Here at Gay Parents To Be and Reproductive Medicine Associates of Connecticut, we have years of experience guiding future dads along their surrogacy journeys. And we know that the pathway to parenthood can be overwhelming, whether you’re at the start of your journey or a few steps into the family building process.
As a same-sex couple or single man moving forward with family building, picking an egg donor is a permanent and far-reaching decision - after all, this person will contribute their genes to your future child’s genetic makeup. So, how do you find this “perfect person”? To answer this question, we’ll turn to some basics of problem-solving: who, where, why, and how!
Who? As in, “Who will be my egg donor?”
Before we get too ahead of ourselves, let’s recap.
For most dads who go through the process of family building through IVF & surrogacy, their journey will involve the help of an egg donor. This person’s eggs are retrieved and then combined with sperm from one or both dads in a laboratory to create embryos. Because of this, your egg donor is genetically linked to your child (as opposed to your surrogate, who carries and delivers the pregnancy).
Most egg donors are young women between the ages of 21 and 30, with a high school degree at least, a BMI under 30, and a healthy lifestyle. They undergo a rigorous screening process to become even a potential egg donor, that involves mental and personal health screening, a background check, and a consultation with a medical professional.
Where do you look for an egg donor?
Parents-to-be typically connect with their donor in a few different ways:
An in-house egg donor program
Psst, we have one here at RMA of Connecticut.
This is a program linked to your chosen clinic - this option is often both expeditious and cost-effective, as the donors may have already completed the necessary screening required by your clinic.
One potential drawback to this kind of program is that there may be a smaller group to choose from.
If you have a particular ethnic background or physical trait that you’re hoping to find, depending on the clinic this might not be the best choice for you.
An egg donor agency
This is an independent entity that recruits, prescreens, and helps to organize appropriate egg donor candidates. A donor agency may be a great option for you if you are searching for particular physical characteristics (i.e. red hair and green eyes). However, keep in mind that there may be a fee to use the donor agency.
Your clinic may have different guidelines and screening requirements for egg donors than this agency, so there may be additional testing costs, as well.
A known donor can be a family member or friend, and typically is someone already in the intended parent’s lives before they start their family building journey. While many dads think that this could be an easy and cost-effective way to build their family, there are many legal, screening, and mental health considerations to take into account.
There are many places to go to find this person, so HOW do you narrow down your search?
How do you choose your ideal egg donor?
There are several factors that you need to consider when choosing the best donor for you, including:
Your child will be inheriting the donor’s genes as well as yours. Your fertility clinic will help you determine whether you and a potential donor carry the same genetic traits for diseases or disorders
Personal medical history (including psychological history)
Donor qualities that are important to you, like:
Certain likes or dislikes
Certain skill sets
Level of education
Donor’s family tree
Remember, your child will inherit the physical traits of not just the donor, but your donor’s whole family! If you’re interested in height, dark v. light hair, etc., make sure that your donor isn’t the only one in her family who has that trait.
All these things, and more, go into play in picking a donor. Speaking with a psychologist or social worker who has helped others navigate through this process can be helpful. To explore your feelings about this decision can be complicated. Some couples may need to find a way to make a choice, especially when they have slightly (or even vastly) different priorities. For other couples, choosing an egg donor can be simple and straightforward.
The Why of choosing your egg donor
While all of the factors above are crucial when choosing your donor, this may be the most important one for you and your partner when you think about your life together with your future child. Thanks to genetic testing and mainstream DNA analysis kits, your child will probably be about to find out all about their background as technology continues to advance - even if you pick a completely anonymous donor.
Instead, when choosing your donor, think about the things you want to be able to tell your child about their conception story and your donor choice. Rather than purely physical characteristics, perhaps you tell your child that you connected with hobbies or interests listed in the donor’s profile. Perhaps you felt connected to them because of a shared cultural heritage, or a similar family structure. Perhaps you use a known donor, and in the future, you’re able to tell your child about the special gift that this person gave you.
Do you have more questions about the details of egg donor testing? Learn more here.
Want a deeper dive into egg donor testing?