Friday, January 12, 2007


An interesting couple had contacted me about the embryos. Their positive attitude about open embryo donation intrigued me. I was really hoping for a Jewish family for these embryos, so I asked them lots of hard, personal questions right off the bat. It was only our third email exchange and already I was writing to them about their jobs and whether or not their doctor thought they could get pregnant. In a way, I was looking for an excuse to turn them down so I could keep looking for a family whose culture matched my own.

As requested, they sent me pictures of themselves. What I saw was a well-matched, happy young couple. The dark-haired woman looked like me around the eyes and in her general facial structure. She could easily be taken for one of my relatives. Her partner did not resemble me or my children at all.

From their body language they appeared to be very much in love. They looked right for each other and they seemed to be sweet, decent people.

Here is what they said:

The doctor explained that if we were a heterosexual couple it would be possible for Erin to get pregnant, it just might take years. Since we do not have the luxury of free sperm, it would be very time consuming and financially draining. She is a perfect candidate for embryo donation.

For myself: with PCOS, it could be possible for me to get pregnant but miscarriage is highly possible and this process could also take a lot of time and money.

Financially, it was going to be 24,000$ minimum for us to use my
eggs and with PCOS we were not even sure it was going to be possible. With embryo donation it will cost around 6-8000$ and we would like to have more than one child. We just decided that financially, time wise (we have both missed a lot of work for appointments etc ) and emotionally this was our best option. This child will not have a biological link to either of us, but we will raise it TOGETHER and it will be ours...When we were going through all our options, that’s exactly what I said, “I don’t have to have to have [our own] biological child, what is important to me is that we have a healthy baby and we raise it together”.

That’s when our decision was made. Our doctor told us here the embryo donation is anonymous and we would more than likely get singletons. We would implant two different embryos from two different donors. We would be put on a list and there was not a timetable given. Our preference would be to have biological siblings or have the ability for our children to make contact with biological family.

With regard to the sperm donor being an anonymous donor, we would love to have some information regarding medical and personal information that the sperm bank typically provides. The important aspect for us is that the child(ren) have the opportunity to contact other members of their biological family. We think it is important for them to understand where they came from, and although we are not Jewish, we are happy to discuss and share their heritage with them.

Drat! They didn't mind the anonymous sperm donor. He may never agree to meet children he helped create but he does have a lengthy family health history and a great essay to share with children conceived with his DNA. I was growing more interested in these women and they were not being very considerate about giving me a better reason to reject them than their lack of Jewish blood.

In fact, the email these women had sent really moved me. They were disappointed by the fact that their family would not be created the way they originally thought. Still, it was obviously more important to them to have a baby to love than to chase that dream of a bio-kid into financial and emotional bankruptcy. They sounded practical, loving and well-grounded.

I was concerned that their jobs might be too type-A to ensure they had enough time for their children, or too type-B to provide properly for the three kids they want. Previously, a potential recipient had opened an email asking for my embryos by lauding her "wonderful nanny" who was raising her first child while she persued a professional career. My first thought was "perhaps the nanny should be writing to me instead" since she was the one who would be raising a child from my embryos.

But these new candidates even had the perfect jobs. Jenny was a Physical Therapist in the schools. She worked in a helping profession because she cared about kids. It also meant she was pre-screened by the state licensing board as safe to be around children with no legal convictions against her, etc. Her job was, co-incidentally, very similar to mine. Erin was an interior designer, working professionally in a field my wife loves to dabble in for fun.

I was starting to think of these women as viable candidates for the embryos. But they still were not Jewish. They were willing to tell kids from these embryos about their genetic heritage, but how can someone raise a child to know a culture s/he is not familiar with?

How serious were these women about having a kid, and from these embryos in particular? The first time I was asked for the embryos I said yes because I didn't know how to properly screen candidates. That couple used an awful fertility clinic that hated lesbians and single heterosexuals so much their doctor was only allowed to use their labs as a guest. Yet they refused to use the clinic where my embryos are stored, even though it welcomes all women and has the best frozen embryo transfer rates in the US. My clinic is so good at what they do, and so inexpensive due to efficiencies of scale, that most of their patients are from out of town.

My ideal recipients would happily agree to use the clinic where the embryos are stored. Serious candidates would want to maximize their chances of having a baby by using the best possible clinic and avoiding shipping the delicate embryos.

In the case of the women I was now considering, their clinic would charge them $6000 to $8000 per embryo transfer. My clinic, with far better success rates, charges $2500. Jenny and Erin could transfer the embryos in three separate cycles at my clinic for the cost of one less successful attempt at their local clinic. Would they agree to do their transfers at my clinic? It meant flying one round trip and staying in a hotel at least two nights. Their answer would tell me how commited they were to a positive outcome.