that resulted in earning a paycheck complete with all of the normal deductions.  You know.  Just like an adult.

It didn’t just teach them an appreciation for the value of work, but also a myriad of other things.  One of the things that we didn’t allow was for them to just piss money away on any old thing.  They were expected to save some and to pay some bills – like gas for the car.  They were also able to spend some, too.  They had their own checking and savings accounts and debit cards early on and learned how to manage them.

DSH calls this having “skin in the game.”  He believes that when one has “skin in the game”, i.e. like paying for at least part of their own college expenses, then they will value that thing more and as a result work harder to be successful at it.

Katy with eyebrow piercing

Which leads me to our current issue.  Our rule for going away to college was that you were required to live in campus housing for at least the first two years.  Studies show that students who do this, do better, academically in school.  We, personally, feel that growing into adulthood is something that happens gradually so we loosen the reins gradually, too.  That’s just our approach and not the only one that is successful for sure.

By the third year of college, we expected our kids to be able to pay for their own room and board.  Especially if they intended to live off campus.  We never signed a lease for any of them.  They had to figure out how to make it all work – commuting, laundry, utilities, and now Internet, too.

If they want to act like adults, then they have to learn how to take care of adult things.

I’m getting to our issue.   Really I am.


So, our youngest daughter has signed a lease to live off campus next school year.  She will be a third year student, a junior, and she will be 21 by the time she starts the school year.

She has a job when she is home for the Summer and during school breaks and has more than a little bit of money saved up, but she realizes that she will need to supplement this money in order to not use it all up before the end of the term.

So, she has been looking for jobs in her college town.  On Craigslist.

There are a number of money-making opportunities on Craigslist.  Cleaning a house will get you $425.  I can only imagine the condition that house is in for someone to be willing to pay that sum of money to have it cleaned.

I’ve heard of young women earning a LOT of money as dancers.  Yes.  Dancers in those types of places.  I know someone who has done this, and it has helped her to make rent and meet some unexpected expenses from time to time.

But, the money-making venture that our baby found and has been researching is egg donation.

We aren’t talking chicken eggs here.

We are talking her eggs.  As in my DNA eggs.  And DSH’s DNA, too.

Apparently, college campuses are exactly the perfect spot to find the best egg donors.  Those looking for eggs want to find someone who is attractive and smart.  Seriously, those are two of the main criteria.  They want to meet you to make sure you are attractive, and they want to know your test scores to make sure you meet the intelligence quotient.  The applications also include information on a variety of other topics of interest – your drug and alcohol use, your athletic ability, any hereditary diseases or genetic defects, and on and on.  But, you catch my drift.

I was totally caught off guard and unprepared for this conversation.  When I joke about children not coming with a manual, I wouldn’t even think that this would appear in the table of contents.

Chapter 500 – How to Talk to Your Daughter About Becoming an Egg Donor

After DSH and I realized that she really wasn’t kidding about this, we talked about it.  And we talked about it some more.  And we slept on it.  And then we talked about it some more.

From a financial perspective, the choice is appealing.  The donation of ONE egg will more than pay for an entire year’s worth of rent.

But, my gut reaction, my initial reaction was NO.  Hell, NO.  That’s my DNA in there.  It would be almost like giving away a grandchild.

But here is where I started to struggle with my initial, gut reaction.

I know many wonderful families and parents whose children were born as a result of egg and sperm donations.  I just had never considered the egg and sperm donation from the other side.

That is, the side of the donor.

How is donating an egg different from donating sperm?  My logical side says it shouldn’t matter, but my emotional side says it is.  But maybe that’s just because I am a woman, and I feel some ownership over those eggs, by God!

How is the principle of donating an egg different from giving a child up for adoption, for instance?  My logical side says that providing a loving couple with a child is a good thing, but my emotional side wonders and worries about that potential child who carries part of me within him or her.

I was so unprepared for this conversation.  I was so unprepared for the emotions and questions.

As I thought through the issue, I decided that if I knew the couple or knew of a couple in need I would support it.  It’s more the unknown couple that bothers me.  I guess.

Again, while I’m thinking about that egg in my daughter’s body, I’m also thinking of my friends who have children because of these types of techniques.  Friends who are wonderful, caring parents who were deserving to be parents and were able to because of this technology.

