After we finished exploring an embryo donation to the first Jewish lesbian couple to contact us we were surprised to receive many more requests from other such couples.
When we listed our embryos for donation we expected it to take months to find even one Jewish lesbian. Within weeks we had heard from eight potential recipients.
We wrote back to one lesbian couple. They had written to say they were Jewish, experiencing infertility and not interested in receiving the embryos for a year or so. We asked them some basic questions: why did they want to wait a year to receive the embryos? What region of the US did they call home? They never wrote back.
Contacting someone asking for their embryos should not be a casual act. All they needed to do was write a one-line email saying they were not ready to receive embryos after all. As it was, their flaking out meant we would never consider them again.
Another couple wrote who were in their late forties/early fifties. Both were also ill. My own parents were in their mid-40's when I was born. As a child I did the math and realized my parents were old enough to be my grandparents. After that I always worried they would die while I was still young. This couple (and several others who contacted us) was even older than my parents had been, and sick. I did not want to give the embryos to a couple which might leave their children orphans before long.
We wrote back to another couple who were in their mid-forties. We learned that they had a lot of "dyke drama" going on over custody of a child one partner had with her ex. It sounded messy.
We also heard from Jewish lesbians who were not currently in a relationship. Being a single parent is extremely hard. We wanted to give our gift to two women, partners who could help each other, not just one.
A single lesbian wrote to us asking for the embryos and addressing just this concern. She said she was "looking for a co-parenting arrangement" with the donors. An open embryo donation can take any shape the parties prefer. But if we wanted to parent our remaining embryos we would give birth to them ourselves! Our family is complete. The whole point of giving away the embryos is to give someone else the chance to parent.
Several other lesbian couples wrote who were not Jewish. One or two of them seemed like good candidates, if only they had been Jewish. We explained to them that we were prioritizing a donation to a Jewish couple but we could keep their information in case we did not find what we were looking for.
One of these non-Jewish lesbians wrote back thanking me but saying she did not want to be picked unless she was the "perfect recipient". Since I did not want to pick a non-Jewish recipient unless I could not find a Jewish family, this woman felt she could not measure up and removed herself from consideration.
I wondered about her idea that there is a "perfect recipient". Most of the lesbian couples who had contacted me had some positive aspect to their families. We considered each request carefully, even if we ultimately rejected those we had received to date. Was there a "perfect recipient" out there? We kept our minds open to all possibilities while we waited to find out.