Donor Concierge - 博客供稿https://www.donorconcierge.com/zh/blog Kirby Tue, 27 Apr 2021 00:00:00 -0400 我们博客的近期更新 International Donor Conception Awareness Day: Founder Jana Rupnow's Storyhttps://www.donorconcierge.com/blog/donor-conception-awareness-day-jana-rupnow-s-story blog/donor-conception-awareness-day-jana-rupnow-s-story Tue, 27 Apr 2021 00:00:00 -0400 Today, April 27, is the first annual International Donor Conception Awareness Day, a landmark day celebrating and advocating for donor conception. We are proud to be a founding member of a day that celebrates our company’s mission and advocates for the people on all sides of donor conception.

We sat down with Donor Conception Awareness Day founder and fertility therapist Jana Rupnow to learn more about Donor Conception Awareness Day’s mission and the personal story that inspired this effort.

How did Donor Conception Awareness Day come about?
The issues of fertility, family building and nontraditional family awareness have always been close to my heart. I was adopted, and I experienced the process of working through my family and my genetic links firsthand. My husband and I also struggled with secondary infertility before pursuing adoption for our second child.

I started my private practice, counseling infertile couples pursing adoption and my fertility doctor actually recommended that I branch into counseling for those pursuing third party fertility treatments, and it was an immediate fit.

Though the paths to building a family are different, there are similar issues in families with genetic differences. I understand the loss of genetic information and I saw the same concerns coming up in many families I counseled. So many people have shared experiences when it comes to family building, but there’s still so much confusion and shame around the topic when we don’t do it the “traditional way.”

I wrote my book, Three Makes Baby, in the hopes that I could help support a larger audience experiencing these issues. I’ve seen how powerful it is to speak openly about these issues, and I wanted to do more to raise awareness and connect people – so International Donor Conception Awareness Day was born!

How do you think DCAD will impact families that used donor conception?
I’m hoping the day will help families begin talking about donor conception more openly. They often want to talk about it, but they just don’t know how to bring it up. They wonder when to start having the conversation.

I’m hoping the day will prompt families to bring up their story and learn that they aren’t alone! Having an internationally recognized awareness day legitimizes the issues of donor conception. Lifting the secrecy and shame surrounding donor conception is important to help grow healthy families.

Do you think people today are more open about donor conception than they were years ago? Have you seen a change in perspective over the years?
Yes, I’ve found that people are more open, especially in the last few years. A big part of that change is due to social media. You’re able to create an account and control how much personal information you’re sharing. With the stigma around donor conception, these online communities can provide a private space for people to connect and learn together. Also, connecting and speaking out online allows people to build a community across national boundaries.

Infertility and nontraditional family building people can bring up painful feelings and people are dealing with emotional, social and family challenges that make them feel they need to keep their story a secret. Social media has allowed people to find communities and resources that would otherwise be hard to find.

What change do you hope International Donor Conception Awareness Day will bring?
My ultimate goal for this day is that it will encourage people to come together to start improving the standards for both donor conceived families and donors themselves. Fertility technology is constantly improving and the long-term psychological and emotional support needs to catch up. We’re a fragmented field, but we can do a much better job for everyone involved. We just have to work together. I’m hoping this is the start of a new era of helping families.

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Wuhan Baby: A Surrogacy Storyhttps://www.donorconcierge.com/blog/wuhan-baby-a-surrogacy-story blog/wuhan-baby-a-surrogacy-story Fri, 19 Mar 2021 00:00:00 -0400 When we had our first consultation with Amy and Jeff, parents from Wuhan, China, we had no idea that their journey to have a child would take twists and turns through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amy and Jeff met with us in May 2019 for an in-person consultation, and we were immediately captivated by the love and drive they felt to build their family. We discussed their specific needs, their fertility plan, and left the conversation excited to help them make their biggest dream come true: having a baby. After five years of grueling fertility treatment, they were now turning to a gestational surrogate to carry their precious baby.

They were eager to start their surrogacy search, but they agreed to wait ultimately postponed until Amy completed her egg retrieval. Knowing how many embryos are available is part of our surrogate matching process and In October of 2019, Amy and Jeff found out that of the five embryos they had created, three were normal — two girls and one boy. They were overjoyed with the result and returned to their home town of Wuhan, China. Amy and Jeff were eager to get started and we began the search for their gestational carrier, reaching out to the 60+ agency partners to find out who might be a good fit for them.

Within two weeks, we found Amy and Jeff a wonderful surrogate who lived close to their clinic in Northern California. Once we received initial approval of her labour and delivery records from their reproductive endocrinologist, we helped arrange a match meeting between their potential surrogate and Amy and Jeff. Everyone agreed it was a perfect fit and even though they spoke a different language, there was a union between everyone involved. It truly felt like the stars had aligned. The next step for them was to transfer a deposit for the agency fee and start the process of getting the gestational carrier ready for transfer of her precious cargo.

Back in Amy and Jeff’s hometown of Wuhan, China, the devastation of the Covid-19 pandemic spread. We received a panicked call from Amy and Jeff. Banks had locked down, but they needed to transfer funds to their surrogate’s agency. As uncertainty grew, we stepped in to work everything out with their gestational carrier, her agency, and their attorney Richard Vaughn of the International Fertility Law Group.

Spring of 2020 came and went, and as the world buckled under the weight of COVID-19, here in the US, lockdowns began and everyone in America was scrambling. As an essential medical service, Donor Concierge stayed open, but we knew from our conversations with Amy and Jeff, that the worst was yet to come.

