After a truly long and agonizing struggle I think I’m ok with moving forward with donor eggs. One thing that seems to be critically important to me is that I am 100% comfortable with the donor. And I have 2 deal breakers –
- She has to at least resemble me. Even if my children don’t have my genetic makeup I want them to physically blend in with our family. This part is problematic, because as I’ve mentioned before I have very red hair and there aren’t very many red-headed (or strawberry blonde or auburn) donors. She also can’t be too tall – my husband is 6’7″ so we want to minimize the possibility of any enormously tall female children (this is mainly my husbands request). In a perfect world she would have light eyes (green, blue, grey) because I think that’s very attractive and if I can choose, hey, why not? And yes, I know that having a donor with red hair doesn’t mean we’ll have a red-haired child. What it does mean is that similar characteristic to mine (including skin tone, coloring, hair, whatever) will be passed on to the child.
- It has to be an open donation. I absolutely understand why people (both donors and recipients) would want to be anonymous. It’s extremely appealing. But I believe that donor conceived children have a right to know their genetic heritage, both for medical and personal reasons. I feel it’s vital for humans to have a sense of who they are. Also, my husband and I are going to a great deal of trouble to ensure that our children are genetically related to at least one of us, how could we dream of taking away their right to know the people they are genetically related to? Plus, if I were a donor I would want to know that my eggs went to good people. I would be concerned for the health and happiness of any children that might have come from my donation. I would never want a donor to regret their decision to donate the eggs that allowed us to have a family. Ideally, I would like us to keep each other informed of milestones and/or health issues, with the understanding that any children I might have would have the option to contact them in the future if they ever were curious.
So, our pool of possible donors is small. My frustration with infertility and all of the testing and uncertainty is high. And our bank account (after 3 IVF cycles and all that goes along with that) is very low. Frozen eggs seem like the way to go – cheaper, easier, less uncertainty. That gives us 2 main FE options –
- Donor Egg Bank USA – this is the group my RE works with. They have absolutely no one that fits our criteria. I am uncertain as to whether or not they allow open donations.
- The World Egg Bank – in order to see the donors you have to be a patient of an “affiliate” and do a bunch of testing. The nearest affiliate is more than 600 miles away, and I don’t want to do more testing. I have been poked and prodded enough for 3 lifetimes. There is also a fee to see their donor database, and they do not allow open donations. So, no deal.
I guess that means frozen eggs are out unless by some miracle a reddish haired, medium height, green-eyed donor who explicitly wants an open donation pops up on Donor Egg Bank. It could happen, right? Based on my track record with infertility…my magic 8 ball says “Not likely”.
This has led me to look at fresh donation. MUCH more pricey, few or no guarantees, much more complicated. Our clinic only has 8-10 donors, none are even close to our criteria. The other local clinic doesn’t allow open donations. BUT, I’ve found a donor through a nation-wide agency that I really like. She has auburn-ish hair, blue eyes, 5’7″. She donated once before (7 years ago-no report on the outcome of the donation but she is recommended by her agency) and she has 2 kids of her own. She’s married (he’s very supportive), we have the same interests, I love her reasons for wanting to donate, she’s open to future contact. She’s currently available and interested in donating to us.
BUT, she lives 300 miles away (there are no donors in our area that meet our criteria). She’s 29. The donor fee and agency fee combined are well north of $10,000. Then there’s travel ($4000), meds ($~6000), monitoring ($3000), legal/psych/health insurance/etc ($1500) and then the actual IVF part ($14,000). In the end we’re looking at ~$40,000. With no guarantee that it’ll work. Where a million things coud go wrong. Will she pass all the tests? Will she take her meds properly? How many eggs will she produce? How many of those eggs will fertilize? And even if we get the expensive “guarantee” it only refunds the cost of the IVF itself, not the $25,000+ of donor fees, travel, meds, etc. That’s a lot of money to gamble with. Not to mention the emotional costs.
I am truly at an impasse. Do we wait for a frozen egg donor who may never show up? How long do we wait? Also, most frozen donations aren’t open, which is a deal breaker. Do we go with this fresh donor and just hope for the best? Anyone have any suggestions? Someone? Anyone?
I’m doing donor eggs and have done a ton of research. If you ever need someone to talk to email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Hope all works out for you.
Goodness! Good luck finding someone. As a fellow redhead, I understand how rare we actually are.
I’m sorry you’re having such a hard time finding a donor. With everything you’ve had to give up to get to this point, I hope you don’t have to compromise on this, too. I hope the right donor is out there and that you find her soon!
Yikes. Is there any way of expanding your search to look for people who have red hair in their family but might not themselves be specifically red haired? I only say that because I know it’s a recessive gene and even if someone doesn’t have it themselves, they might still carry it and therefore pass it on to their offspring who could be red-headed (thinking Prince Harry here). Other than that I have no clue. Good luck!
If an open donor is so important, I just want to confirm that you are aware that any of these clasues in a contract where a donor agrees to contact when the child is 18 are non-binding. The donor is free to say this now and change their mind in 5 years. I hate to add criteria to your list – but I do think if you really want an open donor then I would make sure the donor also appears like someone who won’t later change her mind on contact. The donor you have found sounds just perfect, married has kids and has already done this. I would worry most about later changes by women who were young when they donated and then later married and had kids.
I also so totally agree with your statement about wanting a donor who wants to be a donor. I could never be an egg donor (besides the no eggs issue). But, to me, emotionally, it would be too tough. I wanted a donor who would be proud of what she did for our family and hopefully I found one. I put in the contract that I write letters once a year about the child to her and she was open to this.
As for costs, I did an agency donor and I think the total bill was between 40 and 45K. My donor did not, but donors will also often ask for lost compensation when they travel. And your donor will probably travel with someone, maybe her whole family. You have to pay for your legal and her legal, which cost me 2K. Feel free to email if you have questions. But, from my experience of 1, those cost estimates are accurate.
I did an agency donor because I needed to have future contract. I am not sure it will matter to any future children. And I totally understand why some people don’t care about this. But, to me, I needed this to go through with DE. But, I learned more after the fact, and there are a few more options to do DE with open contact donors and not have to pay all the added agency fees.
There are some clinics (like ORM, CTF, and SDFC) that have in house donors that are all willing to later contact. (I believe it is a state law in Washington.) I have also heard GIVF is in the process of having an open-donor in house program. You will still have to travel, they probably have a limited list of donors, but this will probably cut the cost by 15K.
You can advertise and find your own donor. I did know about this option but was too crushed by past IF failures to take this on. But, this is your best option if you want a donor who knows you as well.
Finally, if you read the small but growing research on donor-conceived children and what they want to know about their donors, I was surprised at how modest their wants were. A picture and some information about likes and dislikes seems to satisfy a decent fraction of these children.
Best of luck and hope you find the perfect donor!!!
I think if you’ve found a donor who meets your needs, which is probably really rare, I say jump on it. Its only money right (ha ha) but seriously do what you gotta do so that you feel like you are getting your needs met. You have already given up so much already (bio child, free and easy conception) you shouldn’t keep having to give stuff up.