You have decided that egg donation is the right path to parenthood for you; no doubt, it was already a journey to get to this point, right? Now, onto the most exciting part of the process – choosing an egg donor (well, maybe second most exciting: right after witnessing your future child’s graduation). It is a special time and there are so many factors to consider, you may not really even know where to start. Good news! We support many Parents through this process and have loads of tips on choosing an egg donor. The most important one? There is no right or wrong way to make this decision. You will know what is important to you and you will connect with a profile of an egg donor that will feel just right for you. Read on to find out what factors you may want (or not) to consider that other Intended Parents look for when choosing an egg donor.
When you decide to use donor eggs in your fertility journey, you will find a lot of information on potential egg donors and, of course, how to choose an egg donor. For many people, the first thing they will consider is their potential egg donor’s looks. If it’s important that your baby looks like you, or your partner, you can consider egg donors of your ethnicity, with your hair color, eye color or height and body build. Keep in mind that, although choosing an egg donor who looks like you increases the chance of your baby having similar features to you, our genetic makeup comes from generations of our ancestors (think hundreds of years!) and a child whose both parents have dark, curly hair can still turn out to be a proud owner of blond straight hair!
On the other hand, you may have this picture of your future child and she or he is super tall and beautiful. Or talented; artistically and musically. Or athletic. Sounds shallow? For some, maybe, but no one is judging here. If it is what’s important to you, you can select an egg donor who has the qualities you are looking for. And whose mother wouldn’t want to give their child the best shot in life? It’s an intimate choice and it’s yours to make. Of course, these traits will not automatically be passed on to your child however considering these factors will help you to select an egg donor who shares your lifestyle and values.
Another factor for some parents-to-be in choosing an egg donor we often see is the level of education or academic ability. Yes, some claim that it’s scientifically proven that children inherit intelligence from their genetic mothers, but do you remember the nature vs. nurture debate? And nurture begins in the heart of a mother – You.
You will be wondering what your future child will look like and what they will be like – all mothers are curious about this and children are a lot of surprises every day!
For many intended parents there is another consideration; matching blood types. For some it is a belief that if your egg donor’s blood type matches exactly one of the intended parent’s blood types, the baby will inherit the same blood type which can be beneficial in certain circumstances, i.e. the parent will be able to donate blood to their child if there was ever a need. It is worth while keeping in mind that baby will inherit only one AB0 gene from each parent (or an egg donor and a sperm source) and their blood type will most likely not match.
Are you still unsure about revealing to your child (and the rest of the world) – that they were conceived through egg donation? Privacy is another potential reason for some intended parents to choose an egg donor who shares one of the parent’s blood types. You may consider choosing an egg donor whose blood type matches yours or your partner’s.
Egg Donors go through a thorough medical, genetic and psychological screening and will not qualify for an egg donation program if there are issues. However, if your first choice egg donor’s father is red-green color blind – will this matter to you? It’s ok if it does. It’s ok if it doesn’t. What’s important is that you carefully study a potential donor’s medical history before making your decision. Your doctor can help you look at any potential donor’s medical information so you can decide who the best fit for your family is.
An egg donor’s profile isn’t just a list of genetic and medical traits, it is a glimpse into the donor’s personality; from what she was like as a child, what was it like growing up in her family, what her favorite book or movie is, to what her goals are in life and why she wants to be a part of another person’s fertility journey. This will give you a good sense of who your egg donor is as a person and allow you to truly connect to her.
Some people are drawn to egg donors who share their own personality traits. Others consider donors who have very different personalities, hoping that they will pass traits to their children that they may not possess themselves (the ‘I was a shy child and I wish for my child to be outgoing and sociable’) Will you connect to an egg donor who is a go-getter, or a person who is more laid back? Someone funny and lighthearted or someone more serious and reserved? Maybe you don’t have any specific traits in mind but would like to choose an egg donor who shares your general worldview. Regardless of what you’re looking for, you will find an egg donor whose personality “clicks” with yours.
Of course, an egg donor’s personality is not a guarantee that a resulting child will share that personality (remember the ancestors and the nature vs. nurture debate? Add epigenetics for good measure!). However, just like your donor’s interests and talents, their personality provides you with a clear picture of who they are as a person, allowing you to feel a kinship with her and your future child from the very beginning.
Most women using donor eggs have battled with infertility in the past and would like to choose the donor eggs that will most likely result in pregnancy. For many intended parents, this means choosing an egg donor that has been proven successful – a woman who has donated eggs in the past with positive outcomes.
Previous egg donation outcomes are important and a good indication of the quality of donor eggs. But even the most successful egg donors were once women donating for the very first time! All of our donors undergo thorough medical screenings, which include ovarian follicle count, to ensure that they are good candidates for egg donation. Still, working with a woman who has donated before or has been pregnant herself might be a priority for you, just like working with a woman who looks a certain way might be what is most important to someone else. It’s simply a matter of prioritizing the factors that are most meaningful for your family.
While scientific advancements have made egg donation, surrogacy, IVF, and other fertility treatments safe, common, and largely successful, there are still limitations in this science. Although the term “designer baby” is often used in the media, it’s not possible to truly design every aspect of your future child. You can select your egg donors based on a variety of things; however there is no real guarantee that your child will possess the exact traits you’ve screened for.
Although the genetic information your egg donor provides is certainly important, your child’s genes are not the only factor that influences their development. In fact, research suggests that a mother’s uterine environment plays a key role in the overall health of their growing baby, influencing the child’s brain development, immune system function, metabolics, and more. Psychological wellbeing (or stress) of the birth mother (You) may also impact the baby.
The science of how a person’s environment influences their genetic expression and development is called epigenetics. By studying epigenetics, scientists are learning just how important a baby’s environment (both inside and outside of the uterus) can be. Check out our blog for more information on epigenetics.
To sum up; each of us is an individual and who we are and will be as a person in the future is a combination of so many factors that it’s just another story. Isn’t it exciting?
Choosing the egg donation center is as important as choosing the right egg donor. You might think that all egg donation programs are created equal. After all, they are all designed to provide you with the same end result. The truth is that fertility clinics and egg donation centers can vary greatly. Choosing the right program will not only increase your chances of a successful egg donation process, but it will also ensure that you are looked after by professionals who share your values and can provide you with peace of mind during this – although super exciting – sometimes intimidating journey.
To ensure absolutely best outcomes for our Intended Parents and best care and experience for the egg donors, we have an in-house egg donation program here at Santa Monica Fertility. There are many reasons why we are achieving one of the highest egg donation success rates in the country, but the main one is something no other egg donation programs have; our Team:
Like many other fertility decisions, choosing an egg donor is personal. Knowing which factors are important to you and working with a trusted doctor will help you feel confident about your decision.
You can also view our amazing egg donors here.