Amanda Troxler has been practicing family formation law since 2013, representing hundreds of intended parents, gestational carriers, and donors a year, including some of the donors within Cofertility’s Split program.
She is also an egg donor and was raised by a single gay dad. Between her personal and professional experiences, she has an invaluable amount of perspective to offer. We were delighted to chat with Amanda about her own journey, and her view on the evolving fertility and family building landscape.
Lauren: We talk to intended parents a lot about the importance of sharing their child’s conception story. Can you start by sharing more about your experience learning about your own conception?
Amanda: I definitely draw parallels between my own upbringing and donor conception. My biological parents are both gay. They met in West Hollywood in the 1980s and my father was interested in having a child.
I don’t remember all the specifics of learning my conception story, but my dad was open and transparent. He answered my questions and was happy for me to know my biological mother’s name and to share photographs. As I grew older, I was frustrated that I had a biological connection to someone who lived in close proximity, but who I never met.
Growing up, my father told me that I could reach out to my biological mother when I was 18. His reasoning was centered on the fact that there weren’t strong parentage laws in the 80s, particularly for single gay men. Part of why I joined the field is to strengthen parental laws so that we can invite donors into the families without worrying about whether it’ll create legal insecurity for the child.
L: Do you know of any siblings from your biological mother?
A: When I was nine years old, I received a letter from a genetic aunt saying that I had a sister. I don’t know how many nine year olds have “secret siblings,” but it got me excited, and nervous. Of course, I couldn’t do much with the information. If it was today and I could have googled her, I imagine I’d have found her right away.
L: Did you eventually connect with your biological mother?
A: We met when I was 19 (so about 17 years ago!). We first started to exchange emails and then had phone calls. I met my biological mother and sister in person during winter break when I was in college. I have developed a relationship with both of them and they both attended my wedding! I don’t consider my relationship with my mother to be a parent/child relationship, since she didn’t raise me, but I’m really grateful for our connection. It also helped me make sense of personality traits that I never felt I had in common with my father: such as my desire for adventure and my boldness.
L: After this experience, you went on to become an egg donor yourself. What inspired you to do this?
A: I deeply believe in providing family building options for gay people, single people, and people with fertility struggles. I believe in helping others when we can, and this was one way that I could help. I’ve donated several times. One couple I donated to has two young boys who my own son has now met. It’s been amazing to maintain a relationship with them because I get to see them develop. There are parts of their personalities that remind me of myself. At the same time, they are their own people– wholly unique and different from anyone else.
L: What relationship did you want to have with the intended parents?
A: My preference was always to be a known donor. However, agencies at the time were pushing anonymity on both donors and IPs. Many IPs were led to believe that an anonymous relationship was preferable for both parties and most deferred to that. If I knew what I know now, I wouldn’t have donated anonymously. It’s taken some time, but I think we’re getting to a point where both parties are reconsidering what’s acceptable and what’s best for the donor conceived person.
I like the saying “love is not like a pie.” Just as parents can love more than one child, donor conceived people can form meaningful relationships with genetic relatives and love their parents. Also, as a parent, you can never have too many people care about your child.
As a parent, you can never have too many people care about your child.
L: Do you have any advice for parents who might be thinking about having a similar conversation with their child some day?
A: Be open and honest. Start early and tell your story often. Keeping secrets implies that you believe your child’s conception is worth hiding. There is nothing shameful about donor conception and you should make this clear to your child from the get go.
Lauren Makler is the Co-Founder and CEO of Cofertility, a human-first fertility ecosystem rewriting the egg freezing and egg donation experience. Previously, as an early Uber employee, Lauren founded Uber Health, a product that enables healthcare organizations to leverage Uber’s massive driver network in improving healthcare outcomes through patient transportation and healthcare delivery. Under her leadership, the business helped millions of patients get to the care they needed. Prior to that, Lauren spent the early years at Uber launching the core business throughout the east coast and led the company’s first experiment in healthcare, national on demand flu shot campaigns. After a rare disease diagnosis, Lauren’s fertility journey led her to believe that everyone should have the opportunity to freeze their eggs–and that there should be better access to egg donors. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their miracle baby girl. She was named one of Fast Company's Most Creative People in Business in 2023 and recieved her BA from Northeastern University in Organizational Communication.
View all articles