pros and cons of egg donor anonymity

(22 posts)(9 voices)
  1. I'm starting to navigate the DE process (at almost 42 and after many losses, I just don't think I can take it anymore with my OE) and I have some questions about how people made decisions about choosing their egg donor, based on the level of anonymity.

    I'm single, so I'm already using donor sperm. I've always used a sperm donor who was willing to be known - i.e. my child at age 18 could get the donor's contact information if s/he wanted it. I felt it was important to leave that option open for my child and I paid a little more for it (anonymous donors generally are cheaper per vial than willing to be known donors).

    Now I'm starting to think about the donor egg part. Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems like that level of openness is only available if you go through an agency. In house donor pools seem to be exclusively anonymous (but again, I may be wrong here). I'm not as concerned about getting huge amounts of information about the donor - I'd be happy with baby pictures only (or no pictures at all) and the simplicity of choosing an in house donor appeals to me. But I do feel like choosing an anonymous egg donor could have big ramifications for my child down the road - if they want to seek out their genetic heritage, etc.

    I guess the question for myself is how much more am I willing to pay to keep that door open? Am I right in thinking that an agency is the only way to go with this?

    What have other people's experiences been with this issue?

  2. The anonymity thing bothered me at first partly because I would be scared that my child would want to find their "real" mother, but we are doing DE in the Czech Republic where that is really an impossibility. We still plan on sharing the culture with the child and let them know at a young age how they came to be so that it won't come as a shock later.

  3. I guess my issue is the opposite of most others - I really don't want the process to be anonymous. Maybe its because I already know that I'd be disclosing about using donor sperm and that I'm creating a non-traditional family. I'm really not worried that my child won't see me as his/her mother. But I don't want to eliminate the option of contacting the egg donor in the future when my child is an adult. I have friends who were adopted, and I know that that link to their birth parents (in the case of adoption) can be important for a variety of reasons.

  4. Hi Kate, I'm sure others will chime in, but it doesn't look like you'd have only agency donors to choose from if you wanted to keep open the possibility of later contact. I've started really looking into the DE process, and was ready to start with CNY (a plan temporarily on hold). Among the questions their in-house donors answer deal with preferences regarding contact, and in many of the donor profiles the young women say they are open to contact by the IP and/or child. So I guess it varies clinic to clinic.

  5. Hi, Kate- i don't know the answer to the question about whether you have to stick with agencies if you want to leave the option of meeting the donor open. we did use an agency and chose a donor who is willing to be known. we have 2 little boys who are too young at the moment, but i plan to contact and meet the donor when they are older.

    i feel as though it's very very important to the child's mental health to have that option and for the facts of their conception to be disclosed. one only has to look at the research on children who were adopted or born from donor sperm and were not told the truth to understand the importance of this. GL

  6. hi Kate,

    you are correct that most of the clinics prefer to keep the DE process completely anonymous. we met with CRMI to learn about their program and asked them why this is important, they said it's to protect them legally if issues arise later eg: the kids aren't healthy, the donor wants to claim the kids that kind of thing. their answer had nothing to do with what would be in the best interests of a DE child. it was also interesting to us that the CRMI shrink pushes IP(s) to tell their kids that a donor was used, yet they dont give the kids any way to track the donor.

    i would recommend that you pull up a lot of pilma's posts, she is very thoughtful on this process and what is best for the child. i did this and as DH and i thought about it we decided it was best for us to be able to use a non anon donor.

    so we went the agency route (in part also because we wanted to stay with Dr T at SIRM). we would only use a donor who was proven, and it turned out that ours had cycled several times which was perfect. she and i emailed a bunch of times and then spoke on the phone once it got closer to the cycle. she came to brunch with DH and i right before ER and we had a really good time. she was everything that we expected and more. since the cycle she and i have been emailing a bit. we have lots of photos of her and her family, all through her life. we're going to put together a scrap book with her profile and photos, emails etc for our future kids. she will be open to meeting w our kids if they want to, but won't seek them out or want to be too involved. so this was the perfect solution for us.

