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Working with a Known Egg Donor

Posted Jan 30 2010 5:03pm
The term “known egg donor” refers to a family member, acquaintance, or friend who is willing to be an egg donor for you. If you are considering working with a known egg donor, keep in mind some of the additional complexities that are associated with many known egg donor relationships.

Let’s say your sister or cousin has offered to be an egg donor for you. The first thing you should do is schedule an appointment with a mental health professional who specializes in fertility counseling. There is a national group of mental health professionals who are all members of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. These therapists are familiar with both the joys and the pitfalls of working with a known egg donor.

The joy of working with a family member is that the child will share your family genetics and may have a greater chance of looking like you. You may feel you can relate more closely to the child because of this. But will you feel awkward at family gatherings as the years go by? Will your bond with your sister or cousin become stronger due to your shared experience? Or will your relationship become strained? Will you feel that your egg donor relative is playing too big a role in your child’s life, or too small? Will you worry that the child is too close to your egg donor relative, and will you feel threatened? Does she have children of her own? If not, and if she never does, how might that change the family dynamics? These are all serious issues that you need to consider.

Even though you are family, or maybe especially because you are family, you should make sure that you have a contract and some type of substantial compensation for your egg donor’s time and discomfort. If cash feels too crass, you can send her on a great weekend getaway or spa experience to pamper her after the retrieval. Whatever you choose, it is important that she feels your appreciation. You may be grateful, but if you haven’t truly worked through mourning the loss of your own biological child, you may still feel some resentment.

Whatever you do, work with a fertility attorney who knows the ins and outs of fertility law and can put everything in writing. There are excellent fertility attorneys who can help you avoid misunderstandings that could arise when you and your egg donor are hormonally challenged.

If a close friend offers to be your egg donor, you might run into many of the same issues. Though your sister or cousin will always be family, you could become closer to your friend through this shared experience, or it might strain or even ruin a wonderful relationship.

You might also ask an acquaintance to be your egg donor. She looks like you, you love her personality, and she is really bright too. You ask her if she would consider being your egg donor. She is flattered that you think so much of her that you want her to contribute genetically to your family, and she is walking on air for the first week. However, she has never really thought through what egg donation entails. So she starts to think about it, talks to her friends and her mom, and goes online to learn more. Reality hits, and she gets cold feet. She stops returning your calls and doesn’t show up for appointments, and you are devastated. Being an egg donor may be way more than she bargained for. She may not know how to tell you for fear of crushing your dreams. Unfortunately, many such cases fall apart.

To work with a known egg donor, it is important for all parties to seek counseling both together and individually so that you can arrive at a well-thought-out, mature decision. If you can go forward with your eyes wide open, realizing that the dynamics of your relationship may change, the experience can be very enriching for all of you.
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