What happens if a donor changes her mind?
One of our most asked questions about the donor egg process is often, what happens if my donor changes her mind?
The honest truth is that donors don't change their minds very often but it can happen. We hope that the egg donor agencies explain the process well, but sometimes life happens. A donor may get a new job, move to a different state or even reconsider her decision to donate her eggs.
The simple answer is the intended parent finds a new donor. But the truth is that is not as easy as it sounds. Choosing an egg donor is a monumental life changing decision. If you have finally found a donor who seems ideal and then find that she can't be your donor, regardless of the reason, it can be quite devastating. While this can be devastating, it's one of the reasons why we encourage intended parents to have their 'top three donors' that they'll feel comfortable with to help create their families.
For many, losing the donor of their dreams can bring all of their struggles back to square one again. It can reopen that same grieving they thought they had at least partially put behind them when the finally found The One. They may have started to visualize their future child through this perfect donor's genetics. It can take intended parents months to recover from a setback like this depending on where they are in their fertility journey. The newer they are to the proces, the harder it is to have to go through the selection process again. Though this time around they may go through the stages of morning a bit faster, jumping from the initial disbelief very quickly to the anger at the unfairness of life and looking for someone to blame for their renewed frustration.
The intended parent unleash their frustration on whom they see as the obstacle to moving forward toward their goal. Sometimes they may want to lash out at the donor - to me, that is an exercise in frustration, as they don't have immediate contact with her. They may lash out at the agency that may or may not have any power over the situation. Donors are not employees they can change their minds and there is very little recourse. Donors usually don't have any money so they can't be sued and you can't force a donor to do an egg retrieval if she doesn't want to fulfill her commitment.
At times, though rarely, they lash out at us. If the donor fails to meet medical psychological or FDA eligibility the intended parents may take their frustration out on the psychologist, their RE or the clinic staff for enforcing rules and regulations that have been put in place to protect the intended parents and their future child/ren.
So what is the solution to this conundrum?
Time, empathy and understanding are the answers to so many things but particularly when it comes to dealing with pain and loss. You can't make the intended parents move on or to consider moving forward with what they see as a lesser donor. If they do they are likely to feel regret and resentment in the long run.
Empathy-because when an intended parent is in the middle of facing yet another loss that is when they need someone to listen to them vent, not try and fix things. They just can't hear solutions when they aren't ready.
Understanding-because no matter what we as the professionals may have in mind for our schedules, or our business if our intended parents are trying to form a family. If we do the right thing and give them the space they need they will feel heard. Being heard is something we all need but especially intended parents. If the intended parent feel heard they will share their experience with others and that in turn will benefit you and your practice.
Time can heal but combined with empathy and understanding, a new solution can be found.