This is a continuation of our Q&A with former intended parents regarding how they chose their egg donors. You can find part one here on our Intended Parents Blog.
Twins Cooper and Zoe, age 4 (also has a biological daughter Willow, age 10)
Son Bennett, age 2
Daughter Hallie, age 1 (also has a biological son, Eli, age 4)
Daughter Corinne, age 5
Did you have any reservations about having a child via egg donation? If so, how did you overcome those?
Amy: I never had great results with my own egg retrieval cycles. I completed three cycles with only one successful pregnancy carried by a surrogate. Egg donation was the only good option for us to have another baby that could still have a biological connection to one of us (my husband). Although already having a biological child did make it easier for us to decide to grow our family this way, there were so many unexpected positives to egg donation that we realized along the way. We ended up having several high-quality, genetically tested embryos of both genders to freeze, which is something I never had with my own cycles. We had the ability to choose the gender of the baby we transferred, and I really love that I was able to have a boy and a girl. Egg donation ended up being such an incredible option for us, and I am so thankful we were able to go down this path.
Carrie: Yes. It took me a long time to get to a point where I was okay with using an egg donor. I had to assure myself that we had done everything we could on our own. I think everyone is different, and for me, I needed that assurance. We wanted our older daughter to have a genetic connection to her siblings, and we knew donor egg IVF was the only way we could do that. Once we made the decision, the process of going through donor egg IVF was not nearly as emotionally wrenching as regular IVF because we knew our chances of success were so much better.
Jennifer: I had no reservations about the egg donation process. I knew I’d have to go this route if I wanted to have a family and carry a child. If this hadn’t worked, we would have fostered or tried to adopt. My biggest fear was that it wasn’t going to work. After years of negativity I never thought it would work. And after my son was born, because he had a traumatic birth and was in the NICU, I was afraid I was going to lose him after everything we’d been through to have him.
Hillary: When the idea of using donor eggs was first presented by my doctor, I was in shock. It felt surreal. I was 31, and my husband and I were trying IVF for the first time. The cycle ended up being canceled because I wasn’t responding to the medication due to having an extremely low ovarian reserve. It took me a long time to decide that using an egg donor was right for me. I had to grieve the loss of the biological child that I couldn’t have. But once I made the decision, I was excited and ready to move forward. I felt like we were on that path for a reason, and it would lead to the child we were meant to have.
How do you feel about your donor now? What would you say to her?
Amy: Our daughter is such a joy. I’m so grateful there are people who are willing to help others have a family. I would tell our donor thank you for helping us complete our family. I would also want to ask her about some of my daughter’s traits to see if she gets them from the donor.
Carrie: I would tell her thank you. Right after the twins were born, I was very emotional about it. I sent our donor a letter through the Donor Sibling Registry thanking her. Now that it’s been several years, the fact that our twins are donor-conceived doesn’t feel so overwhelming. It’s just part of their story.
Jennifer: I love our donor, and I think about her every day. It takes a very special human being to give someone the gift of egg donation. I recently joined the Donor Sibling Registry, and we’ve found each other. I feel like we have a connection already, and I look forward to every message. We just recently shared our personal information. I hope that she becomes a part of our lives in any capacity she is comfortable with. I feel so relieved that we were able to make this connection. It’s important not only for Bennett and myself but for her as well. She will always hold a special place in my heart. I can’t put into words what she means to me.
Hillary: I will always be very grateful to our donor because without her, I wouldn’t have my daughter. And I honestly can’t image having any other child. I recently reconnected with our donor and shared some photos and information about our family. She is open to staying in touch, and I am thankful for that as well. My daughter may have questions as she gets older, and I want to make sure she has access to any information she needs or wants in the future.
What are the benefits of working with an agency like Egg Donor Solutions (EDS)?
Carrie: EDS made the process so easy. The communication was wonderful, and we knew what to expect at every single step. EDS had never worked with our IVF clinic before, but the process went very smoothly. They were compassionate, kind and organized. They made sure we were well prepared for every single step of what was going to happen. We had been through IVF before but not with an egg donor, and they helped take the fear out of the unknown by keeping us informed.
Jennifer: They were fantastic to work with. They helped us navigate a difficult process. They were there to answer questions and guide us through every step of the process. Even though my journey with EDS is over, they still help and respond to my questions. I worked primarily with Katy, Kallie and Meg, and all three are absolutely fantastic. I appreciate them for everything they do. They are empathetic and professional, and they go above and beyond to make the process go smoothly. I can’t recommend EDS enough.
Hillary: EDS made what could have been a complicated process very easy for us. They took us through the process step by step, so we always knew what to expect. Calls and emails were always returned promptly. They facilitated an in-person meeting with our donor, which is something not all agencies would be willing to do. EDS is ethical in an industry where ethics isn’t always the priority. They go above and beyond to ensure that both intended parents and donors are treated well and that everyone has a good experience.
What advice do you have for intended parents who are considering egg donation to grow their family?
Amy: It’s hard when you first learn that an egg donor is your best option, but over time, you come to realize what an incredible option it is. It’s a way for you to have a family. My advice is to take it day by day. Any reservations you have about how you will feel or if you will love a donor-conceived child as much as a biological one – you don’t need to worry because you will. You get to be a parent, and it’s incredible.
Carrie: Be sure that egg donation is the right path for you before you embark on it. I think it would have been very difficult for me if I had not resolved my feelings and reservations before we started down the path of donor egg IVF. I also highly recommend using an agency like Egg Donor Solutions versus an in-house donor program through an IVF clinic. I never considered using a donor through an IVF clinic, and I stand by that decision. It might be a little more expensive, but I think you get a better selection of donors with an agency. You also have more options if you want the arrangement to be semi-open like we did.
Jennifer: Make sure you are doing it for the right reasons. Really think about why you want a family. Is it because you want to see yourself genetically in your child or is it because you feel like your family will not be complete without a child? And always put your child’s best interests first. Egg donation is a wonderful gift, but sometimes your ego has to take a back seat when you have a child this way. It’s important to remember to put your child first.
Hillary: I don’t think using an egg donor is the way anyone initially plans to have a family. Know that it is okay to have doubts or reservations, but make sure you have worked through those before you begin the process. When you are deciding on an egg donor, try to think of it from the perspective that you are choosing someone to help you have a family versus trying to find your twin or someone to replace you. Focus on the child you are creating and know that once that baby is in your arms, it won’t matter how he or she was conceived. You will be that child’s parent, and no one can replace you.
A sincere thank you to all of the moms who participated in this interview!