If you have decided to pursue in vitro fertilization (IVF) or surrogacy with donor eggs, you are facing a big decision: choosing an egg donor. The process of choosing may seem overwhelming, and you may not know where to begin, especially if you do not know anyone who has been through the process before. An attorney experienced in reproductive law can help you with the process. Here are some of the things we encourage our assisted reproduction clients to consider when choosing an egg donor.
Many people who come to the decision to use donor eggs do so after learning that a pregnancy is not possible with their (or their partner’s) eggs. This can be difficult and painful to come to terms with. You may be feeling disappointment, loss, anxiety, and grief. If one partner will have a genetic connection to a future child and one will not, there may even be jealousy. All of these feelings are natural, and you should acknowledge and process them before moving forward.
Before you choose a particular donor, you need to think about whether you want the donor to be someone known to you, or someone selected through a fertility center or agency for egg donors. Both have their advantages. If you want your child to have a biological connection to your family, asking a relative to donate eggs might be right for you. An experienced reproductive law attorney can help you define in advance any relationship between the child and the egg donor. Asking a family member or friend for an egg donation can affect the dynamics of your relationship, so this is something to consider and discuss with your attorney, too.
Many people prefer to use eggs from an anonymous egg donor, sometimes to avoid complicating existing relationships. Your attorney can help coordinate the donation process through the fertility center or egg donor agency. The egg donor should agree in writing to waive all parental rights to any child born from her donated eggs. Your attorney will make sure any such contract is valid and covers all necessary issues. This is especially important in South Carolina where no donor statute exists to automatically terminate the rights of a donor.
Another reason some people choose egg donation from an anonymous donor is that many donors have donated previously, so they know what to expect from the process and have demonstrated a good response to the fertility medications involved. While there is no legal limit to the number of times a woman can choose to donate eggs, and no long-term studies on the health effects of repeated donation cycles, most fertility centers do not recommend a woman donate eggs more than a few times.
One reason some people ask a family member to donate eggs is that they want a child who will share their ethnicity and possibly bear a resemblance to the prospective parents. If this is important to you, know that agencies may offer large databases of prospective donors, making it possible to choose an egg donor who bears a physical resemblance to one or both prospective parents or comes from the same ethnic or religious background.
Beyond ethnicity, hair color, and eye color, there are other physical attributes that may be important to you. If you and your partner are tall, you may want to select a tall donor to improve the chances of your child being tall, for instance. If athletic activity is something you value, and you hope for a child who is athletic, you might want to select an egg donor with that trait. Keep in mind, of course, that there is no guarantee that just because your egg donor is a great basketball or lacrosse player, your child will be as well.
Of course, there is also no guarantee that a child born from the egg of an intelligent egg donor will grow up to be a genius, but there is some genetic component to intelligence, and many people favor egg donors with an illustrious educational background, or with certain interests, skills, or personality traits. If you are a musical person, you might be drawn to a donor who is an accomplished cellist. If your family values academic accomplishment, you might want eggs from a donor who attended an Ivy League university. There is nothing wrong with this! Just remember that genetics are a funny thing, and be prepared to love and nurture whomever your child turns out to be.
If you have questions about beginning the process of searching for an egg donor, and clearly defining the legal rights and responsibilities of all parties, we invite you to contact Brinkley Law Firm, LLC to schedule a consultation.