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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Thoughts on being a DE Mom: part 2, the agency and more

First off, let me say that I am so thrilled at all the comments that people left. I haven't had a lot of time to peruse others blogs recently, but I am absolutely going to visiting soon and I look forward to reading about where you are in your journey. And for those of you that signed up as a 'follower,' well, you made my day. You really did :)

Before I write about my thoughts on DE during and after pregnancy, I thought that it might be of interest to some of you as to how we picked our donor.

Picking a donor the Brenda way: picking an agency to work with

I wouldn't say that we took that long to pick a donor. It seemed like we took much longer to pick an agency. In the state where I live, the hospital does not give you a list of donors to choose from, you can choose whatever donor you like, but it is coordinated through an agency.

Since egg donation is mostly a self-governing field, there was a myriad of donor agencies to choose from. We could pick out agencies that were located in states far from our own, but would fly donors to our clinic (at our cost). We could pick agencies that were headquartered in another state, but had donors in our state. We could choose from an agency that was run by lawyers or those that were run by lay people. The costs seemed to run the gamut as well. When we were looking into DE (2008) the general recommendations were that a donor should only charge $10K or less for compensation for time. The agency fees were not established (nor do I think that they are now).

DH and I thought that we would like to pick a donor in our state, because really, if we weren't going to try to find my exact clone, then it wasn't really worth scouring the world. After talking to agencies, I created a lovely speadsheet complete with URLs of sites, passwords, info on how many donors in our area they had, what there cost structure was, etc. It was very helpful to have all of this in one area so that we could compare. We ended up talking in more detail to 2 agencies. One was run by a lawyer who touted that she followed the general donor egg guidelines (no more than $10K for compensation) and a privately run agency that was run similarly. Both were located in our area.

We spoke to both the women that ran the agencies and gave a description of what we were looking for:

features: dark hair, light skin; preferably of irish/english descent; Local to the area

We left open the age and contact availability for a later time.

While the lawyer proceeded to find us lovely women that were located all over the United States and would be willing to let us fly them and a friend to our clinic. The other agency found us lovely local women who could drive to our clinic. Since the second agency had clearly listened to our requests, we decided to go with them. In short order they had emailed us a list women along with ages, pictures and brief descriptions. We chose a half of a dozen of these women to find out more info about.

Within a few days, a packet was sent to our house which contained the profiles of these 6+ women, including pictures of them as they grew up and their medical histories. I must admit, it was really surreal looking at these women and knowing that we would be asking one of them to donate her eggs. I don't even know how to describe it. It almost felt shopping. I shudder to even say that. It is just that you don't know these women and you are picking a person who is going to help you achieve a dream and they are reduced to facts, figures and numbers. It felt sort of awkward and impersonal. We just prayed that we would make the right decision.

Picking a donor:

After resigning ourselves to the awkwardness of it all, I went through and made my top 4 list. DH did the same. We compared notes and found that we had 3 that overlapped. We inquired about the three, only to find that one was going through a cycle now and that she would likely not be available for a few months. That left 2. Two women of equal worth, either one of which could help us make our dreams come true.

Holly was in her early 20's; looked quite similar to me and was a proven donor.

Renee was in her late 20's; looked a little less like me, was a proven donor, was married and had two children.

We were really looking for someone that was in her mid to late 20's, preferably was a mother herself and would be willing to meet the kids when they turned 18. Upon discussing our preferred requirements with our social worker at the hospital, she told us that finding this woman was nearly impossible. Most of the egg donors are young and wish to remain anonymous. Keeping that in mind, we decided that if either woman was able to donate for us, we would be happy with whatever came our way.

I called the agency and talked to the director, telling her that we like both Holly and Renee very much, but had a couple of questions: 1) Would our donor be willing to meet the kids when they reached 18 and --a curve ball here---2) Would she be willing to meet us?

The director of the agency called back within an hour saying that Holly would prefer to remain anonymous, but Renee would be willing to meet with both us and any future kids! We had our donor!!

Next up: meeting the donor, DE pregnancy and feelings after the kids were born and now.

Also, do you have any questions for me? Are you going through the same things now? Please feel free to ask questions and I will answer them the best I can.


Summer said...

I didn't have a chance until now to comment on your last post, but we went through DE/IVF in Spring of 2008. Our thoughts on a donor were very similar to yours and although we eventually used an anonymous donor recent events (ie cycling for a sibling with the same donor) let us to a known donation.

When we were searching for a donor, I too set up a spreadsheet with agency data! It felt like the only way to manage all that information. In my case, we were looking for an Asian donor (specifically, Chinese) so we were focused on agencies that had Asian donors available.

Looking forward to reading more posts on being a DE mom!

Michelle D said...

Enjoyed the post. We also felt very similar. We never saw pictures of the donor (that would have been nice to know). We were given 1 donor profile initially based on our preferences and asked for a couple more. Long story short...We ended up choosing the first and honestly it felt like fate had led us to her. Upon reading how others have ended up with their donors it really does seem like the stars align to bring you (and others) the right donor :)

Sue said...

I also found my own donor, met her, and asked that she be willing to have future contact with any offspring (which was completely vague and undefined). I have no idea what the future holds for us, but, like you, these are things that were important to us. My husband was adopted by his parents in a standard 1969 closed adoption, so we already know what it's like to know nothing about you biological relatives. We didn't want that for our own children.

I look forward to reading more!

Dora said...

These posts are awesome! I think it's wonderful that you chose a donor who was willing to be open. I really hope this is the future of egg donation.

St Elsewhere said...

Wow Brenda, I have not really been through donor eggs route, but this post is informative. Also, the fact that the donor was so open with you is a huge plus.

Good Luck with everything.

And thank you for the support you extend to me.


foxy said...

Choosing donor gametes is such a bizarre experience. We had to do it three different times, because after each cycle our chosen sperm donor sold out. I worried about it and put it off until the last minute, but My husband made it a much easier experience. And it was actually interesting to see the things that mattered to him.

He was good at keeping us focused on the fact that we would never find a choice that 'we wanted' to make (meaning him), and that we just needed to make a choice. Without his logical approach I might have gone insane dealing with that decision.

Reading the blogs and stories of others who have made these choices helped immensely. and still does! especially now that this choice is becoming very real for us.

Anonymous said...

Found you through EB's blog. This post was really interesting for me. My baby was a donated embryo, created originally for a married couple using both donated eggs and sperm. (They ended up with twins and had *leftovers*). I have data sheets on the donors, but never got to see a photograph of either. Your post makes me wonder if original married couple got to see pictures. Sometimes I wonder which donor had the very almond shaped eyes my son has. Then I debate whether I'd want to know what the donors look like or not. Thank you for sharing your experience of the process.

Danielle said...

Thanks for this- after 2 pregnancy losses, one from an IVF cycle, and two additional failed IVF cycles, we have decided to go the DE route and have just been matched with a donor. I am struck by how committed you were to going in with eyes wide open about the donor's identity, as I suppose I am going through this with one eye closed in order to focus on the egg and not the donor.

Since you're inviting questions, I am wondering how much and in what ways your understanding of the donor's role in your family and in your own mind has changed over time.

Many thanks, and looking forward to reading.