The Gay Dad's Guide to Egg Donation
Dr. Saira Jhutty
The path to parenthood isn’t necessarily the same for everyone, but the desire to have a family is the same. For many male couples, egg donation and gestational surrogacy, serve as the missing pieces to help achieve the dream of a family. The process can be overwhelming. Hopefully this guide will help you navigate the process and ease some of the worries.
What happens pre-match
The first step in the process is to find and match with an egg donor. Before starting your search, make a list of what is important to you. Is it important that she has a love for music or the outdoors? That she comes from the same ethnic background, or shares the same religion? Although a list of criteria is nice to have, you may not get 100% of what is on your list and that is okay. Afterall, it’s ultimately the time you spend as parents that will shape who this little human becomes.
Another aspect to consider when choosing your donor is age. Ideally, you want your donor to be under 34 years old. This is because women under 34 respond more favorably to stimulation medication and are more apt to produce higher quality and a higher number of eggs.
Some things to think about before the retrieval process
Once you are matched with a donor, she will go through medical and psychological screening. At this point, there is still a chance that the donor will not meet medical or psychological expectations and be disqualified to donate. This can happen for many reasons. For example, during medical screening it may turn out that her AMH levels are too low. A psychological screen may show a history of mental health issues in her family. This can be discouraging when you have spent so much time and energy finding the right donor. But remember, this is not going to be an easy process and there will be many bumps along the road. If your donor does not pass her screenings, take some time off and away from searching and when you are ready, start your search again.
By using an egg donor and your own sperm, same sex male couples have the ability to have a biologically related child. If you are in a relationship, you have the option of deciding whose sperm will be used to fertilize the eggs. Either you can pick one parent to fertilize all the eggs or eggs can be split in half and each half can be fertilized by each father. Another option is to mix your sperm and let fate decide. When mixing sperm, some dad’s have decided to use DNA testing, after their child is born, to determine the genetic father. And for some, after the baby arrives, both parents decide that it doesn’t matter, as they both feel and know that they are the father, regardless of DNA.
Make sure you and your partner both agree before starting the process whose sperm will be used, which embryos will be transferred, and how many will be transferred. For some couples the decision is easy. For others, both want to have a genetic child. In this case, if available, you may decide to transfer one embryo from each father. At the end of the day, your goal is a healthy baby. So keep that in mind as you make your decision.
Legal considerations when using an egg donor
Both you and your donor will have separate attorneys. When selecting an attorney, ensure they are well versed in third party reproduction (if you work with Cofertility, we can help you find a great attorney). The legal document will be drafted indicating that the donor is waiving all parental rights and the child/children born from the donated eggs will be your children. Once legal clearance is granted, your donor will begin medication to start her egg retrieval process.
Depending on the state your children are born in, you can have the option of having both father’s on the birth certificate.
The retrieval cycle: it’s go time
Once your donor is ready for the retrieval, she will begin taking fertility medication for two weeks in the form of injections to stimulate the growth of her eggs. Typically, a woman grows 15 eggs per month. Only one of those eggs is usually released and the rest are reabsorbed back into the body. The goal of egg retrieval is for all the eggs to grow and be retrieved.
During the cycle, your donor will be monitored by the IVF clinic to ensure the medications are working and that she is appropriately responding to the medication. When her eggs are ready to be retrieved she will be given a “trigger shot” and eggs will be retrieved within 36 hours of the shot. The retrieval is done under light anesthesia and may take approximately 1 hour.
The eggs will be fertilized with one or both partner’s sperm to create embryos. You have the option of transferring fresh or frozen embryos to your gestational carrier .
Relationships and costs: the nitty gritty
Every relationship is unique and depends on the desires of all parties involved: you, the donor, and any future donor-conceived children. Truly, your relationship options range on a broad spectrum that can be determined in your legal agreement with the donor.
While the fertility industry has historically relied on secrecy and anonymity, more research shows the benefits of being open with children about their donor-conceived roots and any available donor characteristics. As such, we encourage you to be open with your own children about their conception story
Since most insurance plans do not cover IVF, you will be responsible for all costs involved with the retrieval of donor eggs. This includes both attorney fees, agency fees, all screenings such as medical and psychological, IVF medication and procedures, and any potential complications that may occur during or after the retrieval. You may also be storing remaining embryos, which also comes with a cost.
Summing it all up
For same sex male couples, what once seemed to be impossible, is now possible. A same sex male couple now has the ability to have a child of their own. They have the ability to be in the delivery room, cut the umbilical cord and immediately start the parent child relationship. Thanks to IVF and egg donation, more and more people now have the opportunity to finally be parents. We’re excited to guide you through the process and navigate it together.
Dr. Saira Jhutty
Dr. Jhutty is a Medical Advisor at Cofertility and psychologist specializing in fertility. She obtained her PhD from California School of Professional Practice. She has spent the last 11 years focusing on assisting people build their families using third-party reproduction.
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