• Thu, Jan 2 - 11:00 am ET

Bullish Life: The Truth About Egg Donation

The truth about egg donation

Jennifer Dziura writes career and life advice on TheGloss and headquartered on GetBullish.com.

I donated eggs — to gay men, through an agency, in exchange for money — twice in my twenties. At one point, I was in the Washington Post about it. As a result of going public, I’ve gotten a good number of questions about it, and more requests than I can count from young women writing for their school newspapers.

The basics: The way egg donation is run, the parents who received my eggs have seen photos (and even a video interview) of me, whereas all I ever learned about them was first name and state of residence.

At one point I was told that one of my donations had been successful.

Intended parents who receive the eggs can basically use them at will, so it’s possible that someone used my eggs to have twins and then kept some more embryos in the freezer for later (embryos freeze a lot better than unfertilized eggs). So my egg donations have produced at least one child, and possibly quite a few more.

In 2007, I was on a panel about egg donation, along with doctors and psychologists. A psychologist remarked that egg donors are so giving and would never do something like that for the money.

Of course there are no such expectations of sperm donors.

I retorted that saying that financially struggling young women donate eggs out of the goodness of their hearts is like saying that poor men work in coal mines because they are so concerned that the rich have enough electricity.

Obviously, I was making a sarcastic comment, but egg donation and coal mining do have a few things in common in that they involve some physical danger, and they’re both forms of income generation that are not even considered by people who are born wealthy. When my grandmother died of ovarian cancer, it did not escape me that holy shit, I hyperstimulated my ovaries with hormones ON PURPOSE.

Egg donation is dangerous, folks. Or at least, it very well could be, and there isn’t a lot of financial motivation on anyone’s part to find out.

Of course, some egg donors, and some sperm donors, are indeed motivated primarily by altruism. In fact, the panel on which I was sarcastic (that actually could refer to a lot of events in my life) also featured another egg donor who had donated three times, at least one of which she had not been paid for, because she was a really nice and earnest person who loved babies and wanted others to love them too.

But when agencies advertise for egg donors, the ads never say, “Do you have a big heart?” They usually have a picture of a blonde model and say something about making $10,000.

Here’s a question.

Good afternoon, I am [name redacted] and I was actually referred to you by a person on Reddit. I recently asked a question about being an egg donor and seeing as you have been one I was wondering what the pro’s and con’s were to it. If there was anything they are not telling me in the ads? Your response would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Ah, interesting! What don’t they tell you in the ads?

Allow me.

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  • Lindsey Conklin

    Wow, this is so interesting!

  • Samantha_Escobar

    I’ve always wondered about what egg donation was like, as well as what the ads don’t mention (_____ FOR $$$ ads always seem to be missing stuff…). I can’t donate–I don’t have great DNA, ha–but I know so many women who have debated it or are still debating it to themselves, so I’m really glad you wrote this.

  • Anne Marie Hawkins

    I would add two cautions, learned from emotionally supporting a close friend while she went through egg donation and its aftermath:
    One, make sure you’re doing it for yourself. She did it to help her boyfriend at the time pay for school, as well as finance their cross-country move to said school’s city. Once she had paid his first semester’s tuition, he dumped her and kicked her out of their apartment.
    Two, carefully vet your agency and contract. They tried to tell her she wouldn’t be paid unless her donation resulted in the birth of a healthy baby. They also demanded that she donate not just eggs, but a whole ovary. The whole situation was pretty fucked up.
    It’s been a couple years, and she’s glad she did it, but sometimes she does wonder if her son, who is now a toddler, would be better off knowing his potential sibling(s.)

    • marilynn

      The son she’s raising is no more deserving of her care and attention than any sons or daughters she’s not raising. Not raising her kids does not mean she’s not their mother. The fact that someone else carried her children makes no difference to her kids who can’t remember prior to birth, pregnancy is a novelty of the rearing female and could just as easily been handled by her if she’d felt like it. Her kids won’t recall that. They’ll wonder what makes the kid she’s raising deserving of her love and not them. If she finds a compassionate answer to that question one like – nothing you are just as important to him and I did not understand that at the time, I was snowjobbed, then she can end up having a great relationship with them if she ever finds them. She should look that will make them feel good if they ever look for her.

