Recipient Parents Share How They Chose Their Egg Donors: Part 1

Egg Donor Solutions is committed to supporting intended parents throughout their journey to parenthood. We often hear from intended parents that the process of choosing an egg donor feels overwhelming. There are hundreds of profiles, and it’s hard to know where to begin. While our coordinators are always just an email or phone call away, we thought it might be helpful for you to hear from others who have had children via egg donation. We asked some of our former intended parents to share how they approached choosing their egg donors and what the experience was like for them.

The Moms

Carrie Collier-Brown
Twins Cooper and Zoe, age 4 (also has a biological daughter Willow, age 10)

Jennifer Dunn
Son Bennett, age 2

Amy Huston
Daughter Hallie, age 1 (also has a biological son, Eli, age 4)

Hillary Redwine
Daughter Corinne, age 5

What was most important to you in choosing an egg donor? Did what was most important change over time?

Amy: Initially, finding a donor with similar physical characteristics was very important to me, but in the end, what mattered most was choosing someone we felt we had a connection to, whose personality was likable and relatable, and who gave us the best chance for success. I had to get over some things that I had a hard time letting go of but that didn’t really matter at the end of the day. I realized I wanted a baby more than I wanted a baby who looked like me. I felt like it was the baby I was intended to have, so it was easy to have peace about that.

Carrie: Everyone in our family has blue eyes, so we wanted a donor with blue eyes. That was the only physical attribute we really cared about. It was important to us to choose someone who would be open to being in contact with our family for medical reasons while our children are minors and also be open to our children reaching out to her once they turn 18 if that’s something they want to do. At the time we went through the process in 2014, that might have limited our options some, but we were okay with that.

Jennifer: For me, it wasn’t based on looks at all. I wanted to feel some sort of connection. When I saw a photo of our donor and saw her smile, it looked like she was also smiling with her eyes. It seemed like her happiness would be contagious. She just looked like a very kind and warm person.

Hillary: Initially, I really wanted to find a donor who had red hair like me. I think the idea of having a redheaded child was ingrained in me after years of people commenting on my hair and saying wouldn’t it be neat if I had redheaded kids. But even with a biological child, there is no guarantee that he or she would have my hair color. Ultimately, the physical characteristics didn’t matter as much. When we narrowed down what was most important, it was family health history, education and answers to the profile questions. I wanted to get a sense that the donor was a good person and someone I could be friends with. I also wanted someone who was willing to meet in person and would be open to meeting any future children.

How did you approach choosing a donor with your spouse?

Amy: We both looked at profiles on our own and came up with lists of the donors we really liked, then compared to see which ones were the same. My husband is very analytical. He created a spreadsheet and organized donors based on physical characteristics, if they were proven donors, their age, etc. It just so happened that we had several donors in common on our lists and were able to move forward from there.

Carrie: We reviewed profiles separately and each made our own lists. Then, we compared our lists and narrowed it down to the donors we had in common. We sent our top choices to Egg Donor Solutions to get more information about the donors and made our decision from there.

Jennifer: I always knew in the back of my mind that we were going to need an egg or sperm donor. After years of trying, once we made it to the IVF stage, I asked my doctor what the best course of action would be – should I keep trying with my own eggs or should we move on to a donor? He advised that I probably would be able to use my eggs, but it might take a few attempts to get a genetically normal embryo. I was tired of the heartache. When I joined my fertility clinic, I grabbed a bunch of pamphlets, and Egg Donor Solutions (EDS) was one of them. I had already picked my donor before even having the discussion with my doctor. I knew subconsciously that we were going to go this route with the donor and with EDS. My husband didn’t care; he just wanted to have a family with me. He wanted me to be happy. He liked the donor for the same reasons I did, but ultimately, I was the one who made the choice. For us, having a family was more than genetics. We didn’t care how it happened. We just wanted to be parents. I feel like we were always meant to be Bennett’s parents, and I will always be thankful to the donor and EDS for making our dreams come true.

Hillary: We looked at profiles separately as well as together. We discussed the ones we really liked and picked our top choices. When it came to making a final decision, my husband let me take the lead. I wanted to meet our donor in person, but that wasn’t something he needed to make a decision. It was important to me to feel a connection and get a sense of who she was as a person. I didn’t feel like I could do that without meeting her.

Why did you choose your donor? Can you describe the connection you felt that made you decide to choose her?

Amy: Our donor’s eyes are similar in color and shape to mine, so it was nice to have that physical characteristic in common. She was at the top of both mine and my husband’s lists because we loved her answers to the essay questions, as well as her family values and interests.  When you read through the donor profiles, you get a sense of if you would like and relate to that person. Our donor seemed like someone I would be friends with, and that connection was so important to me. She also seemed like someone who was loyal and trustworthy. She liked the same books, foods and music that I do. While I was not able to meet my donor or get to know her personally, these things we had in common were what made me choose her. She had so many traits we loved and would love to pass on to our daughter.

Carrie: We liked that she had thoughtful responses on the questionnaire. She mentioned having a friend or family member who had struggled with infertility, and that was part of the reason she wanted to be a donor. We also did a Skype session with our donor, and it went very well. She wasn’t too young and had been a donor before, so we felt like she had a good sense of the commitment involved with being an egg donor. After a negative experience at another agency, that was important to us.

Jennifer: In reading our donor’s bio, I felt like she was doing it for the right reasons. She talked a lot about her family and how much she loved them, so that endeared me to her. As I mentioned, I felt a connection when I saw her photo. It’s hard to explain, but I just knew she was the one.

Hillary: Based on her profile, she seemed like she would be a very fun and interesting person. She mentioned being an artist, playing the saxophone and belonging to a hula-hoop troop. She indicated that she was very close to family, and it seemed like she really wanted to help another family by being an egg donor. I met her for dinner before the egg retrieval and got to know her some. She was very kind and genuine. As we said goodbye, we hugged, and she said that I was going to be a great mom. That has always stuck with me, and I think speaks to the kind of person she is.

It’s important for intended moms to know that an egg donor is not a replacement for themselves. They will play a huge role in the way they nurture their child.

What do you see in your donor-conceived child or children that is a reflection of you and how you are raising them?

Amy: I’m a speech pathologist by trade, and I spend a lot of time working with my daughter on language development. We use little signs and songs to learn new words. She’s very language driven, so she’s picked a lot of that up very quickly. It’s her strength. Another example is how she has embraced our family’s love of the beach. It’s neat to see how some of the things we have purposefully put into Hallie’s life are things she enjoys and are shaping her into the person she will become.

Carrie: They are extremely headstrong children. They don’t get that from my husband; he’s so easygoing. They also love to read like I do. They always want one more book.

Hillary: My daughter is very affectionate and says “I love you” all the time. That’s something I have made a point to do every day since she was a baby. She has an adventurous spirit and loves to visit new places.  She’s also very silly and has a great sense of humor. She gets that from both my husband and I. We’re always laughing and joking around as a family. It makes life fun!

Jennifer: Bennett’s personality is a lot like mine. He’s very hard-headed. When he’s focused on something, nothing will deter him. He will only do something if he wants to do it, not because you ask him to. He’s also funny and has a little bit of a sarcastic sense of humor, which I think he gets from me.

We will continue this Q&A next week in the Intended Parents Blog. Learn more about egg donation today.

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