The High-Paid Donor and Baby Making Success

The High-Paid Donor and Baby Making Success

In the January 25th, 2009 edition of The Boston Herald, a side-bar to two articles for which I was interviewed discussed a West Coast couple advertising at MIT for an egg donor, offering prospective candidates $35,000.00 in compensation. I am not sure where to begin my commentary on this couple’s determination to recruit a “genius Asian egg donor” with the promise of compensation that far exceeds (by $25,000.00) industry standards, but I can share that I am quite familiar with such practices.

From time-to-time, I receive calls from prospective parents intending to offer exorbitant compensation for what they view as “superior donors”…I decline each and every one of these requests for services but not before mentioning that neither where a donor matriculates (e.g.) nor her grade point average are indicative of her fertility and that an MIT student is no more likely to bring any couple to family building success than a donor with less “pedigree”. In the Herald side-bar article the would-be recipient parents admit to “setting the bar high”….but I am not sure what bar they are referring to as nothing in their approach to donor identification (at least as they have shared such in the article) is an intelligent approach to maximizing their chances of becoming parents.

Donors, according to both the FDA as well as the American Society of Reproductive Medicine are to be selected based on their health and fertility, first. Couples who approach donor selection with an “I can buy superior eggs by offering exorbitant compensation ” mentality and the agencies and clinics that accommodate such donor pursuits are not only operating outside of agreed upon ethical practices but are perpetuating the false premise that bigger dollars buys baby making success. Time and time again, I have seen prospective recipient parents invest dear resources: time, energy, emotion, finances pursuing a donor based on characteristics other than those related to fertility. Many of those very same recipients come back to me, after experiencing disappointment, having re-prioritized their donor search and with a renewed focus on their core goal, becoming parents.

I hear, I understand and I agree that for many recipients, donor identification is about moving forward with a candidate with whom the recipient feels a connection. Recipient mothers often express a sense of loss that those attributes they value in themselves will not necessarily be “passed on” to their child and so finding a donor that also shares in certain characteristics seems like a best plan…it might be, unless that smart, talented, accomplished donor offers a low egg production or poor quality embryos. To the extent that a donor can be identified with proven fertility (either through previous donations or perhaps the donor is, herself, a mother), I urge my clients to embrace that candidate and to feel confident that environment and nurture will yield much in the development of a child (and likely have had much influence on the apparent super-star donor) while genetics are just such a risky gamble.

Originally prepared by Amy Demma, Esq for Prospective Families

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