    you have been so thoughtful in choosing the sperm donor that it seems to me that using a donor you can meet should be a priority too.

    overall it is overwhelming to go the agency route as there are just so many donors to choose from, there is false advertising among many of them, and some of the agencies are run by pond scum. that said, we found that it was totally worthwhile to put in the time because we had total control over the process.

    i have put together a lot of notes re DE so if you'd like a copy pls pm me your email address. you can make it easier for yourself by making a list of stuff you care about, race, religion, eye/hair color, education, sexual orientation, interests, hobbies...etc. sometimes you put together the list and then you just see a donor and everything clicks, even though she's not really what you had in mind. DH and i met on match.com and it reminded me a lot of that process! another way to narrow the search is to limit it to a short list of agencies. we had some really bad experiences with one or two, where they had lied and totally misrepresented factual info about the donors. on the other hand, we had an absolutely wonderful experience with eggceptional, Angela the coordinator really exceeded every expectation we had of her and the experience. she's a total gem. you can look on greateggs.com and see reviews of the agencies to help you narrow down the list.

    GL and i'm happy to help if you have your questions.
    xx

  7. very interesting discussion, but i do not agree that having a known donor as opposed to an anonymous donor would be better for the child. i myself used anonymous DE and DS and will tell my child this as the time is right. these donors are only one piece of the complex creation that is my child. it brings to mind the whole notion of donor organs...it is rare that a recipient of a kidney for example, would know who the donor was, and of course with a heart transplant the donor could not be met. and it is a rare case that the donor would be known. why should it be any different with DE and DS? these donors are not the 'real' parents, they are not even the 'biological' parents, however they are providing the genetic blueprint for baby's growth. but without the donor recipient there would be no baby.

  8. But without the sperm and the egg there wouldn't be a baby either. It is not the same as a kidney transplant.

    It is a very normal human impulse, to want to understand and know one's genetic origins. Why not give the child the ability to do so, if he or she wants to? Why allow fear on our (recipients) part to make that life-long decision for our child, who someday will be an adult and might want that right?

    If I end up going down the DE route...I will not want to know the donor or her name or have a relationship of any kind....but I would like there to be the option that someday if my child wants (or needs) to find her, he/she will be able to do so. This is about the child's rights - not about my fears.

    You can say all you want that the DE/DS are trivial parts of what makes up your child....but it's simply not true...and in any case, shouldn't that be up to the child when he/she is old enough to make that decision? I just think the option has to be there, because in long run its not about me...its about what another human being (the child) might need or want.

  9. But without the sperm and the egg there wouldn't be a baby either. It is not the same as a kidney transplant. It is a very normal human impulse, to want to understand and know one's genetic origins. Why not give the child the ability to do so, if he or she wants to? Why allow fear on our (recipients) part to make that life-long decision for our child, who someday will be an adult and might want that right?If I end up going down the DE route...I will not want to know the donor or her name or have a relationship of any kind....but I would like there to be the option that someday if my child wants (or needs) to find her, he/she will be able to do so. This is about the child's rights - not about my fears.You can say all you want that the DE/DS are trivial parts of what makes up your child....but it's simply not true...and in any case, shouldn't that be up to the child when he/she is old enough to make that decision? I just think the option has to be there, because in long run its not about me...its about what another human being (the child) might need or want.

    well said. i agree completely.

    thanks for the compliment, mairead. i wanted to add to the OP that it does seem, unfortunately, to be true that there is little protection for us (the IPs, i mean) out there, but there is a list of agencies that have voluntarily signed on to the ASRM's ethical guidelines here:

    asrm.org

    and fwiw, i had positive experiences with tiny treasures and x and y.

