Whether this is your first time considering egg donation or you’ve always known you would need an egg donor to build your family, choosing an egg donor is not an easy process. I’ve personally been through the egg donation selection process multiple times now, with multiple different agencies and egg banks. Take my tips for choosing an egg donor into consideration before embarking on your journey!
It can be exciting and equally overwhelming. I’m sharing some of the lessons I learned in hopes of making this process a bit easier for you.
This is the first thing you need to address, before even beginning your search. You don’t want to choose someone who isn’t going to be able to give you the relationship you want, because once legal contracts are signed, it’s almost impossible to change. Trust me, I’ve tried. We chose someone who was open to being contacted by our child at the age of 18 years old, but after having my daughter, I realized that wasn’t good enough. I wanted access to our egg donor, I wanted to be able to email her if my daughter had a question. I have been fighting for 3 years now to try to revise our agreement with no prevail. Learn from my mistakes.
Think about the type of access you want to this person, or the information you’d want for your future child. It’s easy to overlook this part of the process in the beginning because excitement kicks in and it’s easy to dive straight into physical attributes.
Have a serious conversation with your partner before hopping online to surf the database about what is important to you and your family.
Questions to ask about yourself and your partner about egg donation:
Once you have determined the type of relationship you want with your egg donor, then you can proceed on your search. Try to have some fun with it. It’s easy to get stressed out and feel the weight of the decision you are making, but at the end of the day, there is no perfect egg donor, just like there is no perfect person.
For more information on your options, visit this blog post: Anonymous vs. Open Egg Donation (and the "In-Between")
This might seem like a no-brainer, but again, when the excitement takes over it’s easy to fall in love with your donor’s baby pictures and 20-year-old model status, but unfortunately young and beautiful doesn't always equal fertile. If the right egg donor screening isn’t done, you could find yourself in my shoes. The first donor I ever chose with another agency was a first-time egg donor. I chose her solely based on her physical characteristics and didn’t ask any questions about her fertility or health history. I trusted that the right tests were done and that if she was in the database, chances were, she was fertile as a turtle. WRONG.
The day before her IVF retrieval, the majority of her eggs had dissolved. We had already invested so much emotionally and financially. To say I was heartbroken was an understatement. I was naive to think that an egg donor equaled a baby, but unfortunately, that is not the case.
This isn’t to say that first-time donors aren’t fertile, because obviously, they all have to start somewhere, but working with the right egg donor agency and fertility clinic is extremely important. Find out what type of fertility screening is done. Ask your doctor “Would you choose this donor if it was for your own family”? There are no guarantees in this process, so we have to make educated decisions. Your doctor and agency Case Manager should be able to help you narrow down your search because they ultimately want you to have success too. Don’t be afraid to involve them in the process.
At Donor Nexus, the egg donors' pre-screening evaluations begin immediately upon selection and adhere to the industry’s highest standards. Pre-screenings consist of a psychological evaluation, a genetic consult, a legal consult, and medical evaluation. This process is done before moving forward with the donor to ensure that she is ready for every aspect of the cycle.
Before you go looking at GPAs and eye color, it’s important to ensure your donor is healthy. Look at their family history. Are their parents still living? What about grandparents? Was there any mental illness in the family? Or cancer? What about allergies? Find out what genetic screening has taken place and if your donor is a carrier of anything. Your egg donor agency should supply you with all of this info.
Find one quality that connects you to the egg donor. One! Whether that be appearance, education, career, personality, or family heritage. Don’t obsess over finding your doppelganger, they don’t exist. Try to find one thing that connects you to your egg donor, and if you have more than one, then great!
I love being able to talk to my daughter about how we both might share German, English, and Irish genes. Or the fact that even though she didn’t get her donor’s blue eyes, if she did, we would have been able to connect on having the same color eyes. It’s less about connecting with the donor, and more so having another connection to your child and a way to tie you all together.
As I discussed in my post about Infertility Grief, there is so much more to pass on to our children than genetics.
They. Don’t. Exist.
Fertility, health and relationship are the most important things, try to remind yourself of this during your search. Try not to get lost in their big, beautiful eyes. You can find a resemblance, just make sure you dive deeper into their family history, genetic screening, and reasons for becoming an egg donor. Now that I have a child via egg donation, I have no doubt what’s most important, and I can tell you it is certainly not eye color.
Not your egg donor, not me, not you. Picture yourself as an egg donor, and think about the flaws that make you, you. I’m sure you’d have some things in your history you aren’t exactly proud of. Egg donors are human too. Try not to be judgemental. At the beginning of my search, I obsessed over the littlest things and I felt so icky about it. Who am I to judge? I can’t fathom an infertile couple judging me by my bio and photos when I was in my early 20s.
Our first doctor told me to think about choosing the donor like choosing my spouse. She said that there should be a spark or some sort of connection. She assured me that I would know when I had found the “one”. I beat myself up over this. How am I supposed to feel something for a young girl I’ve never met just by reading an essay or seeing some photos?
And you know what? The one I thought I was in love with? Well, her eggs didn’t work. So, scratch that theory. Better yet, I never felt a love connection with our second egg donor, the one who helped us conceive my daughter, my soulmate, the love of my life.
REMEMBER: This is not a marriage.
You do not need to find your soulmate - your partner and your child will fill that role.
I’m not saying to just pick anyone, it’s totally normal to want to find a resemblance of yourself in the donor, just don’t obsess over it. There are far more important things to focus on than searching for a love connection with someone on a computer screen.
My lack of connection to our egg donor has had zero bearing on how I feel about my child. From the day that embryo was placed inside of me, I was bonded with her for life. That’s when the real love connection happened. That’s when the sparks went flying in every direction of my heart.
That was the moment I became a mother.
Intended parents may wonder, “Can I choose my own egg donor?” and the answer is absolutely yes! You can browse through egg donor profiles to begin your process of selecting an egg donor. The Donor Nexus online egg donor database features donors from throughout the United States and worldwide with options for fresh or frozen donor eggs. For more information on how to choose an egg donor, get in touch with the Donor Nexus team to schedule a consultation call.
Written by Guest Author, Victoria Nino
This blog post was written by Victoria Nino from @expectinganything. Victoria is a mother via donor eggs and an advocate for the infertility community. We are honored to share her experience and tips on choosing an egg donor and hope it was helpful to you in your journey.