    • Anne Marie Hawkins

      I get what you’re saying, although I really disagree that pregnancy is a “novelty,” given that it’s serious business and can permanently affect the pregnant person’s body.

    • marilynn

      Fair enough novelty is a tacky choice of words. A better choice of words would be that a woman is always in charge of her own body and reproduction. In theory her eggs could be harvested and even fertilized and she could order them not to implant them because she as a free person has the right to change her mind and not reproduce so long as that decision does not interfere with the bodily autonomy of someone else whose pregnant and obviously could not be forced to abort. Allowing someone else to carry her pregnancies is totally at her desretion. She’s agreed in theory to reproduce and have offspring but she could have carried her offspring herself or a gestational carrier could have delivered her offspring, she’s in charge of her own body and she allowed someone else to carry her offspring but it was not essential that any particular person do the carrying in order for her offspring to be born and be the same person (albeit impacted by varying environmental factors associated with whoever did the carrying) The bond her offspring will form with whoever assumes the roll of mother will be set in stone through the caregiving that occurs outside the womb wen the kid interacts with that woman, the pregnancy experience as a bonding mechanism is really recalled by the woman whose pregnant and those around her rather than the kid who won’t recall that as the defining thing that makes them think of a non-bio caregiver as their mother. To the kid, they’ll have a bio mother that is absent and a non bio mother that raised them so the pregnancy bond can only really be grasped by the adults who recall it. Which is to say I have not heard much difference from the kid end in terms of being raised by an adoptive mom far back as they remember and some of the kids who have a non bio mom that was pregnant with them. It is logical to me that they would not see it much different. But emotionally I suppose its anyone’s guss.

  • JennyWren

    This was really, really interesting- thank you for presenting so many different points for consideration.

  • sahm

    I donated once and my situation was quite different. I have always had this odd altruistic streak (my husband put his foot down about a kidney) and looked into egg donation on an online site. I found some wonderful parents based on proximity and values and we met in my hometown before proceeding. They were there for the entire process, the wife even went in for the egg ultrasound. I stayed at their home, we exchange photos and Christmas cards. I am not saying there have not been weird feelings, especially after I had a child of my own. I do not think of it often, but when I do, I wonder what the twin boys will think of the situation as they get older. The mom made a scrapbook about the donation and surrogacy, so I assume they will be open about it. I did receive some money, but not 10 grand! I hope they know I did it because I wanted to help a couple who wanted children more than anything.

    • marilynn

      I help reunite families separated in this way and its cool that you are open to getting to know them and have them know their siblings. I have a question for you or a couple of them. Did you think at all about the fact that their medical records would have to be falsified as part of the process? I mean that their birth record is not just a pink slip of legal parentage its a real vital record and it connects them to someone they are not biologically related to and then also legally disconnects them from your family. They have that same right as everyone else to their relatives vital records without needing permission for medical purposes but because your not named as their mother they are connected to the records of people that are not their maternal relatives. They’ll never be the legal kin of the kids your raising, never be able to take time off work in their elder years to care for a sick sibling, attend a funeral or claim a sibling niece nephew as a relative dependent if they ever reunite and come to rely on one another for care in their elder years. I know these are not thoughts people generally have but the kids rights are undermined and so is your family’s rights to their vital records and identifying info. Lucky you now who they are.
      If they do meet you and wonder why you kept and raised some of your kids but not all will you tell them it was timing or will you tell them that you sort of viewed them as something to be given away as a gift to a woman in need at the time. Would you have given away the kids your raising to someone in need of a child at the time they were born if asked? If not what made the ones you kept special? Was it that you cared about their Dad? If so is a child’s value to his or her mother then solely dependent upon how much she cares about their father and if so is that really fair to her offspring? I’m just curious cause these are things I know are questions in families I am helping reunite and wondered how you would respond. Thanks

  • Lena C

    I donated eggs to my sister several years back. I learned a number of things through the process…

    $8-$10K is NOT NEARLY ENOUGH in my opinion for what it puts your body through and the risks you take (my donation was gratis because it for was my sister). These drugs have very real and very strong side-effects. While they didn’t give me too many issues, I did feel like a hot (literally!), bloated, moody mess for 2 weeks and I was still told I dealt with the drugs “well”

    Also because they deal with it every day and their end goal is to give someone (who is paying them a LOT of money) a baby, RE’s tend to gloss over the very real risks of egg donation, especially in a young woman who is prone to overstimulation. If you decide to move ahead with it, read EVERY SINGLE PAGE of the informed consent forms. Do your own research. Reach out to others who have donated. That was the only wayI found comprehensive and real information on all the risks. Though complications are supposedly rare, I won the lottery on that one. The doc punctured my bladder with the needle used to retrieve the egg cells. I’ll leave that to your imagination, but I did make a full recovery and have no lasting effects.

