There are givers and there are takers in life. We certainly all know both types, but of the two, I think we all hope to be givers — and raise them, too. My 7-year-old son refers to it as “bucket filling” versus “bucket dipping”, and I honestly think filling someone’s bucket is a fitting analogy to use to describe being giving and selfless.
Enter Sarah and Samara Van der Worp, two sisters from Australia who might just be the ultimate “bucket fillers.” Between the two of them, they have 21 biological children being raised by other parents, plus another one currently on the way.
If you’re scratching your head right about now and mentally trying to connect the dots, allow me to explain: Sarah and Samara, who each have children of their own, have provided donor eggs to couples who are struggling with infertility. And as a result, they’ve helped complete dozens of other families over the years.
It all started when Samara was struggling to conceive a child of her own, which ultimately led her to IVF. Part of the IVF process involves egg retrieval, or surgically removing the mother’s eggs from her body, and as you might imagine, the process is both emotionally draining and physically painful. But it was also surprisingly life-changing.
“I [found] out I have these really fantastic eggs, and I have this wonderful luck to have my own son eventually, and I wanted to give back,” Samara recently told A Current Affair.
Samara recalls waking up from her egg retrieval to see the number “32” written on her hand, which represented the number of eggs that had been removed from her body for use in future IVF. The number was what had been expected and what Samara and her doctors had hoped for and ultimately, it meant she had a better shot at conceiving.
However, her joy was short-lived when she saw the woman in the bed next to her with a zero written on her hand.
“She was bawling and her pain killed me,” Samara told the outlet. “I know what it feels like and it inspired me to keep donating.”
I like to think of myself as a giver and that I’d do as much as I was capable of doing to help another person in need. Giving a piece of her DNA to another family so they can realize their dreams of being parents? For me, that goes far beyond being a giver and a bucket filler. I’d call that an angel.
“I began donating in 2011, and Sarah supported me through that journey,” Samara tells Babble. And it wasn’t long before Sarah was inspired to donate, too. “She decided that she too could help someone create their family,” Samara adds.
The sisters don’t have plans to donate more eggs right now (or have more eggs retrieved), but they are bumping up against Australia’s legal limitations on how many families one donor can provide eggs to. The rules are managed by the people who run the donor banks, which means Sarah’s donor journey is over — unless one of her existing families wants to make siblings. Samara on the other hand still has some space in her family limit.
The sisters are both very matter-of-fact about their role in creating these families. When it comes to their process, they connect with couples seeking donor eggs through an online registry and get to know them first. Sarah even goes so far as to compare it to online dating. And some of the families even keep in touch long after the pregnancy, which Sarah calls a “nice surprise” that gives the children a biological connection to where they came from.
Struggling to conceive a baby when it’s the one thing you want most in the world is crushing. After all, making babies is something we’re grown up thinking our bodies are “supposed to do” and it’s hard to accept when that doesn’t work.
But it’s heartwarming to see these two mothers from Australia are doing everything they can to help as many people as possible achieve their dream of raising a family. Being a mom is my greatest accomplishment in life so far, but also the greatest gift I’ve ever been given. My children fill my bucket more than I can say, and I know I’m fortunate that their entry into my life came (mostly) easily. It warms my heart that there are people out there who are taking such measures to give other families the gift of parenthood, too.