And as we in the United States dealt with the pandemic, we learned that despite all the odds, Amy and Jeff’s gestational carrier was pregnant with their child.

Unable to travel to the US to attend ultrasound appointments or pregnancy screenings, Amy and Jeff, their surrogate, agency and Donor Concierge kept in constant contact. When they heard hearing that the US was running out of PPE, Amy and Jeff shipped two boxes of masks to our office from Wuhan, arriving on the first day of lockdown in March 2020. The gesture touched our hearts. In the midst of their own chaos, their generosity and care from half a world away was inspiring to our entire team.

Finally, their baby girl was born on January 20th, 2021 - our first Donor Concierge baby of 2021! And what a special little girl she is - we felt like everything had come full circle.

As we reach the one year mark since COVID-19 lockdowns began in the U.S., we can’t help but think of Amy and Jeff’s empathy, sincerity and perseverance in the face of such a difficult situation.

This week, one year after this terrible pandemic took hold, Amy and Jeff took their baby home to China.

Against all odds, Amy and Jeff were able to complete their dream of starting a family. Their story reminds us of our mission as a company: helping parents have the baby they always wanted. We don’t know what lies ahead in 2021, but we are more committed than ever to help hopeful parents who are standing where Amy and Jeff started.

Amy and Jeff – we are so grateful to have been a part of your journey, and we’re wishing your family all the best in 2021!

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Egg Donation: To Tell or Not to Tell…https://www.donorconcierge.com/blog/egg-donation-to-tell-or-not-to-tell blog/egg-donation-to-tell-or-not-to-tell Tue, 02 Mar 2021 00:00:00 -0500 Almost 11 years ago, I was told that my IVF had failed and that my only option for carrying a baby was likely going to involve genetic material that was not my own. Ending up with a BFN (big, fat negative) was hard enough to hear but being told that my own eggs were probably not abundant, or even quality ones, was a punch to the gut. My body never really responded the way it should have to the follicle-stimulating medications.

My husband and I were devastated but a few hours after hearing this news, I was softening up to the idea of giving egg donation a try. I recognize that every person who takes the egg donor route has a different story, a different response, a different time frame, and a different action. My defense mechanism for handling bad news has always been to immediately look for a solution, and that is exactly what I did. The next day, I called our RE (reproductive endocrinologist) and told him we were open to exploring egg donation.

There are so many fears, questions, anxieties one feels when going through this process. One major fear was if or how to tell our future child that he/she was conceived via egg donation. Our fertility clinic strongly urged us to seek counseling regarding the whole process. We were lucky that we had a psychologist who “got” us. She gently made suggestions on when to tell the child (never assuming we would not tell), what books to read, what age to tell the future child, etc.

Fast forward several months later, I received a call that I finally got my BFP (big, fat positive)! I already knew because I cheated and took a home pregnancy test after my blood test at the doctor. Nine months later, our beautiful daughter arrived. She was absolutely perfect.

Our daughter was almost 5 when we sat her down and told her the story of her beginning. We read a book to her called, “Mommy, Was Your Tummy Big?” By Carolina Nadel, which was age-appropriate and very touching. I had practiced reading it a few times before we actually read it to her to “rehearse” and get any tears out of the way. It did not do a lot of good as I cried anyway as we read it to her. She asked a few questions and then ran off to play. All of our worries over how she would react to the news dissipated.

Our therapist’s suggestions were spot on. She suggested the following:

  • Tell the child early. She advised us to tell our daughter around preschool age.
  • Distinguish between donor and parent. I am forever grateful to the donor who gave us the gift of her eggs. We told our daughter that the donor’s eggs were the missing “ingredient” we needed to have her.
  • Keep the lines of communication open. Even though my daughter really did not understand all the moving parts of the egg donor process as a five-year old, she really started asking questions as an 8, 9 and 10 year old. Again, our choice is to be very honest with her.
  • Respect your child’s feelings. As our daughter gets older, we expect there will be more questions about her maternal genetics. As I mentioned above, our choice is to be open and honest with her.

Every egg donation journey is unique and special, but mostly, it is a journey built with love.

Carla (not her real name) is a former Donor Concierge client who shared her story with us to help others feel confident about their decision to choose an egg donation journey to create their families. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help find your egg donor, contact us today.

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LGBTQ Family Building: How much does it cost?https://www.donorconcierge.com/blog/lgbtq-family-building-how-much-does-it-cost blog/lgbtq-family-building-how-much-does-it-cost Mon, 01 Mar 2021 00:00:00 -0500 Family building options have come a long way in the last couple of decades, and same-sex couples and “nontraditional” families have more access than ever before to fertility and family building choices. There are many pieces to the family-building puzzle and it can feel overwhelming to start the process! So we’re breaking down the costs for LGBT parents and beyond.

Sperm Donation
There’s a range of costs associated with all aspects of fertility – sperm donation seems straightforward but the costs can vary! At-home insemination may be under $1,000, but sperm donation may exceed $50,000 if you require IUI or IVF. Clinic fees, medications, egg retrieval, embryo creation, and transfer all have varying costs associated. But don’t let the price tag scare you too much – working with your fertility doctor will help you figure out exactly what you need.

How much does Egg Donation and Surrogacy cost?
Many couples use an egg donor or gestational carrier to conceive, and when you’re a two-dad couple, you may end up using both. Again, there is a wide range of costs here. Costs will differ based on what you need, where you are looking, and your individual insurance coverage.

