If you're reading this, chances are your specialist has just delivered the news that if you want to have a child, you'll need an egg donor. You might be feeling overwhelmed, scared, angry, and sad, and most likely have many questions. Here are some tips for all intended parents who are embarking upon building their family through egg donation.
1. Pause and breathe.
Take a deep breath—it’s perfectly normal to feel angry, sad, scared, unsure, and overwhelmed. This is one of the biggest decisions you'll make. Because this news can be mind-boggling, give yourself time to wrap your head around the concept of egg donation, what it means, and the steps it will take for you to complete an egg donor cycle from start to finish.
It’s important to know that it's normal to be sad about losing your genetic link to your future child. For some women, it can be a lengthy grieving process. Give yourself time to grieve this loss, and see a therapist to help sort through the complicated feelings that you may feel.
2. Choose a clinic.
One of the most important decisions you'll face when expanding your family through egg donation is where to go for treatment. Select a clinic where you feel honored, respected, and cared for—and with that comes a physician or team of physicians who have your best interests in mind. The rapport and relationship you develop with your physician is critical. Look for a doctor who is going to be kind, caring, compassionate, and above all, willing to partner with you during your treatment. The organization PVED (Parents Via Egg Donation) has put together a comprehensive list of questions to ask in regards to your treatment and care.
3. Find an egg donor agency.
Some clinics unfortunately don’t have a large egg donor pool (or an egg donor pool at all) from which the intended parent can select the right egg donor for to help create their family so many intended parents rely upon egg donor agencies to help them find and select an egg donor. Bear in mind not all agencies are created alike.
Keep in mind that above all, egg donor agencies are service providers, meaning you're in the driver’s seat. They may have the egg donor you need to grow your family, but in the end, you're the one writing the check, and they need you to stay in business. Read the service contract carefully. Pay attention to the agency's refund policy; many agencies don’t offer one. Get everything in writing and that means everything.
4. Select an egg donor.
This can often be the most overwhelming part of the whole egg donation experience. The bottom line: Do your homework, research, ask questions, and if something doesn’t sit well, listen to your gut. Don’t be led to believe that if you pay a top price for an egg donor, you'll get a premium donor. That’s not the way it works. Don’t believe that paying a higher fee to an agency or a donor is going to create or produce a top quality (or even a better quality) egg—or, for that matter, increase your chances at becoming a parent. Again, that’s not the way it works. At the end of the day, the child you have via this process is the child you're meant to have, and will be the most amazing, beautiful, perfect child you've ever seen.
5. Hire an attorney and draw up a legal contract.
Even if you decide to use the clinic's egg donor pool and all they require is the informed consent agreement, get a legal contract between yourself and your egg donor. Why? To protect you and your egg donor. One of the industry’s leading reproductive lawyers Amy Demma says: “The most compelling reason for you to hire an attorney is to protect, from a legal standpoint, the family you are trying so very hard to build ... why risk it?"
Most egg donor agreements are approximately 25 pages long and will clearly state that the donor is agreeing (among other things) that despite her genetic connection to your child, she has no legal status in your family. Lots of other issues are addressed in a donor contract (which are not addresses in clinic consents) including: