Choosing Your Egg Donor: Will you have a baby with me?
Tips for finding the perfect woman to create your embryos.
You are ready to grow your family and have determined that surrogacy is the right path for you. Hooray! One of the first steps in your journey is to create your embryos. In order to do so, you need to begin your search for a woman who will become one of the most important ladies in your life: your egg donor. This can feel overwhelming!
How exactly do you even start looking for the woman whose biology will make up half of your baby(ies)? Here are suggestions and tips from Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation to help you make this important decision.
1. Determine who will be the bio dad.
This is a crucial first step. Will one or both of you be using your biology to create your embryos? When only one dad uses his biology, it’s a little easier to picture what an image of your child might be. Many gay dads will both submit biology and create embryos. This makes it a little harder to imagine what your child will look like (will s/he have your eyes or your partner’s blended with your egg donor’s genes?). Once you decide whose biology will be used with your egg donor’s, you can start to think about what you’re looking for in an egg donor match.
2. Create a list of qualities and characteristics you hope for in your child(ren).
If you don’t even know where to begin with an egg donor database, it can be helpful to write down what you’d like to see in your future child. This can be anything from appearance (brown hair, blue eyes, tall), to personality (outgoing, introverted, optimistic) and characteristics (athletic, artistic, intellectual). If you have a partner, it can be helpful to create your lists separately and then compare them. This allows you to see what’s important to each other. Hopefully, you will have similar qualities and characteristics on your list to use as a starting point.
3. Start Searching
Sometimes the best way to determine what you do want, is to see what you don’t want. A good way to start your egg donor search is to start browsing egg donor databases, clicking on profiles, and reading about the donors. You may start to identify what you’re not looking for, and in the process start to see what feels important to you.
The ‘perfect donor’ is the one who’s perfect for you
Gina-Marie Madow, Attorney and 4-time experienced egg donor at Circle Surrogacy & Egg Donation offers this advice to couples: “I encourage couples who don’t have a specific idea of what they’re looking for to view the egg donor database separately. Each intended parent should choose his top 5 donors, and print them out without photos, and then swap selections. You may have identified the same donor, which is great! If not, go through and rate each other’s donors – it helps you figure out what you want in an egg donor.”
- Be flexible. Keep an open mind when searching for an egg donor. If you have very specific criteria (and lots of them), the chances of you finding a donor who meets every single trait can be slim. The “perfect” donor, is a young woman who is perfect for you. When you do find your “perfect” egg donor, you should also identify a few other “almost perfect” donors, should your first choice not be available. (Or, if you do move forward with your first choice and she isn’t medically cleared or doesn’t produce enough eggs, you will need to look for a new donor, so it’s good to have a few on your short list.)
- Don’t forget: nature vs nurture! While looking at a database can help you imagine what your future child will be like, remember that not every characteristic or quality is hereditary. You may see this in your own family: a brother or sister who has a darker complexion or lighter hair, or who possess a talent that no one else does. Who your child grows up to be is also influenced by your community and how s/he is raised.
What should I look for in a donor?
Speaking as an egg donation agency, we suggest looking for a donor who is healthy, and who has a healthy family medical history. Some egg donor databases such as Circle’s Donor Database include detailed information on an egg donor’s health and her family’s health. Some gay dads look for donors who remind them of a close friend or family member. Other dads look for a donor who complements his/his partner’s personality. Depending on your situation, you may prioritize a donor who is a previous donor (who has had a successful cycle and egg retrieval) or who has proven fertility (who has kids of her own, but has not donated eggs).
As mentioned above, make a list of “must haves” – maybe 3-4 – that you’re looking for in a donor; everything from health to ethnicity to personality to eye color. Then begin your search!
Myths to Egg Donation
Finding your egg donor is not easy, and some gay dads have expressed to us that it’s a very stressful time in their journey.
As you perform your search, here are a few “myths” to keep in mind:
- I have to choose an egg donor from my IVF clinic. Not true! Once you determine your IVF clinic, you can start your egg donor search. Many IVF clinics have a database of egg donors, however, you do not need to select a donor from their database. You should search multiple databases until you find your donor match. No matter which agency your donor is with, she will travel to your IVF clinic for her medical screening and her egg retrieval.
- My egg donor and surrogate need to be from the same agency. This is also not true. You may sign on with a surrogacy agency who does not have an egg donor database. Or, you may find an egg donor you love who is in an agency’s database that is different from your surrogacy agency. Your donor and your surrogate operate independently of one another and do not need to be from the same agency. Though gay dads have expressed that they have found the process to be easier when their donor and carrier are from the same agency.
- I have no say in my relationship with my egg donor. Again, not true! There are 3 types of egg donation: Known, Semi-known and Anonymous.
Types of Egg Donations
- Known Donation. Intended parents and the egg donor learn each other’s names and have the opportunity to get to know each other. Circle believes knowing where he/she came from is important for a child’s sense of identity.
- Semi-Known Donation in which a limited amount of information is exchanged
- Anonymous donation in which there is no open contact or communication between parents and the donor.
The type of egg donation you choose to do is up to you and your donor. This is your journey, and you should feel comfortable with every decision along the way.
Learn more about choosing a donor as a gay man.