  10. as i imagined, i would get flamed for posting my opinion.

    in no way do i think that the 'egg and sperm are trivial', and i am not 'fearful' about my child meeting donors. the route i chose, which was the most accessible for me, therefore the WAY i am having a baby, is the anonymous route. if i had had the means to develop a relationship with one or both donors i would have entertained that. this discussion brings to mind the situation of a woman who conceives 'naturally' with a man, only to have the man not want any involvement with the child. would we then say that this child will have a lifetime a mental anguish because the 'father' can not be contacted? no we wouldn't, because it takes a lot more than sperm to make a father, just as it takes a lot more than an egg to make a mother.

    and i really do see a connection between a donation of other organs, such as a kidney, and gametes, in that while there is potential for life in that donation, it would not function without the recipient.

    in any case, we all have our opinions about this process, which quite frankly is such a cutting edge technological process we really do not have any idea how our children will react in the future. i plan to tell my child how s/he came to be, but that will not include the name and address of the donors. to make judgmental and assumptive remarks about this choice is not helpful, it's just mean-spirited and nasty

  11. I don't think anybody was meanspirited or nasty, I just think people feel strongly and have differing opinions.

    But I do have a question - when your child is grown up and would like to find the donors, do you think that option should be unavailable to him/her? Have you considered for example making the information available to him/her only if he/she asks you for it, when they're old enough? Will you tell your child that you chose to deny them the ability to find the donors?

    I\'m not sure the analogy of the absent father is a good one - first of all that's not a choice the woman made necessarily, and also in a case like that the man's identity would be known and therefore he could be found in all likelihood if that were necessary or desirable for the child (who at that point wouldn't be a child).

    I guess one of the things that would worry me about total anonymity is that if I were the child, I would never forgive my mother for denying me the right to find my genetic parents if I wanted to. I would want that choice to be mine, not hers. And so I could not deny my child that same right.

  12. Kate... Many in-house DE programs are anonymous, and my clinic is too. After I m/c with our known egg donor, I had a very long chat with my RE. I told him that I just couldn't do a DE cycle with an anonymous donor. I felt strongly that our child should have the option to meet the genetic donor if s/he feels compelled to later in life, and an anonymous donor option will not allow that. He understood, and he said that he'll help me to find a donor who will do an open donation arrangement. It doesn't cost me anymore to do anonymous vs open donor b/c my clinic has 1 flat fee for the donor. Even if your clinic's in-house donor egg program is anonymous, it doesn't hurt to talk to your RE.

    We ended up doing an open embryo donation, and our donors have agreed to meet our child(ren) if he/they want to meet the donors after turning 18. We'll be doing cord blood banking, but they've also agreed to provide genetic medical assistance to our child(ren). Both parties also agreed to provide personal information on our kids until they reach the age of 18... names, age, pics, their whereabouts so that they don't date or marry each other... These are the main reasons why I didn't want to use an anonymous donor, so it worked out well.

    FYI... My state regulates donor eggs, sperm and embryos. It clearly defines that a donor is NOT a parent; therefore, once the donation has taken place and the property (eggs, sperm or embryos) has been transferred to the intended parents, the donor has NO parental rights to any child(ren) born from the donated eggs, sperms or embryos. The donor also has NO parental responsibilities to any child(ren) born from the donated eggs, sperms or embryos.

    mehriahmadi... In cases of a one night stand, if the "father" doesn't want involvement in the child's life, he still has legal obligations to that child if paternity test proves that he's the father... ie... child support. In donor cases in my state, the sperm donor has no legal or parental obligations to the child. Also, in terms of a child's emotional attachment to an anonymous sperm donor, studies have shown like in anonymous adoption, as children grow up, they usually have an innate sense of wanting to know their origins. It's not that they want to love and have a "father"/child relationship with the sperm donor, they just want to know who that person is. It's like a missing puzzle in their life that needs to be solved. Yes, you're right, it does take a lot more than a sperm contribution to be a "father" or an egg contribution to be a "mother".