Egg donation financing usually includes the donor costs, legal fees, clinic costs, psychological and medical evaluations, insurance plans, and more, which can cost around $20,000 to $40,000+. Donor Concierge provides intended parents with streamlined support navigating the complexities of this process and can in the end save money by ensuring that intended parents choose an egg donor who is likely to provide optimal results.

Surrogacy often goes hand in hand with egg donation, and is also a complex process, involving many moving parts. Common costs associated with surrogacy include:

  • Agency fees of $20,000 to $40,000 to match parents with a surrogate
  • The surrogate's compensation, which can range from $25,000 to $60,000 depending on experience and location
  • Life and medical insurance for the surrogate can range from $5000 to $30,000
  • The IVF transfer to the surrogate which ranges from $7,000 to $9,000 per cycle
  • The medications at $600 to $3,000 depending on insurance
  • Attorney and escrow fees from $15,000
  • Smaller needs of the surrogate like a clothing allowance and parking fees for doctor's visits
  • Estimates for the entire surrogacy process range from $100,000 to $200,000

Many parents are able to drastically reduce these costs if they find a friend or family member willing to donate their eggs or be a gestational carrier. However, many of us don’t have that option. Luckily, there are ways to navigate these costs and get the best financing options possible.

Health Insurance and Company Benefits:
To finance fertility treatments, first check your insurance coverage in your state.
California and Texas have laws that require insurance companies to offer coverage for infertility treatment. Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, and West Virginia have laws around infertility diagnosis and treatment coverage.

Many larger companies are now offering generous fertility benefits through companies like Carrot Fertility, Progyny or Kindbody, hoping to attract people who understand the value of preserving their fertility. Always check with your HR department and see what fertility benefits are offered.

Fertility Financing Options:
Organizations offering these loans include Prosper Healthcare Lending, New Life Fertility Finance, and CapexMD. Many of these plans depend on estimated costs provided by doctors or agencies, and offer access to loans up to $100,000. EggFund and EmBorrow are additional fertility loan matching resources.

Fertility loans can be a good option, but some of these loans can have high interest rates, so make sure you know what you're accepting before moving forward. And if you’re having difficulty navigating the financials of your fertility journey, companies like Seed Coach can help you make a plan.

With awareness of surrogacy and egg donation growing, more options are becoming available to intended parents. Aside from insurance coverage and fertility loans, fertility and surrogacy grants are becoming an increasingly common option. The Tinina Q. Cade Foundation, Baby Quest Foundation, Pay it Forward Fertility, Family Formation Charitable Trust, Journey to Parenthood Grant, Parental Hope, and Life Grants are LGBT-friendly foundations that offer grants to intended parents who are unable to cover costs of IVF or surrogacy. Family Equality also shares a list of additional LGBT-friendly grant resources. Many grants typically cover up to $10,000.

Alternative Routes
Many intended parents save money by using less conventional avenues, from finding egg donors or surrogates through personal connections, fundraising, or comparing costs of medications in other countries. One mother even set up her company as a C-Corporation, so she could run all surrogacy-related expenses through the business, deductible as employee benefit expenses. While the DIY approach may seem like a cheaper alternative, remember that you get what you pay for – experts in the field, like agencies and reproductive attorneys can help you save money by not making common mistakes. Tread very carefully if you try to do this on your own.

In Conclusion
While there are options for parents struggling with infertility, the best way to ultimately save money across the board is to reach out to experts, ask questions, and research. Every family is different and every intended parent’s situation is unique -- some may save money by opting to “DIY” aspects of their journey, while others may save money by finding an agency or organization that can do the work more quickly. Additionally, there are some grants and foundations specifically catered to certain regions, religious groups, and communities.

The key is to communicate with doctors, professionals, and your own support system, so that you can begin this process with as much information about your needs as possible. Luckily, there is a great community of other parents and experts who are eager to offer advice and resources as you start your journey.

And above all, know that you aren’t alone in this process. Many out there are facing the same struggles, and parents, legislators, doctors and experts across the country and world are advocating for more fertility support and access.

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Should I Wait Until the Pandemic Is Over?https://www.donorconcierge.com/blog/five-reasons-not-to-delay-fertility-treatment blog/five-reasons-not-to-delay-fertility-treatment Mon, 15 Feb 2021 00:00:00 -0500 Should we wait until the pandemic is over to build our family?

That’s a question we’ve received countless times over the past year. We talk to hundreds of hopeful parents and here’s what we know.

We know there’s no one size fits all answer -- we’re all living through the pandemic together, and we all have completely different fertility needs, experiences, and emotional bandwidth. Knowing whether you’re ready to pursue an egg donation or surrogacy journey is deeply personal. But for those who do know they’re ready, but are concerned about the obstacles COVID-19 presents, here are our 5 reasons why you can feel confident that now is a great time to start the egg donor process or find a gestational surrogate.

The Covid Vaccine is now available
We’ve been guided by our medical partners and are confident in recent guidance recently published. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) stated:

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, patients have had questions about the impact of the virus on their health. Now, as the rollout of the COVID vaccines progresses, patients similarly have questions about whether the vaccine is right for their individual health needs.

“As experts in reproductive health, we continue to recommend that the vaccine be available to pregnant individuals. We also assure patients that there is no evidence that the vaccine can lead to loss of fertility. While fertility was not specifically studied in the clinical trials of the vaccine, no loss of fertility has been reported among trial participants or among the millions who have received the vaccines since their authorization, and no signs of infertility appeared in animal studies. Loss of fertility is scientifically unlikely.”

