Considering using a donor to get pregnant? Here’s how to get started.

Jul 03, 2023

When you’re faced with the reality of going down the path of donor conception, it’s a complicated range of emotions you face. The most prevalent one, being grief.  While I didn’t go down the donor path, I guess in a roundabout way, I did.  We used a surrogate to have our little boy, Luca, which still included a heck of amount of grief and other confusing emotions. It wasn’t the way we had pictured it. 

In order to get ALL the information on donor conception, I had a conversation recently with Meta Getman, fellow fertility coach and mom to two beautiful donor-conceived children. This blog is inspired by her, and our interview that you can view in its entirety HERE.

So, what do you do when you’re faced with the decision of using a donor?  Firstly, it helps to get to a point of acceptance, that you’re going to explore this option in the first place.  And p.s. acceptance doesn't mean that you have to get to a place where you're happy about it – it’s ok to say that this sucks!  Accepting is opening yourself up to the next stage.

This involves working your way through all of the emotions that come up.  And it’s important to understand that it’s okay and completely normal to feel all of the range of emotions. Despite the copious amounts of toxic positivity people pile on you, it’s ok not to see all the positives instead of the hurt, and disappointment.

Unfortunately, when it comes to grief (which is what this is), we have to work through all the stages – we can’t go over, around or under them (as much as we can try).

We face denial – this can include strong reactions and blanket statements of “absolutely not!” or “never in a million years”.  We put off the decision, and won’t even consider it.  We do IVF cycle after IVF cycle, sometimes delaying the inevitable.

Then comes anger – we get angry that we have to go down this path, fork out hundreds of thousands of dollars, when other people get their babies so easily.

Bargaining – if I cut out all alcohol, gluten, do the acupuncture, or do one more cycle of IVF…..then we’ll consider it.

Then there's the depression stage, which is so hard. You get that deep, gut-wrenching sadness where you’re not able to get out of bed or function. And this is where we have to do the hardest work – this is where going to a therapist or a fertility coach, can help you move through this to acceptance.

These are the rainbow of stages, but please note, this cycle is continual throughout the whole process.  No, it’s not a sign that you’re not handling it well, it’s a sign that you are grieving.

Once you’ve reached the stage where you’re open to considering using a donor, it’s about asking yourself - is donor conception for me? Have a conversation with your partner and ask yourselves – what are your true goals here?  Is it to be a parent regardless?  Is it to experience pregnancy yourself?  How do you want your family to look? What does your partner want? And does the donor fit into those wants? 

Using a donor isn’t for everyone, so it’s important to ask yourself whether it’s right for you.

The next stage is getting the right information and doing some exploration.

There is a lot of information out there, and lots of different options.  You may be drawn to jump on Google and type in donor eggs or donor sperm, but that’s looking for a needle in a haystack.  You can get some initial information from Google, however, it may be a little overwhelming.

Your fertility doctor should be able to provide you with information on reputable organisations that they work with.  But it depends on the country you live in, and if you’re willing to travel. 

There are also a number of things to consider, that may eliminate some donor programs for you i.e. How do you want to find your donor? How do you want to interact with them or not interact with them? What kind of relationship do you want with them? Do you value a program that protects the rights of all involved and is ethical in its approach?

And then it’s thinking about what you want in a donor, and getting a lot more specific.

To release the pressure on you, give yourself permission to change your mind along the way.  These are weird concepts you’re considering right now, so you may find some resistance at first.  But once you get used to the idea, you can come back with a fresh set of eyes and make a different decision.

Another big hurdle to get past with using a donor is – Who do you tell?

Firstly, you’re not obligated to tell anyone.  Remember – this is your journey, and no one has earned the right to hear your story.  So when we’re talking about sharing this, it helps to classify it into two categories - who needs to know?  And who doesn’t need to know?

So, who are the typical people that you tell? Firstly, your child – depending on when you’d like to share this with them.  For Luca, we shared that he was born via a surrogate (his Aunty Renee) when he was around 4 years old, because he asked about when he was in my tummy.  You would also tell your doctor (for medical purposes), potentially your child’s teacher (so they’re aware of it if it comes up on the family tree description), and those who will be in close contact with your children, where it may come up in conversation etc.

And the rest of the people fall into the category of those who don’t really need to know, but you can share if you’d like to. It’s your choice.

Another hurdle you may face is – what will people think?

Inevitably there will be some insensitive comments or questions that come up. It’s natural for people to say to you when looking at your child – oh, he or she has your eyes. Or, they may ask - who does your child look like? It helps to be prepared for the answers.  And while it may be awkward at first, it will get easier. 

The most important thing to remember is that you are their parent, they are your child, and it doesn’t matter what people think at the end of the day.

Which is where the acceptance part comes into play.  Other people don’t have to accept your path to parenthood - only you do. The more secure you are in your relationship with your child, the easier it will be.

But remember – this path is a hard one, and you deserve to feel supported and heard on this journey.  You can get that support from someone like Meta Getman, who supports those who are considering using donor eggs, donor sperm, or donor embryos to create their families.  

Meta also has a podcast called Infertility Crossroads, which talks about the decision points or the crossroads that we face on our fertility journey. 

Would you like to know more about how you can work with me, so you can get back control of your life and start moving forward?  My 1:1 coaching program is packed with information, tools and support. Find out how you can get on the wait list now.  

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