  13. thank you for your thoughts...i do agree that most people are curious about their origins, but that does not necessarily mean that every person will want to track down genetically linked people. i was about to say 'blood' relations, but in the case of DE, the recipient is the blood relation. the whole idea of DE is relatively new, and of course, complicated questions arise. but what life is not filled with challenges to face? a known donor may in time choose not to be known, then what do you tell your child? the absentee father may send a monthly payment and still choose to have no contact with child. i do not assume that my child will want to find the donors, nor do i assume they will not. that is a conversation to have many years from now. i highly doubt my child will hate me because i chose to go the anonymous route, i hope that they will understand the route i chose in order to have and love them, and maybe they can see strength in that choice. at present there is no 'father' in the picture, although there may be someone down the road. am i denying my child something basic by choosing to go ahead and have them without a partner? some might say i am, that it is selfish of me to choose to be a single parent. all i can do is tell my child my story and the rest is up to them. there are some who choose not to tell their child anything about their DE/DS origins, but that is not for me to judge. we all come to a place of acceptance on the infertility road, and life moves from there.

    the baby inside me will be loved forever. that is the most important piece to the puzzle.

  14. mehriahmadi, you say of course correctly that you do not assume the child will or will not want to find the donors...but by closing the door on the possibility you have denied the child the option in case he/she wants to. That is what troubles me about it. You don't know how your child will feel or what he/she may or may not want...but you are eliminating his/her choices. Studies have shown that most people DO want to know who their genetic parents are...so why not give the child the option?

    What do you see as the downside of giving the child the option of finding the donors if he or she wants to later in life? It seems like it's important to you to make sure your child can never find the donors - why?

  15. hey, i never said i DON'T want my child to know who the donors are ( and btw, i do not consider them 'parents) i chose to go to a clinic which i could afford and that clinic does anonymous donations. i checked out known donor programs in the states and canada and it was prohibitively expensive. i have been reflecting on this, of course, since making and reading posts. there are many children who need homes through adoption..and either it is a closed or open adoption. that is the choice of the birth mother. that woman may never wish to have future contact with child. but that child still deserves a loving home. if people only adopted in 'open' situations there would be a lot more orphans.

    that is all i want to say on this matter, i made my decisions, for better or for worse, and i will live with the consequences. i am sure that this interesting, complicated topic will be one of hundreds i will have to deal with as a parent.

  16. mehriahmadi (and everyone else) thanks for your thoughts. I know this can be a difficult topic and I know that our choices don't make us any better or worse as parents, since there is no such thing as perfect parenting.

    I do struggle with the added cost potentially involved in seeking out a willing to be known situation. I even had this hypothetical conversation with a friend a year ago - would I spend X dollars more to ensure that my child has the option of contacting the donor after age 18? FWIW, we didn't come to an answer. Easier done with donor sperm, because it adds only a $100 or so per vial. But donor egg... I have to think about what do I do next if this fails? How much money do I need to have in resserve for another cycle or adoption?

    mehriahmadi, your comment about adoption is an interesting one - if someone came to my door with an infant right now, I could have the child but the birth mother wants a completely closed adoption, would I say no because it is closed? Probably not (my mother keeps hinting that she may steal a child for me and I'm telling her don't you dare, mostly because I could see myself taking the child! )

    Willing to be known is important to me, but does it trump other considerations? I don't know - I guess that's what I'll wrestle with now.

  17. Kate... There's another option that I've seen women on my DE group do with anonymous donors to ensure that their DE child(ren) has the ability to contact the donors at age 18. The donor agrees to give the child(ren) upon the age of 18 access to their personal information such as full name, SS#, current address, etc... to a 3rd party. There's no guarantees that the donor will accept meeting the child, but at least there's a way the child(ren) will be able to find and contact the donor easier, then she can decide then. 3rd party can be a donor egg registry, clinic, or an attorney. To my knowledge, none of the women who added this clause to their agreements had to pay extra.

  18. good to know - honestly, that's all that I'm looking for (its the same for sperm donors, although I don't even think that they have ss#s!). I don't expect a guarantee of contact, just the potential for it.

