Donor Concierge and Chinese Fertility Patients
I created Donor Concierge to help intended parents find what they were hoping for in an ovum donor rather than try to talk them into an available donor that was in the database of the agency I was working with. With ten years’ experience working within egg donor and surrogacy agencies, I learned that no single donor agency would have the right candidate for each intended parent. Intended parents wanted choice.
When I launched Donor Concierge in 2006, my very first client was a Chinese woman who was looking for an egg donor. Although I was just beginning to develop agency relationships, I found her 20 viable candidates. Since then I have worked with over a hundred Chinese clients with 45 of them coming to me in the last year. With our network of 80 egg donor agencies and 40 surrogacy agencies, we are able to provide 20 – 40 egg donors and/or 3 – 5 potential surrogates for each intended parent.
Part of my goal for Donor Concierge was to offer cultural sensitivity and understanding to our clients. When I began my career in working with international intended parents, egg donor agencies were suggesting that Chinese and East Indian couples choose Hispanic egg donors because she had dark hair and dark eyes (and because they didn’t have available Chinese or Indian egg donors). I thought this was insensitive and insulting and so did the intended parents. In my experience, although there may not be many Asian candidates available from any single agency, they are out there if one knows were to look. Donor Concierge knows where to look.
I was also frustrated by the quality and caliber of egg donor candidates who were being offered. Donor Concierge has a higher standard for egg donor health histories than many agencies simply because we don’t have a vested interest in any single candidate. The donors we send have already been vetted by Donor Concierge to eliminate those with hereditary illnesses and addiction issues. Furthermore, most of Donor Concierge’s clients tend to be highly educated with advanced degrees who are looking for college educated young woman with a drive to succeed. My experience has been the same, no matter where the intended parents are from.
The more traditional the intended parents, the more inflexible they are with the idea of choosing an egg donor who is not of the same ethnic origin (i.e. Chinese want Chinese). Some of my clients have even have asked if it is possible to learn what village the egg donors’ family of origin is from (which, for the record, is not usually an option). If the Chinese intended parents are more westernized or more cosmopolitan, they may be open to a Japanese or Korean donor and, in a few cases, they may even prefer Caucasian if the donor is fair with dark hair and dark eyes.
It can be an even bigger leap for a Chinese woman to accept that she may need an egg donor. I am working with a 50 year old Chinese woman right now to find a surrogate for another clinic who is insisting that she will use her own eggs. The clinic is appeasing her with one cycle since she will not listen to their recommendations.
A recent article on fertility awareness in Asia highlights the pervasive ignorance among both men and women in Asia. According to a survey on fertility topics, women in Asia “are largely ignorant about fertility problems and tend to blame their failure to conceive on "God's will" and bad luck”. Part of Donor Concierge’s goal is to educate intended parents seeking fertility treatment about third-party reproduction. We do that through our website which has been translated into Chinese and through direct communication through Gloria Li, our Chinese case manager.
An example of our experience working with Asian intended parents was with Ting-Ting (not her name), a native of mainland China referred to us by CCRM. Ting-Ting was looking for a 100% Chinese egg donor and, since she was only here in the United States for a short time, she needed to make her arrangements quickly. Because her English was limited, she worked directly with Cici. Speaking in Mandarin made a big difference for her peace of mind. Cici helped put Ting-Ting at ease. As she listened to Ting-Ting’s fertility story, Cici was able to explain to her what Donor Concierge could do to help her.
Cici conducted a detailed egg donor search and helped Ting-Ting narrow her selection to two excellent candidates. Cici acted as the liaison between Ting-Ting and the agencies to ask all of the questions that Ting-Ting had regarding the donors she liked best and helped her to reserve both candidates so that her clinic could then help her to decide which would be the most viable candidate for her upcoming cycle.
My goal for Donor Concierge is to be the most effective, the most knowledgeable, and the most compassionate service for Asian intended parents seeking an egg donor and/or surrogate as part of their fertility treatment. We are organized and managed to do just that.