Fertility is Essential
Fertility treatments and family building are essential services, but we probably don’t need to tell you that. Everyone going through fertility struggles has felt the pressure of a ticking clock, and that doesn’t stop just because everything else did. Unfortunately, many hopeful parents feel like waiting is simply not an option. Fertility professionals know the kind of pressure hopeful parents can be under, which is why we’ve all remained tirelessly at work during the pandemic. We’re here to support you through this journey, no matter what else is going on in the world.If you’re ready, we’re here for you.

Fertility Clinics have adapted
Fertility clinics and other fertility professionals have taken drastic steps to safeguard patient safety and are working with state guidelines and industry recommendations. Many fertility clinics are requiring all parties to have recent, negative COVID tests and/or a two week quarantine for out of state patients prior to treatment. If you’re nervous about how COVID-19 could affect your family building plans, your clinic will be able to help. The emphasis on safety and strict enforcement of regulations may feel scary, but fertility clinics are truly doing their best to help patients achieve their goals while keeping everyone involved safe and healthy. Fertility professionals understand the stress their patients are under, and they are working to support parents and donors as they navigate their safest options.

You Know What You Want
Spending more time than ever at home and seeing our normal activities and patterns disappear has made many of us stop and reevaluate. In a time of stress and uncertainty, we’ve had to refocus on what matters most. For some of us, that means building a family.

Founder of Donor Concierge, Gail Sexton Anderson, says 2020 was challenging, but priorities shifted. “We had more calls from intended parents who needed our help. I think the pandemic made a lot of people stop and re-evaluate what’s important to them. Plus, the fact that many of us have been working successfully at home means that the juggling act of work/family seems less daunting.”

This has been a period of chaos. Losing jobs, changing employment, trying to safely connect with family and friends, protecting our health, finding new ways to occupy our time. A lot has changed over the past year. If your desire to build a family has not, and if in fact it’s grown stronger, then that is a sign that you should not ignore. There is never a “perfect time” to bring a child into the world, but the best time is when you know that you’re ready.

More options than ever
The pandemic has added stress to an already stressful situation. . But you actually have more family building options than ever before. Our team works to do the heavy lifting for you and will walk you through everything you need to know. If you’re looking for expert support, we’ve got you!

Having more ‘at home’ time may even give you time to process all of your options. Starting a donor or surrogacy journey may feel daunting because there’s so much uncertainty, but that’s where your Donor Concierge case manager comes in.

Gloria Li, Program Director for Donor Concierge says things are changing rapidly, but she and her team are keeping on top of the latest information.

“We talk to our agency partners and clinic coordinators every day. For every clinic, we’ve got a list of the protocols they are implementing due to Covid. “These are the logistics we think about when we are presenting a donor or surrogate candidate. We want to find out how long the clinic will require her to be there, and make sure that any egg donor or surrogate candidate is willing and comfortable to possibly extend her stay to accommodate covid quarantines.”

Gloria says the agencies, egg donors and surrogates have been incredibly accommodating. “Everyone is fearful and we know that intended parents are feeling the stress. I’ve noticed that all our partners are eager and willing to be flexible with many things including hold fees, testing and even delaying the cycle until everyone is ready to start. "

Whether you’re looking for a clinic, advice on choosing a donor, fertility therapy, or more, Donor Concierge has access to countless professionals providing remote support and guidance. And if you want to tackle the egg donor search on your own, companies like Tulip Fertility provide you a new and unique option that you can access from the comfort of your home.

Ready to start your journey or have more questions? Schedule a consultation with a Donor Concierge team member now.

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New York Allows Compensated Surrogacyhttps://www.donorconcierge.com/blog/new-york-allows-compensated-surrogacy blog/new-york-allows-compensated-surrogacy Mon, 15 Feb 2021 00:00:00 -0500 For many New Yorkers, building a family through surrogacy meant they had to go outside of the state. But now, a new law called the Child Parent Security Act, passed in April 2020 and going in effect on Monday 15th February, 2021, in New York state means compensated gestational surrogacy is now legal.

According to Richard Vaughn, surrogacy law expert and attorney at the International Fertility Law Group, "This is long-awaited reform. It removes a significant obstacles to surrogacy and protects the rights of intended parents to create families through assisted reproduction. And it helps remove the stigma, and the insecurity that were faced by non-traditional families as well.

Vaughn says the new laws are strict and must be adhered to by all parties, including intended parents, agencies, attorneys and fertility clinics, but is now in place to protect all parties from potential harm.

While there is still some 'clean-up' work to be done on the bill, the new laws mean access to gestational surrogacy in the state of New York is available to all hopeful parents.

The full webinar with Richard Vaugh , NY Surrogacy: A Legal Update can be found on the Donor Concierge Youtube channel.

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Miscarriage: Are You Ok?https://www.donorconcierge.com/blog/are-you-ok blog/are-you-ok Wed, 27 Jan 2021 00:00:00 -0500 In this deeply personal blog, Gail explains how her own experience of miscarriage shaped her view of infertility, and the struggles faced by all who experience it.

Recently, I read Megan Markle’s unique opinion piece in the New York Times detailing her experience with miscarriage. The Losses We Share is unique not just because Megan is high-profile, but that she spoke publicly about a topic that is often swept aside and shrouded in private grief. The unfortunate effect of keeping the grief of miscarriage private is that many women who have been through this may feel that the loss is shameful or insignificant. In reality it is neither. It is the loss of a much anticipated child that will never be.

