Jennifer’s Story: Building a relationship with her donor

For Jenn Dunn, the decision to create her family via egg donation was an easy one. After years of trying to conceive and several failed intrauterine inseminations, Jenn says she subconsciously knew that donor eggs would be her path to parenthood. She was so sure, in fact, that she picked up several brochures for egg donation agencies during her first visit to her fertility clinic in Gilbert, Arizona, before even discussing egg donation with her physician.

Jenn had begun an invitro fertilization (IVF) cycle when she decided to cancel it after learning how long it could take to be successful. “I told my doctor that I needed him to be really honest, and I asked if this was going to work for me [doing IVF with her own eggs],” Jenn shares. “He explained that it could, but it might take 10 or more tries just to get a few normal embryos. My response was ‘so then it’s donor eggs?’ All I wanted was a family; I didn’t want to waste any more time.”

Choosing her donor
While the process IPs go through to choose an egg donor and what’s most important to them varies, a common theme we hear at Egg Donor Solutions (EDS) is how IPs want to feel a connection with their donor. For Jenn, the connection happened the moment she saw her donor’s photo.

“I loved her smile and how it looked like she was also smiling with her eyes,” Jenn says. “It seemed like she would be a very kind and warm person. It’s hard to explain, but I just knew she was the one.”

Wanting to let her donor how much she was appreciated, Jenn sent flowers, a necklace and a heartfelt letter, which were given to her donor at the retrieval. 

Having her miracle baby
The first embryo transfer using her donor’s eggs was successful. However, Jenn experienced a difficult pregnancy and traumatic birth with her son, Bennett, who arrived nine weeks early and spent more than 50 days in the NICU. Jenn recalls the fear she felt during that time and how hard it was not getting to hold her son right away.

“I was afraid that after all we’d been through to have Bennett, we were going to lose him,” she says. “It was a week before I was able to hold him, and my husband and I spent two months going back and forth to the hospital before we were able to bring him home.”

Thankfully, Bennett was able to thrive. Today, he is a happy, rambunctious three-year-old. He’s also incredibly smart; Jenn shares that he’s already sounding out words and knows how write his name. The pride Jenn has in Bennett and the joy she feels in knowing she was meant to be his mom is palpable as she describes the bond she shares with her son.

“Bennett is the best thing that has ever happened to me,” she says. “Being a parent is so much more than genetics. If I could go back in time and be given the choice to have a baby with my own eggs or have Bennett using the donor’s eggs, I would choose Bennett every time. There’s no question.”

Connecting with her donor
Like many IPs at EDS, Jenn and her husband had the Donor Sibling Registry (DSR) included in their donor agreement. The DSR provides a way for IPs to have future contact with their donor for medical updates and questions, as well as the opportunity for IPs and donors to get to know each other on a personal level, if that is of interest to both parties.

Jenn says the desire to know her donor always existed, but with the circumstances surrounding Bennett’s birth and life in general, she pursued getting herself and her donor registered with the DSR later than she planned.

“It started weighing heavily on my mind and heart about a year ago,” Jenn says. “I know it’s what is best for Bennett.”

Jenn reached out to EDS to get the process started and establish contact with her donor. “I’m so glad EDS is encouraging IPs to make the DSR part of their donor agreements and helping to facilitate connections for people who really want it,” she says. “As a parent, I think it’s the best thing you can do for your children. With the way technology is today, they are going to find out [about their conception], and this gives them the best opportunity if they want to reach out to the donor one day.”

Once the donor was registered with the DSR, Jenn sent her a letter through the site explaining who she was and asked if the donor would be open to contact. The response she received brought Jenn to tears.

“She mentioned the letter I sent her at the retrieval and that she reads it sometimes when she’s feeling down and how she thinks about our family whenever she wears the necklace,” Jenn says.

Over the past few months, Jenn and her donor have exchanged regular emails and texts as they begin to build a friendship that Jenn hopes will stand the test of time.

“Every time I hear from her, it makes my day,” Jenn says. “I hope our friendship continues to grow, and Bennett and I will get the chance to meet her in person one day. I’d love for him to meet anyone associated with how he came to be, including half-siblings. The more people that care about Bennett, the happier I am. As a mother, I think that’s what you want for your child.”

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