So my first back story post brought you up-to-speed on how we ended up using donor eggs and donor sperm. (Well, the sperm was obvious before that, I hope :)). How did we select our donors? It’s a very personal decision and the factors you can consider are endless. For some people, especially when using their own eggs, they want a donor who looks like or just ‘is’ like their partner. Others opt to think of it as thoroughbred design and engineering an ideal human for our society or their personal lifestyle. There is no wrong or right, however, for us, we had some clear factors that drove our choices. In relative order of importance:
1. Identity Release
Non-negotiable was the ability for our child to obtain the identity of their donor at age 18. After watching dear friends who’d been adopted struggle with finding their birth parents, I couldn’t consider doing it any other way. While this is different – our child will not struggle with some of the typical questions of an adoptee – in our case, since we did not use our eggs, they will have to deal with not being genetically related to anyone they know. That has got to feel weird at some point in life. We are not threatened by our donors at all. In fact, we embrace them. We know their intention and willingness to be found was true the day they signed up for this. While that can change – we, at a minimum – want our child to know we did our best to ensure they could have this information if they wanted it, and we did not want to deny them the opportunity to know more about themselves.
2. If we met our donors, we wanted to enjoy their company.
We had a counseling session at our fertility clinic which was required (for $300) for anyone using a donor, egg or sperm. The nugget we took away was “pick someone you think you’d really like as a person – if you met them for coffee you’d have fun together.” While this may seem trivial, consider that “nature” is part of all of us. Our kid could have personalities that align to their genetic mom or pop, and we figured we’d pick people who sounded like “our people,” – people we’d enjoy hanging out with. Because we plan to hang out with our little one a lot! This was a ‘vibe’ thing – hard to explain, but similar to reading online profiles, you get a vibe of whether you’d likely dig a person or not.
While neither of us are Einsteins, we are both pretty smart and feel that has been a factor in our success in this lifetime. We each went to college, were gifted with common sense and try to stay current with the happenings of the world in our own ways. For our donor, we looked at their education, read their essays (looking for common sense, ability to spell, write, etc.) and general drive and motivation. Neither is a brainiac, because the donors in those camps seemed to lack #2 above – they were just not our people (i.e., “I’m donating sperm because I am pragmatic. I need money and it doesn’t take a lot of time.” – not our people.). Both are educated and pursuing graduate degrees, could write well and express themselves openly. (I think it turned out that we would not qualify to be our own donors 🙂
4. Guilty Pleasures
Ok, so like anyone, we had a few guilty pleasures. We were not after a donor that “looked like me” in any way. Jill really did not want a blonde. Just didn’t, so we nixed the blondes. I wanted height, and a general propensity toward being thin (just a little core issue…obesity…). Ethnicity was in play, but not critical – we did look for French (Jill 100%), and Polish/German/Romainia (me). We both wanted brown eyes, ideally. We are both brown-eyed girls and somehow looking into blue eyes seemed weird. Plus, with so many sperm donors, it helped us narrow the pool. We loved our egg donor for her personality, her likes and interests, her altruistic values… She did happen to have light brown hair and green eyes, but is 5’10 and 150 lbs., she loves The Catcher in the Rye and her favorite band is Radiohead. Our people. We loved our sperm donor because he was artistic, musical, smart, a little emo and had drive, passion and interests…and he was undeniably adorable – brown hair and brown eyes, 5’11 and 145 lbs. Sounded like a good kid and someone we’d think was a good person to have in the world.
5. A Few Medical Requirements
We stuck with positive blood types (I’m O+, Jill is O-) to help with any Rh factor issues. We also needed “CMV Negative” – and again, with something like 50% of adults testing positive by age 40, this helped us narrow the overwhelming field of sperm donors considerably. All donors are screened for medical issues and we were fortunate the last family that used our egg donor had shelled out the $1500 for hardcore genetic testing, so we had a lot of extra assurances with her. Both had far cleaner family health histories than I do – so again – I wouldn’t have qualified to be my own egg donor, on paper anyhow. Oh, and no cat allergies. Jill said if it came down to our kid or the cats, it would be “a difficult decision.” Oy, best to avoid that 🙂 Last, we wanted proven pregnancies from both donors, and for our egg donor, we wanted one who had consistently provided enough eggs to have some embryos to freeze.
That was really it. While some of the banks let you get granular into things like “cat or dog person,” “major/minor in college,” or “astrological sign,” – we started with the above and narrowed from there. As I said before, our egg donor pool was 60 or so, of which probably 20 were vetoed without further review, another 20 were not going to be available in our timeframe, and in the end, we had 10 that we felt good about. We feel we got the perfect donor in the end! For our sperm donor, there were thousands to pick from, using our criteria, we instantly narrowed it down to about 30 – Jill reviewed those and picked 4 favorites – and one of those 4 happened to be the first one I was drawn to when I looked. So he was our man. More to come on our donors!