Choosing Donor Conception

Like many people trying to have a baby in their early 40’s, our journey involved some unexpected twists and turns. We went through multiple IUI and IVF cycles and unsuccessful attempts with multiple egg donors. At our doctor’s recommendation, we ultimately decided to fertilize half of our donor eggs with our own sperm and half with donor sperm. After nearly 4 years of trying, we now have a beautiful 4-month-old baby girl conceived with both donor egg and donor sperm. Though our situation is unique, in many ways our experiences may be familiar to anyone experiencing infertility and exploring the option of using a donor.

Emily and Brad’s Daughter born via egg donation

Like many people who consider donor conception, we struggled with difficult questions along the way. How comfortable did we feel using donor eggs? When all other options were off the table, how did we feel about moving to a double-donor embryo, knowing that our child would not have a genetic connection to either one of us? Would we bond with a baby who is not genetically related to us? How would our future child feel about the decisions we’re making? How open should we be with others about how she was conceived? Should we limit the people who know or should we be more public in an attempt to normalize donor conception? How would those outside of our inner circle react when they learn she was conceived with the help of donors? How would we manage the financial burden? We wanted to carefully consider each question before taking the next step.

In the process of learning more and working through our thoughts and feelings, we talked a lot about what was important to us. We decided not to move forward until we both felt comfortable with our choices and until we believed that our future child would too. For example, when we moved to donor conception we knew we wanted to be 100% transparent, open and honest with our child from the beginning, so we wrote her a personalized children’s book that explains her unique story. We also chose an open donation, which we thought would be important for her identity development. We wanted our child to have some degree of contact with her donors if she chose to do so.

We also felt it was important to pick donors who share some of our core values. We looked for donors who were bright, heart-centered, and who had a zest for life. When we selected our egg donor, we wrote her a note through our agency introducing ourselves and asking if she would consider an open donation. Through back and forth communication, we landed on a plan we all felt great about. We later had a Skype conversation and eventually had the opportunity to meet both her and her husband when she came to our city for her egg retrieval. Our connection with her has been special and important to us.

The relationship between intended parents and an egg donor is an intimate one, and there is no ready-made societal template to follow that establishes what that relationship should look like. We were strangers, yet we were in the process of sharing an incredible gift that would change all of our lives. Our conversation with our egg donor and her husband was surprisingly easy, earnest, caring, and incredibly meaningful. We each talked about our lives and our hopes for the future and left feeling even more confident in our choices. Later, the fact that we’d felt so great about our egg donor made our decision to implant one of the double-donor embryos much easier.

We are now four months into our new life as a family of three, and this has been the best time of our lives. As we get to know our sparkly and happy little girl, our hearts are overflowing with love for our family and gratitude for the village it took to bring her into our lives.

— Emily and Brad

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