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Why It Is Harder to Choose an Egg Donor When Faced With Secondary Infertility

A blog by Gail Sexton Anderson, Ed.M., Founder, Donor Concierge, March 17, 2015

Secondary infertility is often dismissed as unimportant. Parents who are grieving the lack of a second child often hear, "Shouldn’t you be grateful for the one child you already have?" For those who experience difficulty conceiving after your first child when you have always longed to have at least two or more children, you know it can be a painful and depressing journey. Infertile couples with no children get more understanding and support than those who have one child but then can’t achieve a second pregnancy on their own.

In my 20 years of doing this work, I have found that parents who have a child or children are some of the hardest to match with an egg donor. Expectations are much higher to have the egg donor look like the mother AND the existing child. Once you have a child that you love with all of your heart it’s hard to imagine that any other child can ever be as wonderful as the first. This is true regardless of biological connection.

I usually say that time helps parents adjust and mourn the loss of their biological child helping them to get over the pain of not having a biological connection. With a diagnosis of secondary infertility, I’m not sure that is always the case. Sometimes I think the older their biological child, the harder it is to choose an egg donor. I have done many egg donor searches for parents who are hoping for a second, and most are thrilled with the selection of donors I present. But for some parents there is a lot of anger, which is part of a grieving process that causes them to find fault in each donor presented. They simply can’t see themselves or their existing child in any of the donors.

For parents who are looking to add to their families and need the aid of an egg donor they may need additional counseling to help them to grieve not only the loss of a biological connection to themselves, but the biological connection to their first born.

But remember, we all know siblings from the same parents who don’t look or act alike yet get along beautifully, we also know siblings from the same genetic parents who look very much alike but can’t tolerate each other for two minutes. There are dozens of ways to form families and any combination can be wonderful.

Whenever an intended parent chooses an egg donor, I encourage them to leave themselves behind and not look for a replacement ‘you’. Look to the egg donor for who she is and the positive qualities she has to offer. My best advice is always to look for a donor who you like and who looks like she could fit into your family. No matter whose genetics are blended to make a child, there is no way of predicting outcome. Our children will be different from our fantasies, and we will love them for who they are, and even for who they are not.


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