I had been trying to get pregnant and when I missed my period, I was delighted to find that the home pregnancy test I took was positive. I was elated as I had worried that I would be one of the many who experiences secondary infertility. I already had my son but it was taking much longer to get pregnant this time around. I desperately wanted to have a second child and I was sure this was going to be my little girl. I shared the positive results with friends and family, not waiting the recommended 12 weeks. It never occurred to me that I would have a miscarriage.

Three weeks after I had taken the home pregnancy test, I woke up feeling cramps and noticed I was spotting. I felt hot all over and felt like I was going to faint. I laid down on the bathroom floor against the cool tiles. In my first pregnancy I had spotted, so I thought this was normal. I got ready for work and drove the 45 minutes from my home to the Yale New Haven Hospital where I was working. The bleeding had continued and increased significantly. I told my coworker that I thought I was having a miscarriage and he sugested I go home. I called my husband to meet me and he took me to our local hospital. I had never had a period that started like this.

As Megan shares her story she mentions a thoughtful reporter asking her, “Are you ok?” This is something that often doesn’t happen. I remember when I experienced my miscarriage, I was in the emergency room and a young cavalier male intern said to me “what kind of pregnancy test did you take anyway. You weren’t even pregnant.” This caused me to feel guilty like I had wasted his time. How rude of me to think I was pregnant. In retrospect, now that I know much more than I did then, I may have experienced a blighted ovum. But in my mind, I was pregnant.

I left the hospital feeling ashamed and embarrassed. It took about 24 hours for the grief to hit me that I was not going to be having that baby that I had been trying for, visualizing and longing for. Even now, more than 26 years later, I can feel the pain that I felt then as I write this. I can also still feel the shame. I was in a small group at my church and we had a meeting that weekend. I didn’t feel like seeing people so my husband went without me. He told them what had happened and out of that group of at least a dozen only one reached out to ask me how I was doing. No one else acknowledged my loss. No one else asked, “Are you ok?”

I don’t hold that against these normally kind and caring people. Most people don’t really know how respond to loss and maybe especially when it’s an early miscarriage. They may be like the thoughtless intern and not see it as a real pregnancy. But it is. To anyone who has experienced a miscarriage at any stage of their pregnancy, it is a significant loss.

I did go on to have a second child – my longed-for daughter – who is now 26. So, along with my 30-year old son, my story has a happy ending.

I think my experience helped me to have an inkling of what fertility patients may be going through. We can never discount anyone’s experiences. Though something along the lines of 80% of women will experience a miscarriage that doesn’t mean we dismiss it. It may be common but it is not insignificant. It has played a big role in why I have chosen my life's work. I founded both Donor Concierge and Tulip to give anyone who is dealing with fertility issues a voice. We are too often silenced and made to feel that our need for choice, education and support are inconvenient. We need to feel that we have been heard. Whatever your struggle may be it is real.

Be kind, be thoughtful.

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"Reach Out and Do Something for Somebody Else"https://www.donorconcierge.com/blog/reach-out-and-do-something-for-somebody-else blog/reach-out-and-do-something-for-somebody-else Wed, 20 Jan 2021 00:00:00 -0500 This article originally appeared on Thrive Global

As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Gail Sexton Anderson.

Gail is a Harvard-trained counselor with over 20 years of experience helping intended parents, and one of the fertility industry’s leading innovators and creative thinkers. After doing postgraduate research at Yale, she started two egg donor agencies, became the executive director of one of the top surrogacy programs in the United States, and founded Donor Concierge. Gail is a past Executive Director of the Society for Ethics in Egg Donation & Surrogacy.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

My background is in psychology. I have a master’s in counseling from Harvard Graduate School of Education. Twenty-five years ago, I started working in what is often referred to as Third Party Fertility, which basically means when it takes more than two people to create a baby.

Typically, No one grows up thinking “I can’t wait to pick my egg donor so that I can have a baby.” It is a very emotional and difficult decision. Often the medical community approached it like a mathematical equation; if you don’t have good eggs just replace them. But for the intended parent (the future mother or father) who could not be genetically connected to her/his child it is far more complicated.

As I started working with intended parents through egg donor and surrogacy agencies, I found my passion was to help intended parents find what they wanted rather than saying here: want what I have and move on. Eggs are not just widgets in a manufacturing process they are half of what will create a future child and it is easiest for a future parent to make this decision if they feel like they like and know the person.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

I think my most interesting case was helping a transgender woman to create her family. Before she transitioned her mother encouraged her to save her sperm so that someday she would be able to have a child who was genetically related to her. She married and she and her husband were ready to create embryos so they could start planning their family. She and her husband were very supportive of each other and we had the honor of helping them to find an egg donor.

I’ve helped so many couples to create families over the years and this was really no different from the perspective of their desire to form a family. The biggest difference was the intended mothers fear of possible rejection by the donor, and the surrogate. Here is someone who has found love and as a couple they want to share that love by creating a family.

I’m happy to report that they didn’t face any rejection at all. We believe in total transparency and didn’t want to take a chance that anyone involved in helping to create this family might later feel misled. Everyone should be comfortable with who they help to create a family, The donor, surrogate, medical team were all very supportive and the couple are now happy parents.

Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

In the early days of launching Donor Concierge I knew I needed to get some traction in AdWords so that couples could find me. That year I earned 30,000 dollars. I had spent 25,000 dollars on AdWords. I learned it costs a lot of money to be seen on the internet and I needed to find someone who understood online marketing better.

I reverted to the strength of building relationships by calling on clinics and talking to doctors and clinic staff about the importance of choice for intended parents. There is a balance between finding a donor who feels right to the future parents and also has good ovarian reserve. It is a very nuanced balance.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I would have to say that I am most grateful to my husband, Terry Anderson, the Co-Founder of TULIP. He supported me at every step in my desire to be an advocate and liaison for intended parents. I could not have done this without his unwavering support.

I also have an amazing team of women who work for me — most of them have struggled with fertility issues and they sort of ‘found’ this career after realizing that helping others through this journey becomes a passion. My team consists of women who have worked as attorneys, television producers, marketing executives — and three of them speak fluent Mandarin! We’re like a family — we support each other and our clients with as much love and respect as we can.

Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

There are thousands of individuals and couples each year who are looking for the right egg donor to complete their family. Finding a donor is extremely disjointed. Many people are not even aware of their options. They leave their fertility clinic devastated by the news that they need an egg donor and are handed maybe a few agencies to review or the limited options of their clinic’s in-house donor database. This can work for some people, but in my experience, it’s important to find a donor who feels like she’d fit into your family — if there are things that are important to you, like religion or ethnicity, it’s not always an easy task.

Before TULIP if you were looking for an egg donor you would have to register on each egg donor agency, log in with a password and learn how to navigate each site which are all a bit different. Then they would need to keep track of who they liked and what site they were on. This is a hugely emotional decision and having to go from site to site is overwhelming for most people.

It has been my dream for many years to help people to find what they need with a supportive and less chaotic process. Many couples walk away from fertility treatment if they can’t find the right egg donor — someone who looks like they could fit into their family.

I wanted to take that frustration and emotional turmoil out of the donor search. TULIP has aggregated donors from 90% of the agencies in the U.S. (close to 20,000 egg donors) on one site. They can set up a portfolio of their favorite donor candidates and collect all of the donors they like in one place and even rank them in order of preference. They can communicate with the agencies through a portal without ever leaving the TULIP site.

Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.

  • Get support from a mental health professional, and more importantly, someone who specializes in assisted reproduction and fertility issues.

  • Restructure your perspective on family building in a positive way.

  • Don’t be afraid to grieve — letting go of your genetics is a loss and it’s okay to feel sad and angry. It’s a necessary step to accepting the egg donation process.

  • Learn to let go. None of us are in control.

  • Reach outside of yourself and do something for someone else — it’s very easy to get lost in your own struggles. Helping others can also benefit your own healing and help you to move forward.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

If I could start a movement it would be one of transparency and support around donor conception and gestational surrogacy. Egg donation is sort of the last ‘taboo’ in fertility treatment. I would hope that those who need a donor would feel more comfortable sharing their stories to help others. I believe that there is so much to be gained from openness and honesty. That’s why I lean toward the idea of having a national registry of donors. We need to think beyond conception. When a couple is trying to conceive it is their story. Once they have that baby in their arms, it is their family’s story and their child may want or need more information in the future. With the availability of DNA testing, there is no such thing as anonymity. And there’s also no shame in having a different sort of family creation story.

I encourage families to be open with their children right from the beginning and start talking about how their family was created. Practice while you are pregnant so that you get comfortable with your family origins story. Create a book where you and your child are the stars and the grandparents, doctors, nurses and the donor are all supporting characters. Children love to hear stories about themselves and they don’t have preconceived ideas about what is “normal.” There are so many ways that families are created, and each family is complete and perfect just how it is and there is nothing missing. You might have a two-day family, a one dad family, a mom and a dad, two mom’s or one mom. We need to change our lexicon on how families are formed to embrace reality.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

  • Network Network Network — it’s the only way to build up relationships. I visited hundreds of fertility clinics, multiple times, until people started to understand what I do. Many of them had never considered the idea that their patients might want support through this journey.

  • Don’t get discouraged! When you have a clear vision and keep listening to that little voice that’s shouting ‘you’re on the right path! It may take longer than you think it will — sometimes it may seem like the timeline for startups is ‘idea, development, success’. That’s misleading. Ignore what you THINK you SHOULD achieve and focus on what you CAN achieve.

  • Don’t keep looking over your shoulder at who you think is coming up behind you. Keep looking forward and don’t look over your shoulder at who you perceive to be the competition.

  • There are always new ways to look at any problem. Third party fertility is always a twisty road — when you’re dealing with so many people from the fertility clinics, to egg donors, agencies, surrogates — things don’t always go according to plan. I tell my staff that we’re in the business of solving problems and no problem is too great to solve.

  • Do the right thing and people will come — take care of people. Don’t focus on the money. I remember thinking, if I could pay for just one semester of my son’s college tuition, I would have accomplished something. I didn’t go into this to make money; I went into it to help people. Success isn’t just monetary — it’s the birth announcements and testimonials that make it so satisfying.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

Mental health is, and always will be my passion. Infertility is a silent plague that people don’t talk about and the more secretive the infertilite are the more alone others who are also suffering from infertility feel. Many people try to work through their struggle to become parents in a vacuum without realizing that they are far from alone. Infertility is quite common. The fact that one is having difficulty conceiving is painful not shameful.

