Egg Donor Selection Primer
Choosing an egg donor to help you build your family is probably one of the most overwhelming decisions you will ever make. Once you have reached the point where you’re ready to accept egg donation as a positive option, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
One of the first things you should be aware of is that there are both internal egg donor programs and external egg donor agencies. Whichever avenue you choose, you need to be aware of how each program/agency works, and to have realistic expectations before starting your search.
Internal egg donor programs. If you are working with a clinic that has its own internal egg donor program, you will be encouraged to choose a donor from their program, and may actually be discouraged from choosing a donor from an external agency. If you do find an egg donor in your clinic’s database, that’s great. You have just saved yourself a lot of time, and your clinic will be happy.
But since people are all unique, there is a chance that you will not find someone who you can relate to in the clinic’s own database. The truth is that no one egg donor program or agency is going to have the right donor for every intended parent. So it is important to keep an open mind, and to know that there are thousands of possible egg donors available registered with reputable agencies.
External Egg Donor Agencies. If you choose to work with an external agency, you may pay more than you would for a clinic’s internal program, but you will also have many more egg donors to choose from. Therefore, you’re more likely to find a donor that you can relate to, who “feels familiar”, and that you can appreciate for who she is and the characteristics she will bring to your family.
Realistic Expectations. All agencies work with many intended parents, who just like you, are looking for their “perfect” donor. I often hear frustrated intended parents complain that they can’t believe that a donor they want is no longer available, when she was available just two days ago. When you decide on the donor you want and call the agency and that donor is no longer available, it can be heart-wrenching. As I tell all of my clients, if you find a donor appealing, it’s likely another intended parent will also find her appealing. The availability of donors can change in a matter of minutes. Whoever moves most quickly and makes a solid financial commitment is the party who gets to work with that donor. There are, thank goodness, no bidding wars.
Balance. You need to keep a balance between going with your heart and having realistic expectations. Go with your heart as you view donor profiles. Choose someone who you like and who looks like she could blend into your family. Don’t fixate on any particular characteristic: try to see the egg donor as a whole person, and not for who she is not and cannot be. You will not find yourself, or any other family member, in an egg donor. If that is your goal, you are virtually guaranteed to be disappointed.
There is no such thing as the perfect egg donor. But there are hundreds of wonderful egg donors who are available at any given time, and there are bound to be a few that you can feel comfortable moving forward with. If every donor you see is really distasteful to you as a possible candidate, then you may need more time to accept egg donation as an option, or you may need to broaden your search. There are wonderful, bright, healthy egg donors out there if you know where to look. They will not all be in the same place, so you need to have patience and look carefully.
Avoid waiting list. At least, don’t set your heart on working with an egg donor by putting your name on a waiting list for her next cycle or her third cycle, six months or a year from now. You’re likely setting yourself up for disappointment. I have seen too many couples come to me because their donor changed her mind and now they are back to square one, and they have lost a lot of time, and sometimes money, waiting for this “perfect donor”. These couples have been visualizing their child via that particular donor and now they have to mourn yet another loss. They often have a hard time choosing a new donor because no one seems to measure up to the donor that they missed out on. If you put your name on a waiting list, be realistic and keep looking. Realize that even though you are on the waiting list many things can happen that may change what you thought was a sure thing. Your best option is to choose 3-5 possible egg donor candidates from your donor search and if one donor is no longer available, move on to the next.
My goal is to help you to be prepared for what to expect in the egg donor recipient process. This is one of the most important decisions any family can make, and undoubtedly you have already been through a lot of emotional ups and downs. My hope is that this helps you to avoid a few pitfalls where you can, and to give you some guidance to ease you into the process.