At RADfertility, we understand that infertility can be a very isolating disease to face. It is important to know you are not alone. The purpose of the Making a Difference series is to highlight the dedicated organizations and individuals in the community available to help you on your journey.
Founder, Innovator, Facilitator, Educator, and Mom, Marna Gatlin has many titles. Her knowledge and passion are captivating as she works tirelessly to educate, advocate, and provide support for families touched by or considering egg donation. Marna has over 15 years of third party reproduction experience and a strong network of third party experts. Many often refer to her as the “go to” person regarding all things egg donation.
Marna is very open about her own personal family-building journey using donor egg which led to the birth of the nonprofit organization, Parents Via Egg Donation (PVED). PVED is a global organization and a wonderful resource reaching all the way to Asia, Africa, Australia, the Middle East, and more. The PVED community touches the lives of over 10,000 intended parents every year and they have a strong future ahead.
Marna Gatlin – Founder & Chief Executive Officer – PVED.org
What was your inspiration when you founded Parents Via Egg Donation (PVED) in January 2008?
Marna: In the winter of 2000, I became a mother via egg donation. Unfortunately, when I went through the process to become a parent using donated eggs, there was very little support, zero education, and it just wasn’t talked about. It was a scary place to be. After my son was born, I decided that third-party was my vocation and I embarked upon educating myself about third-party reproduction namely egg donation and embryo donation. When I joined the industry as an egg donor professional, I realized that this industry needed education and support for intended parents and parents via egg donation from all walks of life. I never wanted anyone to have to go through the isolation and loneliness I experienced – I really felt like I was the only person on the planet doing this.
PVED was created to provide an educational and supportive environment where parents and parents-to-be can come together to learn and share information about all facets of the egg donation process.
Our mission is to educate, support, and empower families and individuals at any stage of the process who choose to use egg donation to build a family.
So I created a nonprofit organization. That’s how PVED was born.
What are some of the resources that PVED provides?
Marna: We like to tell new people coming into our community that help is just a few clicks away!
Our organization educates and provides information all about:
* Selecting an egg donor agency
* Selecting an infertility clinic
* Selecting an egg donor
* The legalities of egg donation
* Egg donation and gestational surrogacy
* Disclosure and talking to your kids about donor egg
* Understanding statistics
Your community touches the lives of over 10,000 intended parents and parents via egg donation every year. Can you tell us more about the PVED forums?
Marna: The forums are truly the nerve center, the heart and soul of our organization. This is where all intended parents and parents via egg donation come together to communicate, converse, and collaborate about their individual experiences. They come to learn, exchange information, and share with the community what their current situation is. It’s a very safe place to come and let your hair down, so to speak, and receive support in the process.
What piece of advice would you provide to an intended parent that is beginning their family building journey via donor egg?
Marna: I would encourage them to breathe. This entire process can be extraordinarily frustrating and overwhelming. I would encourage intended parents to reach out to us and allow us to support them through education and encouragement. And if our organization is not their flavor, then find a support group that they are comfortable with because there is strength in numbers.
And then I would say educate, educate, educate yourself. At the end of the day, this is a business. It’s really important to be a smart consumer. It is important to know the facts and have the ability to determine and differentiate between a good clinic and a not so good clinic, a good agency and a not so good agency.
What would you share with someone who is struggling with choosing their egg donor?
Marna: I would tell someone who is struggling with choosing their egg donor to keep in mind that the baby that they are meant to have is the baby that they are meant to have. I would encourage them to meet with a therapist to explore what they may think their struggles are. I would encourage them to contact us and to talk with others who have gone before them. I would encourage them to stay the course, and cleave to what’s important to them even if that may seem insignificant to anyone else looking in. It’s their baby they are having. This is not like buying a car or a house or a boat. This is a child. And when an intended parent is purposely bringing a child into the world, you want to make sure that you’re doing the right thing for the right reasons.
At the beginning of your journey, did you ever worry that you wouldn’t be able to love your child unconditionally since they wouldn’t be genetically related to you?
Marna: You know, I’ve been asked that question a lot. I think it’s the most asked question I hear on a daily basis. I never worried that I wouldn’t be able to love him unconditionally because I am not genetically related to him. My worry was somehow he might feel resentful in regards to how he was brought into the world. But we’ve been so open with him about how he was conceived and what a party we threw the night he was born – he just doesn’t care about the egg donor piece. He is too busy living a great life as a teenager right now 🙂
What do you hope to accomplish in 2017 with PVED?
Marna: Our goal is to have information about every single clinic and agency within the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia to share with our intended parents worldwide.
We are working towards having the ability to travel and talk about third-party reproduction, egg donation and embryo donation. We want to share how PVED can help families all over the world become parents and navigate an often complicated process with regards to their family building.
We hope to create face-to-face meet up groups worldwide so real people can meet and have real conversations about their journey, receive support, and create those oh so important connections.
Our embryo donation program is gaining momentum and we are striving to be that place where intended parents trust us to assist them in donating embryos to other intended parents around the world.
Of course we are working hard to keep up with our quilt program – we send baby quilts to brand-new babies that are born via egg donation to community members within our organization.
We also offer mental health consultations to intended parents and parents within our community to communicate to us that they may need a little extra help with their journey.
There is a book in the works! We are incredibly excited! It’s going to be all about egg donation – real stories by real people.
And finally, our goal is to make egg donation and embryo donation widely accepted around the globe.
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