Natural conception at its peak is about 20% if all things are optimal. By the time a woman is in her late thirties’ early forties her chances of conceiving naturally with her own eggs are down to 5% or less.

If more people were willing to speak up about their fertility challenges and admit they needed to use an egg donor to create their family they could be encouraging to so many women who are struggling rather than saying well this famous person had a baby at 45 I can too. Very few women (less than 1%) are conceiving with their own eggs at 45.

— Published on December 25, 2020
AUTHORITY MAGAZINE,
WONDER

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"When Are You Giving Us a Grandchild?": Tips for Talking Fertility with Familyhttps://www.donorconcierge.com/blog/so-when-are-you-giving-us-a-grandchild-3-tips-for-talking-fertility-with-family blog/so-when-are-you-giving-us-a-grandchild-3-tips-for-talking-fertility-with-family Mon, 21 Dec 2020 00:00:00 -0500 When my mother asked me “When am I going to hear the pitter patter of little feet?” it absolutely crushed me. She meant well, but I hadn’t told her the full extent of my fertility journey. I just couldn’t tell her that now my husband and I were spending our evenings looking through profiles from the top egg donor agencies to find our perfect egg donor. I know in my heart that my parents want the best for me, but the guilt of not being able to bring that joy into their lives left me feeling so bad…

- Sarita, Donor Concierge client aged 40

Many of us have been on the receiving end of questions like “When are you going to settle down?” and “When are you two going to give us grandchildren?” And this time of year, when we get together to celebrate the holidays (even on a video call), awkward questions from relatives can leave us feeling a little raw, vulnerable and sad. Sarita told me that not being able to have her mother’s grandchild also left her with feelings of shame and guilt.

Here are our 3 tips for dealing with intrusive questions, especially when you’re navigating the egg donor process or figuring out how to find a surrogate.

You’re not obligated to share

Everyone dealing with fertility issues has a different journey, and there are different stages we must go through to get to a place of acceptance. You might be reeling from a recent diagnosis, or you could be pregnant via surrogacy. No one’s situation is the same! Acknowledge where you are and what your comfort level is. Are you excited about your journey and eager to share? Or are you dreading the questions from naive kids and nosey aunts?
We love our families, but you are not obligated to talk about your fertility outside of the doctor’s office. Once you gauge your own comfort level and set your boundary, you’ll feel more prepared for those awkward conversations.

Plan your response

If you’ve already opened up to your family about your fertility or have an exciting update to share, then you might not need to think about these conversations in advance. For those of us who are not happily expecting, however, it might be a different story.
Hopefully by now, most people know not to ask potentially sensitive questions. But regardless of your family’s likelihood of prying, you can plan a few responses. Whether it’s a breezy, “Don’t worry, we’re trying!” or “We’re working on that,” or a more serious, “We’d actually love to talk about this in depth – I’ll give you a call next week!” – having something in your back pocket will help you feel more comfortable participating in family-focused chats.

Recruit some backup

If you foresee the conversation going deep into the “Why haven’t you two had kids yet?” territory, or if you are just not comfortable deflecting, it can help to recruit some backup. If you have a spouse, planning what you’re both emotionally prepared to share is key. And it can be useful to rope someone else – a parent or a trusted cousin – into your planning. Just in case things go awry, having someone else to casually steer the conversation elsewhere is handy!

And remember, it’s okay to say you’d rather not talk about it right now. You could say, “It’s been a tough year and we’re hoping for some good news”, or “you’ll be the first to know.” Don’t feel awkward pushing back – a quick but firm response like this will ensure they get the message!

The holiday season is a time for you to celebrate the way you see fit, whether you want to share about your fertility story or keep it private. This season is already fraught with emotion – joy, love, reflection, and stress – and can be painful enough for those who are trying to build a family. And too often, well-meaning friends and relatives love to offer advice that just isn’t helpful.

If you’re struggling, check out our resources list or feel free to schedule a consultation with our case managers. No matter where you are on your journey, we hope that this holiday season is a time of peace and love.

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Best Kids Books about IVF, Surrogacy & Egg Donationhttps://www.donorconcierge.com/blog/best-kids-books-about-egg-donation-and-surrogacy blog/best-kids-books-about-egg-donation-and-surrogacy Wed, 09 Dec 2020 00:00:00 -0500 The holiday season is a time for family. And for those who needed extra help to become a family, telling their children about their family story can seem daunting. Experts recommend telling your children about their unique conception as early as possible and finding a book to explain it is a good way to start.

Whether you're looking for a gift that celebrates a loved one's family, or a way to talk with your child about your own, we've got you covered. Read on for our list of some of our favorite books about unique families!

Spectacular You: An IVF Love Story
by Kate Pache
Spectacular You: An IVF Love Story is a wonderfully crafted book that lovingly explains in vitro fertilization (IVF) to children through the eyes of the parents. It explains to children the magic of their unconventional conception and the overall desire the parents had to bring that child into their lives. Beautifully illustrated and tenderly written, this story is a must for any child who was conceived through IVF.

Happy Together: An Egg Donation Story
by Julie Marie (Author), Ashley Lucas (Illustrator)
Happy Together, an egg donation story, is a heartwarming book to help introduce the concept of egg donation to a young child. A story told through clear language and cheerful illustrations, readers will join Mommy and Daddy bear on the journey to fulfill their greatest wish of becoming parents. With help from a doctor, an egg from a special lady called a donor and Daddy’s seed, a baby grew in Mommy’s tummy and was welcomed with great joy.

