Sunday, February 18, 2007


While we waited for the lawyer to finish our embryo donation contract Jenny and Erin were planning their first frozen embryo transfer cycle. We had picked them as recipients in part because they were so positive about embryo donation. Their egos were not tied up in needing help to have a baby. They seemed excited to have been selected to receive our embryos from amongst dozens of families. They were going to be completely honest about with friends, family and their children.

But how do you tell your loved ones about this novel way to become parents? Their families of origin were already aware of what was happening and completely supportive of their choice. Now Jenny and Erin chose to spell out exactly how they hoped to have a child in an email to about a dozen close friends and relatives.

"Hello Everyone! For those of you that we haven’t talked to in a while I just wanted to give you an update. We have been trying to have a baby now for about a year. We have gone through 7 failed insemination attempts, several procedures, one surgery and too many blood tests to count.

Basically, what we found is that the quality and quantity of Erin's eggs are not what they should be. We were told that she could get pregnant, but it could take years and with us having to pay for every insemination as well as every sperm vial it was not feasible. We also talked with the doctor about using my eggs and having Erin carry the baby. This was going to cost upward of 25,000$ … way out of our budget.

With [my medical history] getting pregnant could be very difficult and the chances of miscarriage and birth defects are high. We were advised to participate in the “donor embryo” program. This is basically where couples have gone through IVF and have embryos (frozen) that are “left over”. Several embryos can result from an IVF cycle and many people have embryos left over after having children. They have the choice to either 1) dispose of the embryos, 2) donate them to science (stem cell research) or 3) donate them to other couples.

Our [local] fertility clinic offers this service. It is an anonymous program, meaning that we would have the opportunity to receive embryos but we would never know (other than the basic medical information) anything about the donors. The likelihood of ever having “biological siblings” was virtually impossible too. We would more than likely be given embryos from several different families.

We were still excited with all this information and the possibility of having a child. We got on the Internet to look up information regarding embryo donation. In the process we ran across several websites that offered a “listing” service to donors and recipients. These websites gave the opportunity to match donors with potential recipients. All of the websites we came across were ran by religious organizations that were very restricting in the couples they would allow to adopt. They wanted married couples who had been trying to conceive for a certain amount of time who were members of a church etc. and no alternative families.

We came across one website, This website provided the same service but had no restrictions. It was up to the donor families to determine the type of family they wanted to donate to. The very first listing we came to said, “embryos for a jewish/lesbian couple” and surprisingly (sarcasm) this was the only couple that specified they would like to donate to a lesbian
couple. We emailed and explained that we were not Jewish, but lesbian and interested in speaking to this couple. After several weeks of discussions and contract negotiations, we are happy to say that we have been chosen to receive the three embryos this couple has.

We are so delighted and excited and wanted to say thank you to those of you who have been so supportive in all this. It has been a roller coaster ride and I know we have a much longer ride ahead but we just wanted to say thank you!"

IVF and embryo donation are relatively new concepts. Many people are completely unaware of how either system works. Jenny and Erin spelled out exactly what embryo donation is. They did not assume that their loved ones knew anything about it. They also showed how they felt about anonymous donation, their hope for their children and how positive they felt about using embryos from a known donor.

By being up-front about their choice to pursue embryo donation, Jenny and Erin present it as something to be proud of. Sending the email to multiple friends and families at once shows they are not trying to hide their choice. They could have chosen not to inform the people in their lives or told them individually or after their child was born. This would have sent the message that embryo donation is something to hide. By contrast, their truthful email underscored their "delighted and excited" feelings about this donation.

We were pretty thrilled ourselves. Jenny and Erin included my family in this email about their plans. Seeing that they were being truthful with the most important people they knew further reinforced our conviction that they were the right recipients for our embryos. We looked forward to signing the embryo donation contract that would allow Jenny and Erin to pursue their dreams.