    Finally, take a close look at yourself. You will have a kid “out there.” That may not seem like a big deal when you’re 22, but when you’re married and having a baby at 32 you may feel differently, you may not. Think long and hard about what you’re doing and what you’re able to deal with and what you’re not able to deal with.

    The egg retrieval I did for my sister was ultimately successful. She gave birth to a baby girl who is now six, almost seven. I see my niece at least once a week. And she is my NIECE, I feel no other connection beyond that one. For me, this egg donation was simply a DNA deposit to help my sister out. I was and am able to disconnect completely. Others can’t. Our RE said only about 30% of the sibling pairs who approach him about egg donation actually go through with it. Either fear of the process or inability to deal with it emotionally stop the process in its tracks.

    Anyway, that my $0.02 from someone who’s been there…

  • marilynn

    I reunite separated families so this is an issue I care a lot about. Don’t think of this as egg donation, that’s what they call it but you know what the agreement you signed said and it was primarily about you not assuming parental responsibility for your offspring conceived with customers once any are born. You have to agree to give up your children first, and they harvest your eggs to make the children you agreed you wanted to have but not raised. If all you were giving them was an egg, there would have been no fertilization allowed by you or pregnancy allowed by you to be carried by another woman or baby allowed by you to be raised absent your own personal parental authority and guidance. You obviously have to agree to give up your kid once born or there is no real reason to harvest your eggs except for research. They call people egg and sperm donors its so silly, its something they were before their children were born. Once born they become parents in the medical sense like anyone else with offspring only their names are not recorded on birth records because it short cuts the adoption process and keeps the whole adoption off the record and out of court where its concealed as a mater of public health (big problem) and concealed from the children of the parents by whoever is raising them. Its up to the people raising the individual abandoned this way to tell them or not, but even if told, they’ll never have the same rights as everyone else unless the law changes. They don’t have a right to an accurate medical record and have no legal kinship with their relatives on the side of the abandoning parent. They can’t access identifying information and vital records because the abandoning parents name is not on their birth record. What’s needed is for the bio parents to be on the birth record totally alone not in concert with the names of the rearing parent because that is just more black market adoption hijinks. Any time someone is named parent of another person’s offspring on a birth record without going through court approved adoption its black market adoption. Money is not the defining factor in black market adoption its that its off the record and out of court. Nobody is being conceived in a special way here. Fertile people are conceiving and sometimes agreeing not to take responsibility when their children are born. People are writing their names in on birth records of other people’s kids without court approved adoption. Its a scam a black market adoption scam, not reproductive technology. Such arrogant bull pucky

    • cv

      I’m curious about the rights to records that you’re referring to. As someone raised by my biological parents, I don’t have any legal access to their medical records other than what they choose to disclose to me. I can look up public birth and death information for extended family the same way I could for complete strangers, but I don’t think being a biological relative ever gives you special access.

      I’m particularly curious about this because I’m pregnant and due to go into labor any day with twins conceived via a sperm donor. We’re a lesbian couple and will obviously be open with our children about their origins. We have a more complete medical record on the donor’s extended family than I do on my own aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. There will also be a legal adoption (not required in our state, but necessary to ensure my wife’s parental rights in other states), and that will be a matter of public record.

      We were careful to select a donor who has stated his willingness to be contacted by the children after they turn 18, from a nonprofit sperm bank that is very supportive of this type of connection, so eventually they will be able to access information based on his name. We’ve tried to be thoughtful about a process that can sometimes be emotionally complicated, so I’m genuinely curious about what sort of information and records you’re referring to that our children will be denied.

    • Guest

      I’m not the person you are replying to, but I am an adoptive Mom and my adoption research has given me some insight where I can maybe answer a little bit.

      You are like me – we are cultivating information and relationships with our son’s biological family to support him in exploring, understanding and knowing about all of those parts of him. So for you and me, some of this stuff doesn’t really apply – whether our kids have the legal right to access certain information or not, we’re going to give it to them.