The Pea that was Me: An Egg-Donation Story (Volume 1)
by Kimberly Kluger-Bell (Author)
Struggling with how to tell your child about their egg donor? This acclaimed children's picture book (3-5 years old) makes it incredibly easy to start talking with your child about the special way they came into the world. Your child will want to hear about "the very kind egg donor" over and over again! Join parents worldwide who use The Pea That Was Me as a way to begin the on-going conversation about donors--reading and re-reading its extremely positive message about how much they were wanted by their parents and how lucky they were to find such a wonderful "helper."

A Tiny Itsy Bitsy Gift of Life, An Egg Donor Story
by Carmen Martinez Jover (Author), Rosemary Martinez (Illustrator)
A touching children s egg donor story about a happy couple of rabbits, Pally and Comet who have everything in life except a baby bunny, you accompany them in their longing for this child, the waiting and the moment the mother is informed she has no eggs to conceive. One day a good lady rabbit brings her a tiny itsy-bitsy gift of life, which is the egg, the half, she needs to conceive. The rabbit s tummy then begins to grow and finally her baby bunny is born and the happiness of how this family is formed is shared. The book is very colorful and ideal for children even before they can read, because the pictures are so full of details it easily captures the child’s attention.

Miracle
by Jason Pinter (Author), Cheryl Crouthamel (Illustrator)
An inspiring, funny, and heartwarming story for everyone who has dreamed of having their own Miracle child. When rabbits Merle and Pearl meet on one beautiful day, they know that they have found true joy. Yet while they couldn’t be happier with each other, there’s one teeny, tiny thing missing...a child of their own. Merle and Pearl dream of expanding their nest by bringing a baby bunny into the world, but they face unforeseen challenges along the way. Determined to make their dreams come true, Merle and Pearl will do whatever it takes to find their Miracle—even if it means going deep under the sea, trekking across vast desert sands, or rocketing far out into the stars. Because sometimes finding your dreams takes a Miracle.

Untraditional You: An IVF Story
by Mallory Belville
One couple dreams of becoming a Mommy and Daddy, but when things do not go as planned, they will stop at nothing to make their wish of having a baby come true. With the help of science and in vitro fertilization, they will finally receive the miracle they’ve always wanted. Through simple poetry and beautiful watercolor illustrations, this heart-warming story answers the age-old question “where do babies come from?” even if they arrive in an Untraditional way.

Phoebe's Family: A Story About Egg Donation
by Linda Stamm and Joan Clipp | Nov 1, 2010
Phoebe's mom tells her the wonderful and unique story of how she came into being through egg donation. Along the way, Phoebe hears about the challenges her mom and dad faced in trying to have a baby, as well as the ultimate good news of her birth into a warm and loving family.

The Family Book
by Todd Parr
The Family Book celebrates the love we feel for our families and all the different varieties they come in. Whether you have two moms or two dads, a big family or a small family, a clean family or a messy one, Todd Parr assures readers that no matter what kind of family you have, every family is special in its own unique way.

Parr's message about the importance of embracing our differences is delivered in a playful way. With his trademark bold, bright colors and silly scenes, this book will encourage children to ask questions about their own families. Perfect for young children just beginning to read, The Family Book is designed to encourage early literacy, enhance emotional development, celebrate multiculturalism, promote character growth, and strengthen family relationships

Welcome to the Party
by Gabrielle Union (Author), Ashley Evans (Illustrator)
Praised by fan-favorites including Hoda Kotb, Kim & Khloe Kardashian, and Jimmy Fallon!
Inspired by the eagerly awaited birth of her daughter, Kaavia James Union Wade, New York Times bestselling author and award-winning actress Gabrielle Union pens a festive and universal love letter from parents to little ones, perfect for welcoming a baby to the party of life!

How We Became a Family: Egg Donor
by Bernard Villegas MD (Author), Teresa Villegas (Author)
To build a family, first of all you need love. But how do you talk with your child about their in vitro origins? How do you tell your children they were conceived with the help of a donor?
• Adding children to a family -making a baby- takes all the same parts needed to make any baby animal.
• Knowledge of science and our bodies is a smart and beautiful thing.
• This complex story is explained in an easy and positive way that children can accept and be proud of.
This book is for couples who understand that their children's well-being comes from knowing how much they are wanted, who they are, and how they came into this world and into their family. Celebrating the story of your child(ren)'s donor origins through the simple act of reading can reinforce your family's journey of deep bonding and open communication.

The Very Kind Koala: A Surrogacy Story for Children
by Kimberly Kluger-Bell
The Very Kind Koala is a charming picture book for young children which provides an introduction to surrogacy through the simple story of a koala bear and her husband who needed the help of a very kind koala to carry their baby in her pouch. Parents can begin reading this story to children as young as 3 years of age to begin the dialog about their own helpful surrogate.

Love Makes A Family
by Sophie Beer
A fun and inclusive board book that features families of all kinds! Without putting the focus on same-sex parents, the book demonstrates that families come in all shapes and sizes, but what's most important in each family is that there is love. Each page starts with "Love is..." and illustrates a variety of ways that parents show love to their children, such as waking up bright and early with them, baking a cake for them, or finding the biggest puddles to splash in with them!

Each and every one of our stories is different. And so are the conversations we have with our children! These books are a great starting point, but you can choose to have this conversation any way you want. And if you are curious about finding an egg donor and building your family this season, our team is always here to help.

Wishing you a merry and joyful holiday!

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