Family building through egg donation and finding an egg donor can be a daunting process. You have dealt with your fertility struggle for a long time to get to this point and now that you have decided to go the donor egg route, where to start?
Give yourself some uninterrupted time and sit down and think of the criteria that is most important to you in a donor. Most importantly remember, your donor is not a clone. She will not be exactly like you. You must come to terms with this or you will never find anyone suitable. Also, you will be using donor eggs but there will be sperm involved. Remember, the child will be a mix of the two. Often recipients want a donor that has every quality that they want in a child and forget there is more involved. I had a recipient once that I will never forget. They were insistent that their child did not have red hair. We searched and found a donor that had no indication of red hair in any member of her entire family. We checked distant relatives and asked every single person, no red anywhere. Her son had red hair. I kid you not. It must have come from her husband’s side or was just a freak thing. Of course she loved him and thought red hair on boys was adorable when it was her child, but the point is, you can search high and low and take years to pick the perfect person and who knows what your final results may actually be. You may get red hair. Don’t waste precious time on finding the perfect donor! You want to have a healthy child now, not in 5 years because you cannot find that clone.
Think about what is most important to you. Is it education, hair color, those big blue eyes, olive skin tone, or perhaps location? Is the donor’s height a deal breaker or must she have your ethnicity? This can only be decided by you. Make a list and put the most important traits at the top and then the things you may like but you can live without at the bottom. If you get 5 out of the 10 on the list, you are doing great. You must be willing to be flexible. It is highly unlikely to find a donor with all your requirements. Remember the bottom line, you want a healthy child now. Healthy is a given. Any agency or clinic should only be interested in working with healthy donors. Our agency pre-screens as best we can to avoid posting donors we know will fail a medical screening. It is just a waste of time for everyone. Your clinic’s job is to rule out unhealthy donors so everyone wants healthy.
Now that you have your list of 10 things (and are more than willing to be flexible), start looking. It can be overwhelming but you need to look as this is such a subjective process. I am always happy to search and I think I am pretty good at it but what I think is right for you and what you think is right for you, can be two very different things.
Although I would love to tell you to pick an agency first (ours of course) and just work with us, this is not the best thing. We may not have the donor you want. As great as I am and helpful and as reputable as our agency is, you want the best donor for you and you may find her somewhere else. I would search for the donor, not the agency. I would make sure the agency you are using is reputable, well known, ethical and has a good record. Make sure they have a significant donor pool. How many donors do they have? Check the Better Business Bureau. The industry is close. Ask your clinic for suggestions on who to work with. Be careful. There are a lot of agencies that pop up and have 3 donors in their pool. If your donor falls through, you will have no one else to pick from. Be aware of their process and refund policy. Never put any money down on a donor that is “In Cycle” and you can “have her next”. You never know what happens. That donor may never cycle again and then you have to pick another donor from a small pool. You will have waited and wasted time and now you have no one.
I would find several agencies that you like and have vetted, and work with them. Ask for help. No one can get you a newly posted donor faster than the Case Manager who is keeping an eye out for you. If you are East Indian and know this ethnicity is very difficult to find, ask the agency Case Managers to take your name and email you as soon as anyone East Indian posts. You will be notified right away. If you wait until you see her posted several days later, she will be taken. Good donors go fast. If you see someone you really like, JUMP on her. Other’s will like her too and she will be taken.
When searching, look further than the main profile picture. Her other photos may be more telling. Scan the profile. It gets to be a lot after a while but scan and see if you like what you see and then delve into the whole 14 pages of info. If you find you are not feeling it, move on to the next. Save favorites and come back to them if you get exhausted. If you find someone you really find appealing, reach out to your Case Manager right away. You can always ask for more info and more photos. Decide if this is going to be 100% anonymous or not and you MUST tell this to your Case Manager. If you want some communication with the donor, let your Case manager know. Maybe the donor doesn’t want this. It would be a shame to find someone you love and ask to meet her and she says no. Even if the profile indicates that she may be willing, you MUST confirm this. They can change their minds. If meeting or talking to the donor is of major importance, please convey this to your Case Manager right away. Your Case Manager must confirm that this is OK with the donor before anyone moves forward.
Finding a donor is a lot of work. If you organize your thoughts, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Please be flexible in your search. Ask for help. You do not have to do this entirely on your own. Once you find the donor that is right for you, MOVE FAST. You do not want to lose her. It can be fun and exciting. It is just in the way you look at it.
This article was composed by Sheryl Steinberg, Fertility Source Companies Director of East Coast Operations