Selecting an egg donor is kind of a big deal. There are several categories of qualities to choose from, and before you even start looking, you pretty much have to accept that you can’t have all of them, which – if you’re a Type A personality who’s delayed having a family until everything in your life is absolutely perfect, which you don’t realize until you’re completely infertile is never going to happen – is a hard thing to face.
There are a lot of qualities to choose from when hand-picking genes for your child, and if you have the impression that this process is a bizarre blend of online dating and science-fiction, then you understand the situation completely.
It’s an extremely personal decision, and priorities will vary for everyone. After hours and days of profile searching, I determined what qualities I wanted. In order of importance, they are,
Looks tops my list. Some people refuse to look at any donor pictures, but I want someone who resembles me as much as possible, and photos are my first filter before putting her on a short list. Yes, there’s height and skin tone, but to be honest, I’m looking for someone who I think is pretty. I know this is vain and superficial to a clinical degree, and I should probably feel embarrassed about it, but what can I say? Everyone has their priority, and this one’s mine.
Health ties for first, or at least it runs a very close second. The available information ranges from serious birth defects to whether the donor ever had braces, and you get histories on the donor, her siblings (whole and half), her parents, and her grandparents. I have to admit that this area feels tricky since the information is volunteered and could easily be falsified, but what choice do I have? I’m being as picky as I can here and ruling out any genetic ailments, but lifestyle diseases (like adult onset diabetes) can slide.
Fertility comes in a very close third. There are only 3 ways to anticipate egg quality: the donor’s age (the younger the better), previous pregnancies, and prior cycles. Proven donors charge about $2-3000 more than first-time donors, and I’m not prepared to add this to the cost just yet, which is what makes it come in third. Given that, I’m not considering anyone over 26 (the general cut-off is 30 or 32), and I’m looking for women who’ve had either children and abortions, but no miscarriages. The donor’s resting follicle count is a 4th determinant of fertility, but you don’t always get that information until after you’ve chosen her.
Intelligence runs a distant fourth for me. Lots of people prioritize intelligence, and I understand why. The brain is a physical organ that’s inherited, so intelligence is obviously genetic. In fact, donors with medical degrees and Pulitzer-Prize-winning uncles go for about $25,000, so it’s got to account for something. I, on the other hand, am just looking for a 3.0 GPA and the ability to communicate sensible thoughts. It’s a low bar, but you can’t prioritize everything, so I’m going to trust that N’s brilliance will instill what it can into that baby, and we’ll settle for nurture when it comes to the rest.
Personality-related information is, in my opinion, the most banal set of questions on these profiles. It includes things like favorite color, favorite book, and favorite movie, the last of which is invariably either Eat, Pray, Love or The Notebook (yes, they’re that young). I’d never choose someone because we both like beach vacations, but I have eliminated tons of donors because their answers reveal that they’re idiots, so I suppose that’s useful.
Well, that’s my list of priorities and the logic behind it. It makes perfect sense to me, but I also really understand why another person’s list would look completely different.
OK. Now to find a match.