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Amanda Troxler has been practicing family formation law since 2013, representing hundreds of intended parents, gestational carriers, and egg donors each year, including some of the donors within Cofertility’s Split program. 

Additionally, Amanda Troxler is an egg donor herself! 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. Here’s what she has to share. 

Lauren: Before we get into your own experience with donation, I want to hear more about your own upbringing and how it relates to donor 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.  Of course, this was before egg donation and gestational surrogacy was available to people generally. The very first child born as a result of egg donation in the United States was born in 1984. I was born in 1986.  

I didn’t meet my biological mother until I was 19. Growing up, my father told me that I could reach out to my 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. I understand his rationale now in the context of the legal and cultural landscape of the 80s - even though it frustrated me at the time. Part of why I joined the field was 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: After this experience you went on to be an egg donor yourself. Can you tell us more about your decision to become an egg donor? 

A:  Initially, my interest was helping LGBTQ+ families grow in ways that would be legally stable, in part because of the legal instability in my own childhood, and the legal insecurities that were inherent in how my father chose to become a parent in the 1980s.  As I continued to practice fertility law, I became increasingly sensitive to the obstacles that heterosexual couples and single people also experience in growing their families. 

I’ve donated eggs several times. Two of those donations were to a gay couple who now have two sons. My family and I have met them and maintain a relationship with them to this day.  My relationship with the two boys is very different from the relationship I have with my own son (who I conceived with the intention of parenting).  Nonetheless, I care deeply about my donor offspring and their wellbeing. 

L: How did you decide on your disclosure status and how would you approach that today if you were doing it again? 

My preference was always to be a known donor. I was also open to meeting and forming a relationship with the intended parents (IPs). However, at the time I was donating, agencies were pushing donors and intended parents toward anonymity. 

Knowing what I know now, I wouldn’t have donated anonymously. From my own experience and from the stories of donor conceived people, I understand how knowing a biological relative can be a critical part of your identity formation. 

If you're considering egg donation, you should absolutely feel empowered to consider and voice your own disclosure preferences, particularly if you’re working with an organization like Cofertility that prides itself on mutual matches.

L: What are you seeing from a legal or regulatory perspective around egg donation? 

A: In recent years there has also been a significant shift away from anonymous donations. As I alluded to with my own experience, ten years ago almost all donations were anonymous. Now, advances in DNA testing have made it easier for donors and donor conceived people  to become identified and connected. 

In line with that, some states, like Colorado most recently, are creating protections for donor conceived people, which include access to information about the donor.  I testified in front of the Colorado State Senate in support of that bill.

If you’re considering egg donation today, it’s important to be open to the possibility that a donor conceived person may reach out to you down the line, regardless of the disclosure status that you establish today. 

L: While many of our Split members do not have children today, they may in the future (maybe even with the support of their eggs on ice!). How do you talk to your own child about the fact that you were an egg donor? 

A: When I’m working with intended parents, I always recommend that they are open and honest and that they start the conversation early. As the donor, I think these same principles hold true. If the eggs that you donate lead to the conception of a child, that individual will be biologically related to any children that you may have in the future. 

Personally, I've found that children’s books about egg donation can be a helpful way to start a conversation. Admittedly, my son is still young, but sharing the story also gets me more comfortable talking about it.  While my son is too young to understand the full scope of the situation, he has met his biological half siblings. I’m excited to give him the full picture someday soon. 

L: How does your history with egg donation  impact the way you conduct your practice? 

A: In general, I approach fertility law with a collaborative, rather than a contentious, mindset.

I believe that it's important to consider the needs and well-being of my clients, whether they’re donors or intended parents, alongside the needs of the donor conceived person who will be brought into the world as a result of the donation. For example, while I do draft undisclosed agreements, I always consider the potential implications for the child and ensure that all parties are fully informed and aware of their options, as well as the inevitability of disclosure.

I’m also willing to facilitate mutually agreed contact between former clients and their donors.

L: What are you most excited about when you think about the future of fertility care and third party reproduction?

A: I'm excited to see a shift towards greater transparency and openness in the overall fertility field. Women are starting to have conversations about fertility at a much younger age and there is more public discourse around infertility and family building. Our fertility does not define us as individuals, and I love that as a society we’re becoming more open-minded about the different ways that families can be built. 

“I'm excited to see a shift towards greater transparency and openness in the field of fertility.”

What advice would you offer a friend who might be considering egg freezing or egg donation? 

Egg freezing is an incredibly helpful option for young women who want to preserve their fertility and take the pressure off of trying to conceive at a certain age. It can be expensive (which is one of the many reasons why I love Cofertility’s model) and it is not a guarantee. But neither of those points change the fact that it can be an option that helps women who experience infertility down the line.  

While I didn’t freeze my eggs, my husband and I actually froze embryos when I was 30. We had our first son without using those embryos but I would like to try to conceive again later in life. I feel at peace knowing I have those on ice.