      But, for a lot of adopted people they do not even have the legal right to find out the name of their biological mother or father. When you adopt, often the child’s original birth certificate (OBC) listing their biological parents is amended to indicate the adoptive parents. In fact, my son’s birth certificate now indicates that I gave birth to him in the state of his birth (not where we live!). The state where he was born has a law that would allow him to access not just his amended birth certificate, but his OBC listing his biological mother’s name. It also allows her to register as to whether she accepts contact from him or declines privacy.

      But in other states, he would not have the right to even KNOW this information. And without knowing her name, how can he even ask what her medical history might be? We asked, and she shared it with us, so we know – much like your situation. But not all non-biological parents do, and some still (sadly) try to hide it from their children. Not even being allowed to get the OBC is a huge hurdle to finding biological parents and other biological relatives that they might want to know.

      The laws are changing, which is an awesome thing. All people should have the right to know WHO those biological relatives are. The biological relatives can choose or deny to engage in contact, or share information – that’s their choice. But without the knowledge, they can’t even start.

    • marilynn

      YES an adoptive parent who totally gets it. You are doing the best you can to mitigate the loss of rights by the child your adopted but you are aware that the law is not fair to him and others in his situation even if your covering his bases personally.

      You get it and you have the empathy people say they wish their adoptive parents had when I’m helping them look for relatives. Just basic like eye to eye some of these laws are really f’d up I’m sorry, its not like you deserve less because your adopted. Hug you.

      Gosh its really hard to communicate that to folks they get defensive.

    • marilynn

      Good I am glad you are interested. I’m thrilled your interested because at least going into this you’ll be aware of rights they’ll be denied and can empathize and if your particularly cool at least say to them that you think certain laws are not fair and should change so your kid has all they deserve not just as a kid but as adults too.

      The rights that a person is denied when a bio parent is not named on their birth record is a medically accurate birth record for starters. Its something that we all have a right to, it is a vital record, does go to CDC and get used for health data and statistical purposes. This is right gets interrupted when its incomplete or not medically accurate – happens in all sorts of situations not just sperm donors, but those situations do leave them with a document that is useless from a medical standpoint which you have a good plan and work around for granted, with health histories and whatnot. But in terms of just pure rights to a truthful medical record, they are getting less than they deserve and could have if the information were forced on there like with guys not exempted as donors. Those guys have no right to hide out and if they do they are violating their kids rights. If mom just does not know or does not want to tell, the kid’s rights to have the info there exist still, with offspring of a donor they are specifically excluded in the UPA from the right to have their bio parent on their medical record. Also having the bio parents name on the certificate makes a person their kin who has a right to their record and the record of their relatives as well and vice versa. It means they can be found and do some finding, they’d have a right to the birth records of any other children that their bio father has because those vital records are relevant to their own health and define their identity in terms of establishing kinship to their other relatives. That is to say everyone has a right to identifying information and vital records of their kin because part of one’s identity is being a grandmother or a sister etc. When their bio parent is missing from their birth record that flow of information and the rights to records is undermined not just for the kid but for the entire family. There are work around and compensation say if you know the person donating to you so the kid grows up knowing that person and his relatives, but again their rights have been interfered with and historically there won’t be records tying them together as kin within that family. Ideally adoption would not amend the original records, they’d stay static so nobody’s rights to records would be messed with and then the adoption and name change which occur on a separate document anyway would be on a separate document. Leaving the adopted person legally recognized in the two families they all inevitably say they belong to.

      I reunite separated families so what is quite troubling to people in reunion is the lack of legal recognition of their kinship and the denial of benefits reserved for legal kin. Donor sibling groups of 100 or more on the DSR are not legally recognized as being part of the same family. This is obviously a public health issue when men with the most kids appear to have none and their kids with whatever health problems they have are all attributed to persons who were unable to reproduce. Siblings who are not tied by a common parent on their birth record don’t have the right to help foreign born siblings immigrate big deal with donor offspring. Don’t have the right to take time off work to care for sick relatives or attend their funerals. They can’t claim their siblings and other relatives as relative dependents if in their later years they take an ailing sibling in and care for them as siblings often do. They can’t claim a niece nephew or cousin as a relative dependent on taxes if they come to live with them while they are in college for a couple years. These simple normal benefits of kinship that are extended even to step relatives and in-laws, adopted or guardianships are not going to be granted to your kids and their relatives because their common parent is not listed on their birth record. There are starting to be attempts in the UK by donor offspring to remove the name of a medically inaccurate parent and possibly have some common binding info put on the certificate to tie them to siblings even when the father’s name is unknown or to be determined.

