What do you do when you want a baby more than anything in the world but your body just won’t cooperate? Borrow someone else’s! In the case of an egg donor, you really only need to borrow a very small piece.
Okay, so it isn’t really “borrowing” since you won’t be giving it back, but you get the drift. Chances are, you are pretty familiar with the concept of an egg donor. If not, basically one woman donates her eggs to help another woman get pregnant. Not too complicated, right? Well, if you’re not careful in choosing your egg donor, it can be. You basically have three options: use eggs from a family member, get a friend to donate or go through an “egg bank.” Let’s look at the pros and cons of each.
Egg Donor Options: Which One Should You Choose?
Using a family member as an egg donor
Perhaps you have a sister, cousin or young aunt who is willing to donate her eggs to help you finally get those two lines on that pregnancy test. Before you jump on her offer, there are a few things you should consider:
- Medical History: The greatest “pro” of using a relative (especially a sister) is that you already have complete access to your child’s family medical history, because it’s pretty much your own medical history as well. Of course, this can have a negative side too if certain diseases run in your family.
- Emotional Bond: Emotionally, you may feel more “biologically” attached to your baby because you still share some of the same DNA. Maybe you’re thinking “that’s crazy, I’ll love my baby no matter who she comes from,” and you’re right, you most likely will. But for some women, that biological bond does matter. There is no shame in admitting it.
- Too close for comfort: On the flip side, using an egg donor from a family member means that the biological mom will always be close by. It can be incredibly difficult for her to watch “her” baby grow up. It can also be difficult on you to see them together at family functions and constantly be reminded that she is your baby’s biological mother. Again, not all women will feel this way. You need to examine your feelings as well as those of your egg donor before making a decision.
Egg donation from a friend
Many women receive egg donations from friends. I had an amazing friend who offered to do it for me when I was having difficulty conceiving. I eventually conceived on my own (with help from Clomid) but I appreciated the offer and would have taken her up on it if it came down to it. Let’s look at the benefits and drawbacks of using a friend’s eggs.
- Medical history: While you may not have complete access to your friend’s medical history, at least you know where to go to get answers should questions arise.
- Emotional impact: While you won’t feel that same “DNA’ bond as you would with a family egg donor, there is still a deep bond between friends. It may help you feel like you “know” your baby a little better.
- Impact on friendship: Just like a family egg donor can be a little too close for comfort, so can a friend. While family is family for life, your friendship could become strained by the process. Again, it’s important to know where both of you stands on the subject.
Anonymous egg donations
Honestly, this may be the best way to go for many people.
- Medical history: The anonymous egg donor is vigorously screened by the facility that accepts the donations. This typically includes both medical and psychological exams. When you choose your donor, you can see her vital statistics like age, weight, height, ethnicity and so on. The downside is that not every medical condition can be discovered through a questionnaire or cursory exam. Should something come up later in your child’s life, it can be incredibly difficult-if not impossible-to get in touch with the donor for more information.
- Emotional impact: The database also includes some information about the potential donor’s interests, hobbies and education. This allows you to choose someone with a similar background to your own. While interests and hobbies really aren’t passed down genetically, it can help you feel more bonded to your baby.
- Fear of the unknown– One major downside to using an anonymous donor is dealing with the complete unknown. I am a “worst case scenario” person, so my mind automatically goes to the bizarre. What if your baby grows up and falls in love with a great guy who turns out to be her brother! You have no way of knowing how many siblings your baby has out there! Yes, it’s a highly unlikely scenario. If you’re a “worst case scenario” type of person too, though, these are things you have to consider, because there may come a time when they really start to bother you.
The bottom line in all three egg donor scenarios is to know yourself and know your donor (or not know your donor!). Really examine your own feelings on each potential donor. If you choose to go with the known, you also really need to factor in their feelings. See, it’s really not quite as simple as borrowing a cup of sugar from a neighbor, is it?
Would you consider using an egg donor if you couldn’t use your own eggs? Have you used an egg donor? We’d love to hear from you in the comments! If you have used a donor and feel comfortable talking to us about it, contact us through “share your story” and we’ll share it with your fellow readers.