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Thinking about Contact with Your Anonymous Donor?
a blog by Amy Demma, Prospective Families, August 18, 2010
Recently, I was contacted by a recipient mom who needed to connect with her otherwise anonymous egg donor. She and her husband were blessed with a successful egg donation cycle and a beautiful baby girl, and her pediatrician had a few questions regarding the donor’s history of allergies.
In my many years working with recipient parents of donor eggs, I have only been contacted by previous clients for medical reasons a handful of times. I would like to think that no other such medical needs have arisen for my past clients, but I am wondering if it is more likely that such contact is either thought to be impossible, inappropriate or simply too emotionally difficult.
Concerns about Future Contact
In my experience, when most prospective parents are contemplating family building through egg donation, they are quite concerned about future contact. Top of mind is the worry that the donor will, at some point, gain access to their identity.
My response to this concern is to encourage prospective parents to work with a reputable agency — ideally one that the recipient’s clinical team is familiar with and has recommended — and ask about administrative efforts made to preserve anonymity between both parties.
I further suggest that an agency’s contract with the recipient parent should address preserving anonymity and that the donor contract should explicitly state that neither party will pursue (via the internet, e.g.) identifying the other.
(I actually believe a donor is at greater risk of exposure given the degree of information the recipient will receive on her and the opportunities for identification the internet offers…but that’s a different blog.)
Contact with Donor for Medical Reasons
What if a medical need should arise? Most of the clinics I work with and most of my colleagues will not proceed with an egg donation if the donor declines contact for medical necessity. In fact, of the hundreds of donors I have met, I cannot think of one who was uncomfortable with remaining available for such contact, provided I could assure her that a third party would facilitate the request for further medical history.
I explain to both donors and recipients that should a medical issue present, the agency can and should be available to manage the exchange of information without the other party feeling compromised or imposed upon. Also important is that the agency remain committed to providing this service long after the egg donation has completed.
Donor Contact for Social Reasons
How about contact with your otherwise anonymous donor for social reasons? Perhaps you are anticipating that your child might wonder about the donor in later years, and you might want, in a manner that is comfortable for your family, to connect with the donor.
Maybe you are not certain at the time of the donation whether you would want contact for purely social reasons. Or, maybe you are sure that you absolutely will not pursue contact. My mental health colleagues tell me that any such scenario is acceptable if it makes sense for your family.
While sharing with the child the true story of his/her conception is strongly encouraged by the mental health community, deciding whether or not you intend to arrange for communication with the donor is a personal matter. It's a matter that only needs to be addressed with your agency to be sure that the donor you are considering is of shared mind and to confirm that the agency will be available to assist with the contact, should you desire. After that, your attorney simply needs to express your intentions in the egg donor contract so that your otherwise anonymous donor is aware that you very well may be interested in connecting as your child and your family matures.
Talk about donor contact with your agency, inform your attorney of your expectations and be sure to be in contact with a mental health provider who specializes in family building through collaborative reproduction. If you have the right team of professionals in place, any contact you may need or desire with your anonymous donor should be manageable in a way that makes the most sense for your family.