mother and child standing in the shallow waves at the beach

“She has your eyes!”

“Looks like she’ll be as tall as you!”

“She has your mother’s coloring.”

These comments — and many more — all undoubtedly came from a good place. But they got me thinking very early on in my journey as a mother to a double-donor baby about how to tell her story. And how to normalize the fact that even though the pieces that made up this child weren’t mine, she is 100% mine.

These comments also got me thinking about the good old nature vs. nurture debate. How much of her personality do I get to shape? Are her talents mostly attributable to her genetic makeup? Will she be smart and kind and fearless because of how I raise her — or because I happened to choose good egg and sperm donors?

My initial reaction to these questions and thoughts was simple and self-serving: I’ll take credit for all the good stuff and blame nature for anything bad or wrong that happens along the way!

If she ends up being a world-renowned nature explorer who also happens to be a star athlete and is philanthropic, clearly the trips to Drumlin Farm, the investment in Amazing Athletes, and my work in fundraising are all to credit.

If she turns out unkind, not athletic, and doesn’t even graduate from high school — well, there’s only so much my “good” nurturing can do when working with such strong genes.

If only it were that simple!

The truth is, raising a double-donor baby adds a new layer of surprise to parenting that I imagine doesn’t fully exist with other types of child-raising.

The truth is, I don’t have a complete picture of the genetic baggage she brings with her. And being a first-time parent, I don’t know what my nurturing can (or can’t) do.

The truth is, I can see myself in almost everything she does — her smile, her musical inclination, her taste in food, her stubbornness.

And the truth is, she surprises me and shows me her unique self — which is greater than the sum of her nature and my nurture — every minute of every day.

For me, the gift of the double-donor baby is the humility it has instilled in me. I now know that neither nature nor nurture is what makes her up. Instead, she has been given absolute carte blanche and gets to invent her glorious self as she grows.

Michal is a Single Mother by Choice to a double-donor miracle baby, Alma born in 2020, who was conceived in the Ukraine on March 10th, 2020 (you remember THAT week). Originally from Israel, Michal has been in the USA since 2004, with 9 of those in the Boston area – six as a grad student (many lifetimes ago) and three as a mom, non-consecutively. Getting to motherhood a little later in life, Michal holds a PhD in Political Science from Boston University and has been working in non-profit fundraising since 2011 – currently at Northeastern University, where she is setting her sights high (and far), planning to work there long enough to be able to get Alma through college for free! Michal and Alma live in Waltham, right next door to Alma's grandparents, with their beloved mutt, Grizzly. Michal loves the door motherhood has opened for her in building her and Alma’s community, surrounding them both with new friends and is excited to share her experience and diverse perspectives with the larger Boston Moms community!


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