Part of the process involves meeting the prospective parents.  Presumably that is so they can check out our daughter.  After we talked, I asked her if she thought it worked both ways.  That is, will she check them out, too, and if it doesn’t feel right to her would she abandon the idea?  She said that she would.  She said that she already considered that an option.  But, she said it in more colorful language.

Michelle's tattoo

At the end of the day, we have raised our daughter to be able to make adult decisions with regard to her own body and her own finances.  She will make the decision for herself in spite of what we think.  She could make this decision without involving us in the discussion at all.  In other words, she has skin in the game.

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19 Responses to Skin in the Game

  1. Hillary says:

    Wow. This one made me a little light headed. I know I’ll be pondering how I would feel in this situation for the next few days. Whew.

  2. Marti says:

    Legal issue: Can she be sued for child support sometime down the road?

    • Mama says:

      Someone else asked me the same thing, but the discussion has not evolved to that point yet (and may never for that matter). I decided to forgo moving the discussion to legal or religious issues because we were having a healthy dialogue and I did not want it to SHUT DOWN.

      We’ll see how it goes once she gets back from her study abroad semester and things settle down.


      • Mama says:

        For those curious about the legal issues, read about Egg Donation on Wikipedia. It not only gives the statistics on births born via egg donation (over 47,000), but also it is dealt with legally (similar to adoption). Other interesting information also mirrored my post.


  3. Rachel says:

    Yikes. I’ve gone through the process of egg retrieval and it is not fun. Do they let her know all that is involved?

    • Mama says:

      Yes, she’s been doing some heavy duty research on the medical procedure. This kid has been through 7 eye surgeries, one other surgery to remove a lymph node that was problematic behind her ear, hospital treatment for a staph infection, and just had 4 wisdom teeth pulled – the procedure does not seem to be scaring her off at this point, and since it’s relatively common that isn’t one of my greatest concerns either although I don’t want to be around her during the hormone treatment part. 🙂


      • Rachel says:

        I don’t blame you. 😉 The “surgery” part of it is pretty minor actually, it’s just all the shots you have to take that really stink. I’m intrigued by this whole thing, I hope whatever she decides makes her happy.

        • Mama says:

          She’s decided to defer her final decision until after her return from her Study Abroad semester in Argentina. I’m actually more nervous about that than I am about her donating an egg! And she’ll be nearly 21 by then, too. Not much you can do after you raise them other than continue to talk to them.


  4. KimV says:

    I’m with Rachel on this one. There are a lot of medical issues that could go wrong. This would be my main concern. I applaud your daughter on her creative way to solve a problem.

  5. Angie says:

    Has she thought about when the child grows up and wants to contact her as the biological parent? They have a TV show out where siblings met through a sperm database and I am assuming there is or will be something like that for egg donation as well. Not sure if you know the whole process but they want to retrieve as many eggs as possible and fertilize them so it wouldnt be just one egg but could be about 20-25 potential children. I would also have her consider thinking about what her future husband would think. I remember thinking about this for the extra cash and my hubby said dont even think about it because it was like me creating another baby with another man. And I agree with the other comments about taking the shots, surgery, etc. I had an egg retrieval done (and getting ready to do anther one in a couple of months-please God dont let it be twins again :)) and there can be things that can go wrong and prevent you from having your child down the road. I believe I read that the risk for cancer goes up too??? WIth that being said, I have had a friend do this about 4 different occasions. The first three times have all been good. The last time, her overies were hyper-stimulated. She got the couple pregnant each and every time and now she is currently carrying her own child.

    • Mama says:

      Lots of great points for her to consider. Just goes to show you that issues don’t go away when they grow up – they just get more complex!


  6. findthefunnyCarollyn says:

    Wow. I’ve never even thought about whether or not my sons should donate sperm. You’ve left me with a lot to ponder.

    • Mama says:

      As we were talking about egg donation, I thought about what I would think if we had a son who wanted to donate sperm. Outside of the obvious differences in technique required, I don’t know if I would have had as strong a reaction. But I should have, right?


  7. d says:

    Whatever decision your daughter makes will be the ‘right’ decision for her – you are right to support the gift that she will be giving to another set of parents. This isn’t a cheap endeavour – these individuals really want to raise a family, so I would be less inclined to worry about the parents but more concerned about her ability to have children of her own when she is ready. She’s a terrific kid, you should be thankful and proud to be her parents.

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