  19. Kate, here's my take - I am also single, and use one of the sperm donors who is theoretically open to contact when the child turns 18. But I recognize that there's no guarantees even on that, so I will deal with that when the time comes. As I now consider moving to DE, for me it is also important to at least try to be able to secure that same amount of information on the egg donor side. However, I believe that what is most important to the child is to know the full story of how they came about, whatever that full story may be - meaning it may or may not include as much information as it would in a perfect world. So, if for some reason I put myself on a clinic's DE list and get a quick and perfect match with a completely anonymous donor while I'm trying to find a more open donor elsewhere, I won't rule the anonymous donor out. I imagine it may be difficult for a child to have more information about one side than the other, but I do not believe it will be an insurmountable situation. I also hope that the fact of actually having a mother (versus not having a father) will help make having less information on that side about the genetic piece be somewhat easier to deal with.

  20. kids are going to deal with being born post a donation just as well as their parents do, so it's up to us to help them think through it. personally i think it's a non event either way - there are just as many people in this world who know their parents and wish they didnt as there are folks who dont know their birth parents, donors etc and wish they did. lots of parents are a major disappointment to their kids and viceversa.

    my dad's parents had five kids and then adopted a baby boy through their church. so i've an uncle who everyone has always known was adopted but he doesn't give a **** about it and neither do we. he's a member of our family and he's never had any inclination or interest or desire to figure out his birth story. thirty years later my dad's sister couldnt conceive and she adopted a little girl who's in her late 20s now. i vividly remember when they brought her home for the first time. everyone was thrilled and celebrating, a lot more than when my little sister came home from the hospital w my mum!! again my cousin is a well adjusted member of our family and doesnt give a rats *** about how she came to be. that's a credit to our whole family.

    kate, mehriahmadi, bornat - i am completely in awe of you guys. you're doing everything you can, against the odds, to be mothers. just look at how much love, strength, determination, resilience you're putting into this effort and the kids arent even here yet. your kids are going to be incredibly lucky individuals to be here and to have such wonderful mothers. i have no doubt that they will adore you guys and remind you every day that these struggles were worthwhile.

    with my own situation, we used my DH's swimmers and donor eggs. we met the donor and she's a rock star. i'm thrilled to have had the opportunity to meet her, to have had the resources to find a donor we loved who was willing to meet with us and w our kids if they want to down the road...but i dont give a **** that these kids aren't going to look like me, or be born of my eggs. let's face reality, without a donor i wasnt going to ever be pg or have kids so what do i have to gripe about. it's all upside for me and i'll look at these kids and every day be grateful to our donor, not resent her or feel insecure that the kids look like my DH but not like me.

    one upside of not having contact w the donor is that it goes both ways, you dont want some psycho showing up on your doorstep in 18 years because his/her life hasn't turned out as expected and they want to have a a relationship w these kids. i totally agree with mehriahmadi that having a donor baby is similar to if a child is dropped in a basket on your doorstep, you make the most of it and love the kid, the rest just falls into place.

    btw Kate, i can totally relate to wanting to steal a kid...especially a red head w curly hair...i travel every week for work and there are so many kids left unattended in airports...just saying once i started to have these feelings i knew we needed to move on to a plan that would put us closer to success! and i'm thrilled that we did, we are 10wks pg now and couldn't be more excited or happy for August to come and our little family to start to grow.

  21. kate, mehriahmadi, bornat - i am completely in awe of you guys. you're doing everything you can, against the odds, to be mothers. just look at how much love, strength, determination, resilience you're putting into this effort and the kids arent even here yet. your kids are going to be incredibly lucky individuals to be here and to have such wonderful mothers. i have no doubt that they will adore you guys and remind you every day that these struggles were worthwhile.

    Thanks. I needed that this morning.

  22. Kate - it's darkest before dawn.
    you have had an incredibly shxtty last year plus but you will be a mother, you will be a mother, you will be a mother...and guess what, you're ahead of the game because you have everything ready and set up to welcome this little gem when he or she finally shows up.

    have you considered donor embryo? this is a wonderful story about how these kids all born of the same genetic makeup, but to different sets of parents, were eventually able to meet up. donor embryo is a lot less expensive than DE and comes with the added benefit that kids have been born of these embys in the past so hopefully you're more likely to be successful. the embryos are also ready to tx so the wait time might be shorter once you find a match.

    goodhousekeeping.com

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