But there’s also a downside to knowing your egg donor. “For a lot of people, it raises conflicting feelings—there will always be this other presence in their child’s life,” says Braverman. And that’s exactly the reason Jeanne chose to go the anonymous route. “A good friend with four kids volunteered to be my donor,” says Jeanne. “But I felt like it would be my friend’s child—it was just a little too close.”
If you do go with someone you know, make sure you talk about how you all see your roles in five years. “If you’re using your sister, for example, will she be okay being your baby’s aunt?” says Dorothy Greenfeld, L.C.S.W., director of psychological services at the Yale Center for Reproductive Medicine and associate clinical professor in the department of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut. Keep in mind that no matter how long or how often you talk with your donor beforehand, nothing is guaranteed for the future. Your donor may feel she won’t need any parental contact with the child, but five or ten years down the line she may change her mind. “You never know until the child is born how things are going to shake out,” says Braverman.
The Kindness of Strangers
Most women who need an egg donor will end up dealing with a complete stranger. According to Melissa Brisman, an attorney specializing in reproductive law in Park Ridge, New Jersey, the majority use the donor program provided by their fertility clinic. Check how long the clinic has been doing egg donation, and find out their success rates in the last few years in comparison with other programs. The Centers for Disease Control publishes reports at http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/ART2006/Marquee.aspx. Though the statistics only go up to 2006, all clinics should be able to show you their own, more updated, numbers.
You probably won’t be able to see a recent photo of the egg donor and almost certainly won’t get to meet her, but as long as the clinic follows the guidelines of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, you can be sure that the donors will be adequately screened both medically and psychologically. In general, donors should be younger than 35 years old, with lab evidence of normal ovarian reserve and no indication of impaired fertility. They should be screened for communicable diseases, such as hepatitis B and C, HIV, etc. Depending on ethnic background and family history, additional tests may be recommended. Jewish donors, for example, should be screened for Tay-Sachs. African American donors for sickle cell disease. It’s also a good idea for your donor to be screened by an independent mental health professional who specializes in egg donation; counseling and continuing communication can help prevent relationship issues later.
If you’re not happy with the egg donor program offered by your fertility clinic—or your clinic doesn’t have one—there are other options, including using an outside agency. The upside is that agencies tend to be more flexible with donor information than fertility clinics are. For instance, you might be able to see a picture of the donor, see what school she went to, even find out her SAT scores—and you may even be able to meet her.
Getting Pregnant with Donor Eggs|
Feb 24, 2009
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