      I know its probably hard to think that far off into the future about what your kid might need after you and your spouse or partner are no longer even alive, but these laws treating your kid different are not fair to them in ways that likely never crossed your mind. Lots of people say well this or that won’t apply to my kid because we have a known donor or we have all this info or whatever but just be aware that even if your kid is going to navigate the obstacles no problem, its a real problem that they just don’t have the same identical rights as others and why not? How is that fair to them and the people they are related to outside their home? My focus is not on how people will feel about being denied the rights because that is super individual and you can’t guess, but we know they should have the same rights even if they never need to exercise them. Its offensive that they would have fewer rights because someone decided they probably don’t need those ones and won’t miss them.

      So I think its real helpful for people to know what laws might be treating their kids unfairly and at least be able to say to the kid that these things are not necessary side effects of their existence, they don’t have to loose certain rights as payback for getting to be born the laws could change. People sometimes think wanting things to be fair for donor offspring and their relatives means wishing they did not exist or means taking away a system that caused them to exist and that is just not true. They are just people and they deserve to be treated equally when they were born. There is so much of this loss of rights treated as existential debt they owe or something. They are here now can’t send them back its not fair for the info and rights and benefits to be there and withheld – its not like the world can’t treat donor offspring fairly its like the law just does not want to.

      Peace. Congratulations on the impending birth of your child you’ll be great mommas. My first boyfriend had two moms (and a dad somewhere) I only met the mom’s. No I did not know which was bio one was Mom, one was Mommy. He’s a very well adjusted good guy. He had rights to his paternal family cause of his records paternal siblings I have no idea if he keeps up with but his rights are there. If the moms were allowed to marry in the 80′s he would have been golden. good luck

  • Guest

    As an infertile adoptive Mom, I read this with interest. I have my ovaries but no uterus and considered surrogacy but didn’t want to do the hormones, IVF, etc. But, my bigger area of interest was some of your comments about the different feelings people conceived this way have (which are on a whole spectrum) and the way you were treated when you asked for pictures. Those two issues resonated with a lot of issues in the infant adoption community as well, and some of the identity/life story questions that adopted people work through, as well as some of the sunny advertising to and then later dismissive treatment of women that place infants for adoption. This was a fantastically written piece, sensitive to many sides of the issues but honest in highlighting them. No rose colored glasses. Thanks for sharing it, really.

  • Fuzzy ‘n Broken Mirror

    I’m mostly curious about how much money you received… for… um… educational purposes

    • Limsky

      I think they mean like egg cells not testicles

    • Jennifer Dziura

      $8,000 and then $10,000. I believe that a third time would have paid $12,000. The intended parents themselves pay more for donors known to be compliant and successful.

  • Elizabeth

    Thank you for writing this! I’m on an egg donor database, so this will give me plenty to think about should I get called.

  • Tara

    Consider yourself lucky that your body reacted so well to the lupron! I have suffered permanent, disabling, and life altering side effects from the Lupron injections I received more than ten years ago.

  • Randi

    Great article! I always wondered about what really happens with egg donations. So interesting!! Awesome Jen!

  • opiper

    There’s one emotionally challenging aspect of egg donation you didn’t mention: being rejected as a donor. In my twenties, I thought it would be a great way to help an infertile couple out and make some much-needed money. Unfortunately, I was turned away from clinic after clinic, with four of them rejecting me before I gave up trying.

    Being blonde with green eyes and an IQ over 135 who’s only physical “abnormalities” are flat feet and four nipples (the extra two are tiny and undeveloped), I’d been sure my DNA would be in demand. I guess I was wrong. None of the clinics ever explained to me why they wouldn’t take my eggs, even after I asked them, so to this day I haven’t a clue what made me so “unworthy.”

    All I know is that when I realized no one wanted my eggs, I did a 180 degree about face regarding my personal interest in having my own biological children. I’m 43 now and people are finally starting to realize that I’ve been serious for the last 15-20 years about not wanting to have children. They’ve assumed I would change my mind and get pregnant so I wouldn’t miss out on the miracle of creating a person with my DNA, but nothing has ever sounded so miserably scary to me.

    If no one wanted to use my eggs, why would I want to use them? I’m thankful I tried to donate because had I not, I might have used my “unworthy” eggs without knowing and created some kind of undesirable mutant-baby. I’m relieved to have saved the world from what I could have created. Wouldn’t you be?

    • Lena C

      Seems very strange that you were rejected without being told why… Most of the time it’s due to medical history (certain diseases that run in your family even though you yourself may not be affected), lack of medical history (if you were adopted or don’t have a health history on one of your parents) or alcohol/drug/tobacco use.

      This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have your own children (in my opinion), just that others weren’t willing to assume the risks of a particular genetic history, lack of genetic history or alcohol/drug/tobacco use.

    • opiper

      My guess for the reason I was denied as a donor is that I don’t wear a size zero. The clinics explained they had no legal obligation to justify their decisions to reject me, but honestly, who would want to live with the possibility that their child might not be perfectly thin (especially if they had a daughter)? Because what a child eats and how much exercise they get isn’t as influential as their genetic code, right? Well, that’s the exact opposite of what I’m told all the time about myself. I’m told that I CHOOSE to be fat and that my genetics have little to nothing to do with my unfortunate state. I just need to be more considerate of the aesthetic needs of others (especially men) and exhibit some self-control. What I’ve come away from this life experience with is the understanding that it’s far more desirable to be thin than it is to be intelligent – especially if you’re female. Sad, but true.

      Regarding alcohol/drug/tobacco use, however, can you seriously tell me that most children aren’t born to women with histories of consuming all three things? From what I remember, almost all of the women in my mother’s generation smoked and drank – even through their pregnancies. The entire Baby Boom generation was born to mothers that smoke and drank. And drug use is a subjective qualifier, at best. I assume you’re speaking of the drugs our federal government has recently deemed “illicit.” Never mind that both heroin and cocaine were in multitudes of over-the-counter products 100 years ago. Their presence and popular use didn’t stop women from having healthy babies. And never mind that pharmaceuticals like Prozac and Oxycontin are dispensed like candy to this current generation yet aren’t considered “drugs” like the demonized cannabis plant. But really, is USE the problem that concerns you, or is it ABUSE?

      More puzzling though, is if it was the sperm donor who attended keg parties and smoked pot in college, would they be rejected as well? Being a sperm donor has always been a way for transient alcoholics to make an easy buck, hasn’t it? It seems that the current fad of putting undue pressure on the mother to be perfect applies not just to the womb but also to the gamete – she’s expected to be pure her entire life in order to be a suitable egg provider. That sounds completely sexist and is honestly ludicrous.

      I’d guesstimate that at least 95% of all parents in the US have a history of alcohol/drug/tobacco use and it doesn’t affect their decision to have children or the outcome of that decision. If people really want “perfect” children, they should stop having them the good-old-fashioned way and rely entirely upon the quasi-eugenic technology of gamete donation. I’m sure many parents would love the ability to pick and choose the traits they prefer for their offspring.

      The irony of it all may be that because I refused to use my eggs to make a child of my own, I gave my husband the option of finding a donor egg to fertilize with his sperm that I could gestate until birth. He passed. We’ve found it far more fulfilling to provide a loving home to children already living. I guess we just care enough about kids to help the ones that exist instead of obsessing on making new ones from scratch. I’d take a hundred “imperfect” children and love them unconditionally before I’d ever try to genetically engineer a “perfect” one.

      In closing, I don’t understand why you think its reasonable that others reject the risks associated with my DNA (whatever they may be), but that it’s unreasonable that I reject them as well. Why should I be the idiot that assumes risks that others wisely walked away from? It’s seems highly logical that there’s a REASON no one wants to roll the dice with my DNA – there’s not enough positive risk to outweigh the negative risk for ANYONE, not just other people. I’d be distraught beyond repair if it was apparent my child was “imperfect” because of me. As a foster and adoptive parent, it’s not my genetics that made the child, so I’m absolved of any guilt regarding their imperfections. I’m a big believer that its the environment the child is reared in more so than their genetics that make them who they become. Still, with that being said, I’m no more obligated to risk making an undesirable baby than the donation recipients are.

