If you are one of the thousands of intended parents who are trying to conceive (ttc) via egg donation, you may be feeling overwhelmed. Your reproductive endocrinologist (RE) has probably given you a list of egg donor agencies to contact and you may not know where to start.
I have worked with intended parents since 1998, helping them find egg donors and/or surrogates. I take the time to hear each intended parent’s story and act as a guide help intended parents avoid common pitfalls as they move toward finding the right egg donor. I work with over 60 agencies across the country and have access to their egg donor databases (14,000 egg donors). I am completely independent and therefore, I have no vested interest as to which agency you choose to work with since my goal is to help you reach your goal. The following are the steps I help intended parents move through.
Step 1: Determine where you are in your fertility journey. The newer you are to the egg donor process the harder it is to choose an egg donor. The biggest step in moving forward to choose an egg donor is to grieve the loss of your biological child or, if you are the husband/male partner, the loss of having a child that is biologically related to the person you love. The key is letting go (Egg Donation and Mourning)
Step 2: Think through what is really important to you in an egg donor. For most, it is that the egg donor and her family are healthy, both mentally and physically. You will want to make sure that there are no inheritable diseases in the donor’s immediate family such as cancer or mental illness. The ‘immediate family’ usually includes her parents and siblings. It is difficult to avoid all illnesses when the immediate family extends to grandparents though mental illness should probably still be avoided. Breast and ovarian cancer in a maternal grandmother age 40 or over is less of a concern. Beyond health, most intended parents want someone who looks like they fit into their family: reasonably bright and reasonably attractive (Do’s and Don’ts of Donor Selection).
Step 3: Have realistic expectations. You can find almost anything in an egg donor but you can’t necessarily find every criterion desirable all in one person. The most important thing to remember is you can’t find yourself. You are a unique individual and so is each woman who is willing to be an egg donor. Look for someone who you can like for who she is and not for who she cannot be. There is always a certain amount of compromise in finding the best egg donor for you. There is no such thing as a perfect egg donor; the only perfect donor is the one you can [have a child with]. When it comes to fertility (and most things in life), we are not in control. If you can accept this difficult but simple truth, you have won half of the battle. (The Beautiful Epic of How a Family is Created)
Step 4: Have a back-up plan. That is one of the big advantages my clients have in working with Donor Concierge. Since I find my clients many (20-30) candidates who are currently available to cycle, I recommend that they choose their top 3-5 candidates. Then, once they have narrowed their list, contact the agencies directly to make sure their top candidates are still available. Appealing donors go quickly but, when you have access to over 14,000 egg donors as Donor Concierge does, there is no reason to get on a waiting list for an egg donor. Agencies will commit egg donors to a future cycle and donors may have every intention of doing a future cycle, but no one can predict the future (What Happens if an Egg Donor Changes Her Mind). I have seen intended parents have their hopes dashed when the donor of their dreams chooses not to do a cycle after the intended parents have waited for several months. This leaves the intended parents devastated, having wasted valuable time waiting for the help of an egg donor who is no longer available. That loss can throw intended parents back into mourning all over again, unless they have a back-up plan (Four Keys to Egg Donor Selection).
Step 5: Use the resources that are available to you. When at all possible, stay with your reproductive endocrinologist (RE). You have built a relationship with your RE and the staff at your clinic and most egg donors can travel (What is a Travel Cycle and How Does it Work? ). Working with Donor Concierge can save you time and stress and I often function as a supportive friend who you can count on to support you. I have counseled hundreds of intended parents over many years and can be a great sounding board. If I don’t have an answer to one of your questions, I usually know where to find the answer through my extensive network of professionals in the fertility industry. I can also refer you to mental health professionals, genetic counselors, and attorneys who all specialize in third party fertility. And, if you are in need of an RE, I can help you with that as well.
I started Donor Concierge after years of working within egg donor and surrogacy agencies. My goal has always been to help intended parents find what they are hoping for with realistic guidelines rather than be limited to the options within any one agency. I learned long ago that no one agency can have the right egg donor for every intended parent. I show my clients as many options as possible so that they can than narrow their choices and move forward with the least amount of stress, usually within a couple of weeks. (About Gail Sexton Anderson)