Choosing An Egg Donor Is A Lot Like Online Dating

by Karen Agresti
Originally Published: 
Karen Agresti

Forty is not the new thirty when it comes to the youthfulness of your uterus, Fallopian tubes, and eggs. Believe me, you cannot Botox this problem away.

Egg donor birth stories are where adoption was 30 years ago — in the closet, veiled in shame and secrecy. Whispers of infertility and donor eggs are rarely confirmed with older celebrities sporting baby bumps and skinny jeans. Did they really?

In 2010, approximately 18,000 women underwent IVF with donor eggs. It’s become the fountain of youth for older woman still dreaming of motherhood. Success rates are increasingly promising, and the pool has grown to include younger women with ovarian failure and other fertility issues.

So why are so many woman keeping hush about the real story behind their new bundle of joy, and what exactly are you in for when you start searching for donor eggs and abandon the quest to conceive on your own?

At 38, my biological clock went off, and I hit the snooze button. It went off again, and I finally dumped the boyfriend who confessed he never wanted to be a dad. I finally met “the one” who swept me off my feet and wanted a family too.

We met in Paris…well, not exactly.

Truth be told, we met on Craigslist while specifically not looking for futons or apartments. It took me a while to share that story too.

Two years and one failed adoption later, we jumped into the deep, dark lagoon of infertility treatment. Our love was strong, and his swimmers were fast, but my eggs had, well, passed their “use by”date.

It was time to find another path.

I’m not ashamed to admit my former dalliances in the internet dating world. If you haven’t done it personally, you’ve undoubtedly looked over your cousin/best friend/co-worker’s shoulder to peek at their prospective Mr. Rights.

So it doesn’t surprise me — at all — that my first look at donor egg sites felt strangely familiar. These sites have clever names like “Conceivables” and “Alternative Conceptions.” They list dozens of women with attractive photos and sparkling white teeth. Suddenly, it felt like I was trolling for dates again.

And there are so many sites — so many choices, in fact, that it’s overwhelming. We laughed through some of it and broke down more than once. It can unearth some unexpected jealousy and other dark feelings you didn’t know you had on the inside.

I felt shallow when I passed over the girl with the big nose (my honey has a honker, and I feared we might have a girl). I felt ashamed when I rejected the one who didn’t go to college or the pre-med student who revealed her mother’s depression. Trust me: This is one of the toughest choices you’ll ever make.

But that’s only the beginning. Wait till you learn what your partner is looking for.

Education and intelligence were at the top of his list (he never would have picked me, as my college GPA wasn’t stellar — ha!). He swore he could detect happiness in someone’s face and wanted someone with a “spark” like mine.

I wanted an artist with dark hair and eyes like my own. I gravitated toward good writers with warm smiles who volunteered and travelled around the world. I suppose I was looking for a little part of me in these women.

We chose not to meet the donors in person. It felt too complicated and uncomfortable for me. Respect those feelings. Donor profiles are fairly detailed, and you can learn a great deal about someone’s personal and health history in just a few pages. Honestly, the whole process is fascinating.

And now for the difficult part: the choice.

After scouring dozens of sites, I kept coming back to one woman. I was drawn into her deep brown eyes and porcelain skin. She was an artist who worked as a nanny because she loved children. She seemed smart and good-natured. I could see us being friends.

Then it occurred to me: I have an egg crush. I said this out loud to my man who was buried in his computer. I thought it would make him laugh — and it did — but I meant it. Despite my good intentions to stay detached, I was totally smitten!

Serendipity came into play when the agency we chose turned out to be run by a childhood friend of mine. Only days prior to deciding, we had reconnected via Facebook. She suggested that we pick at least three candidates in case one might not be available.

I was leading the search, but we both had the power of veto. He was far more detached than I pretended to be. It took nearly a month to decide on our three choices of egg donors.

Looking back, I wish we had decided sooner. After all, time is still (somewhat) of the essence.

Here are some lessons we learned along the way:

1. Prices vary. The beauty queen pre-med student might charge you $12,000 (average is $5,500 to $8,500) for her Grade A eggs.

2. Timing is tricky and websites are not always accurate. The girl who’s “In Cycle” (i.e., already committed to someone else for that time period) may actually be available, and the girl who is not “In Cycle” might not be. Also, we wanted someone local, which wasn’t easy to determine on most sites. There are lots of reasons why someone may or may not be available at the time you’re ready.

3. There are high-demand eggs. Think about this: If you have an “egg crush,” you’re probably not the only one. You might have to wait in line for her next cycle. We weren’t willing to delay another cycle. We were ready now.

It turned out another couple felt the same way about my crush as I did, but they acted one week sooner. I was disappointed, but we moved on. It’s human nature to get attached, but remember that timing is everything, and you can’t always control the outcome. Picks 2 and 3 were “in cycle” also.

Shit. Could everyone else really have the same taste in DNA as us? This was getting depressing. It felt like dating all over again. The excitement, then the rejection.

Then I remembered what led me to find my perfect partner match: getting out there again even when you’re sick and tired of being let down. The search was back on and this time, we were better prepared.

We finally agreed on the green-eyed mother with the English degree. We hired a lawyer, signed the donor contract, and ordered the long list of meds. Game on!

I was halfway through our cycle of daily meds and in-your-buttcheek shots when I received a phone call that our donor had been in a bad car accident. Thankfully, we learned that she would recover. But would I? My heart ached. Doubt devoured me. The mail arrived with yet another baby shower invitation. I poured myself a giant glass of wine and crawled under the covers. Indefinitely.

Two days later, the phone rang and my husband made me answer it. It was my friend from the donor agency, excited about the news that the brown-eyed artist with the flawless skin (my first egg crush) was now available to be our donor. Time was finally on my side!

Fast-forward six years.

Two incredible, healthy boys later, I can’t imagine my sons being anyone other than who they are. And they will grow up knowing how they came to be.

I will forever be grateful for the woman who chose to donate her eggs that allowed me to become a mother. She is a goddess to me. My sons may be miracles of science, but I am their proud mother. And they continue to amaze me every single day.

This post was originally published on Lucie’s List.

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