    • Jennifer Dziura

      “Seems very strange that you were rejected without being told why” — in most cases I’ve heard, the potential donor was not told why. In one case, a friend of mine suspected that it was that she had gotten chocolate on her application form. In another case, a woman was told by the psychologist that a family history of suicide disqualified her (so she at least got a reason).

      When I was working for the agency, I once had a candidate come in who was flagged by a personality test as a psychopath. Basically, the psych test is given on computer and yields a complicated page of results that can only be read by a professional, UNLESS the results are so extreme — as in this case — that the computer basically puts a big red flag on the front page. My instructions, should this happen, were to cut the interview a bit short and tell her, as we tell everyone, that she’ll hear from the agency later. In her followup call, she’d be told she didn’t make it, but not that she is possibly a psychopath. I can’t vouch for the accuracy of this test or the suitability of this screening method. Just sharing one agency’s practices.

  • jess

    I’ve donated a few times and am about to start my final donation cycle this spring, so this was a very interesting read. (I’ve never asked the agency staff how the matching up works, for example.)

    I myself have had only positive experiences donating — I usually work with the same staff at the agency so they’re familiar with me and always very considerate and helpful. Obviously there’s no way to know about the long-term effects, but as far as I’m concerned three weeks of slight inconvenience to my everyday life in exchange for what I make in about four months at my day job is worth it.

    That said, everyone who donates has different feelings about it. I’m a firm follower of the “nurture over nature” school of thought, and I’ve never felt a terribly strong connection to most of my biological family, so I don’t feel any sense of connection to any potential children that might be out there as a result of my donations. I recognize that I’m helping people out, but frankly, money accounts for about 95% of my motivation.

    There’s one thing you wrote that kind of irked me, about requesting baby pictures and not getting any response from the agency. I do think they should have replied to you, if only to say “We can’t release those photos to you”, but the agency I used made it clear to me (in writing and verbally) that I wouldn’t be given any information about any children my eggs produced, or the families that used them. (Maybe your agency didn’t?) I didn’t get any first names or a state of residence, but to be perfectly honest — and perhaps this sounds callous — it didn’t really matter to me. The agency I used is a reputable one and I trust them not to give eggs to assholes.

    Speaking of which, and not that this needs to be said, but your ex-boyfriend is a dick.

    • Jennifer Dziura

      Oh, to be clear, the agency did get back to me to tell me that the parents said no. And yes, I was told by the agency that I wouldn’t be given any information about children produced from my eggs, but since I had retired from egg donation and the parents were asking me to come out of retirement — basically, they wanted my eggs and I wasn’t even offering them — I figured I had some bargaining chips. Hence my request.

  • Hurf

    I considered doing this for the money once years back when I was broke as hell, for about five seconds until I found out about the process of it. Eek. And maybe this is just me, but I don’t understand how there could be emotional connection to a child produced in this way (Of course I have the emotional complexity of an android so I’m not a good judge of other people’s feelings) Sure, your DNA is in that egg, but it’s just an egg when you part with it, then fertilized and carried by someone else. Not even like carrying a child for 9 months and then giving it up for adoption, they’re be way more of a connection there. Personally I can’t see that as “It’s my child!”–technically yes, in terms of genes, but in every other sense of what a child is? A little human being you raise and take care of and teach and all that? Not really.

    Can totally understand some of the weirdity that might go along with it in terms of medical records, potential family relations, etc though. The thought of a boyfriend/ex saying “I can’t believe you had a child with someone other than me” is….wut? It’s not like you went out and boned someone else.

    But kids actually get angry when they found out they came from a donated egg/sperm? “How could my father sell me?” really? I’d say your father/mother were the people who raised you and took care of you, and perhaps they really really wanted a child but were incapable of having one for whatever reason so they needed some help. What’s wrong with that? Don’t fault the donor for allowing your parents to have you. It’s not like these kids can even say “Mom/Dad didn’t want me!” like an adopted kid could (and I have a few of those in my extended family)

    Complicated issue to be sure.

  • Jennifer Dziura

    Hey, in case anyone’s using this post to help make a decision, it’s worth posting this almost-worst-case scenario here: http://www.xojane.com/it-happened-to-me/i-donated-eggs-and-the-process-almost-killed-me