You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know - How Donor Concierge Helps You Navigate the Journey to Parenthood
At Donor Concierge, we work with a wide cross section of individuals - captains of industry, intellectual powerhouses, international models, doctors, lawyers, teachers - straight, gay, married and single. The majority of our clients are highly educated with advanced degrees from prestigious institutions but when they find that they need an egg donor they are ALL neophytes. They don’t know what they don’t know - at least as they are getting started. For those used to being in control, the journey to parenthood via egg donation and surrogacy can be a frustrating battle that confounds even the most highly educated.
One assumption intended parents make is that they are far more ‘unique’ than they really are. Many say to me that they see women who look like them all the time. What they don’t realize is that doesn’t mean these women who look like them have signed up to be egg donors. Or that even if an egg donor candidate meets the physical requirement that her family will have a good health background or the type of education that the intended parents had in mind. Flexibility is key to choosing an egg donor. It’s important to keep in mind that you are not getting the donor herself, she will not be helping to raise the child, it is just her DNA that will be borrowed and you as the parent will have far more influence in the long run.
Another surprise intended parents may encounter is that agencies don’t always run like other businesses. We work with over 80 agencies, not all of which are equal. They all have their own way of doing things. Some are large and a bureaucratic while others are small, thoughtful but homespun. Some are willing to be flexible and will go out of their way to be accommodating while others demand the full agency fee before they will allow you to have the donor screened. Each agency has it’s own personality and some can be a bit quirky. All of the agencies we work with are reputable and because finding the right donor is paramount to our clients, sometimes it’s worth putting up with quirky for a short time in order to get the donor you want. What we will not deal with is disreputable or dishonest agencies or those that make the process more difficult for our clients. We constantly re-evaluate the agencies we work with. There are a few agencies that we will not work with because they do make the donor selection process much more difficult and can be misleading.
Donor Concierge offers an insider’s view from an independent and neutral perch. What we have to offer beyond our vast access to agency databases is knowledge of a field and an industry that no one else has. We know the agencies, the clinics, attorneys and all of the other players because we have helped hundreds of intended parents through this process. We are Switzerland in a highly competitive field. We are not competing with any of these entities but rather are working hand-in-hand with them. As an independent service, we do not receive any referral fees from any one but our clients who compensate us for our time and expertise.
People come to us for our ability to help them to find the ‘ideal’ egg donor or surrogate through our broad access to agencies, but what they get is far more valuable. We have no vested interest in whom they choose but only to help them to find the best options available through trusted agencies.
The cast of characters starts with you the intended parent(s) and quickly builds to add your RE and her/his staff, the egg donor, possibly a gestational carrier, a psychologist or two, a couple of attorneys. Before you choose you egg donor/gestational carrier you will need to deal with several donor/surrogacy agencies each with a different password, different set of questions and data. Each has their own set of rules and policies and they are all different. If you are looking for uniformity you will not find it. It is never an apple to apple comparison. Before you know it you are devoting all of your time to pouring over databases and running after agencies only to find that the donor or surrogate you like has slipped through your fingers, again.
It can and is overwhelming! Intended parents have to keep many plates spinning at any given point in time. Clinics and agencies speak their own language and may assume that you are as fluent in this language too. It is not because they are cavalier but more because they are immersed in this world day in and day out, just as any business or industry has its own lingo that outsiders don’t understand. We know this industry and we know the agencies. We are often the buffer to help to move the process forward for our clients. We can act as the liaison to help get the answers you need and make sure the information gets where it needs to go. We can help to make sense of what can often seem like a crazy and difficult to manage world. We aim to bring sanity to the process, saving you time and stress, when all you want is to have a baby.
Gail Sexton Anderson is the founder of Donor Concierge. She has been working with intended parents, guiding them through egg donation and surrogacy for nearly two decades.