Embryo Donation: A Practical Guide

Deciding the fate of remaining embryos after iVF is not easy.

After going through the process myself, I had a lightbulb moment: someone should write a guide for people just starting out. What they should know going in, what to consider when choosing recipients, and the pitfalls they should avoid.

Then I thought, “Welp, I’ve already got the blog, maybe I should write it.”

Though my own donation didn’t result in a live birth, I’ve got knowledge to share from my experience and those of my donor mom friends. I researched and talked to other donors, both known and anonymous, to get a wider point of view for my guide. I hope you find it helpful.

Prologue—How We Got to Donation

Chapter One—The Biggy: Deciding to Donate

Chapter Two—Anonymous vs. Known Donation

Chapter Three—Finding Recipients

Chapter Four—Match.com for Genetic Material

Chapter Five—He’s Just Not That Into It: Bringing Your Spouse Along


Prologue: How We Got to Donation

Just a few months after Squeak’s birth, with a two-year-old and a three-month-old child, we started looking into what it would take to donate our embryos.

We expected a fast and easy process: we have ‘em, someone needs ‘em, bam, perfect situation. Unfortunately, it  was neither fast nor easy. It was scary, and the best I can describe, it stirred up an emotional minefield. I had no idea what to expect.

I learned a lot, every step of the way. My husband and I  tethered our lives forever to Lauren and Jesse by donating our embryos to them.

There is no shortage of couples looking for embryos. But there is a major shortage of couples donating their unused embryos.

I get it—the idea of donating is scary. It’s a headfirst dive into the unknown, with who-knows-what lurking underneath.

There are other embryo donation guides out there, but they’re one-sided. The authors are mostly adoptive parents, and the most extreme of them use terms like “frozen orphans,” or “souls on ice” to describe embryos they adopt. Some of them go so far as to describe the embryos as “abandoned in their icy prisons.” Donors are mentioned only as an afterthought, with little or no gratitude. Worst of all, the most self-righteous repeat a claim that they “saved” the embryos.

Those words make my blood boil. They come across as insults, and the lowest of the low employ them.

I want to empower couples considering embryo donation, not tear them down by accusing them of abandonment.

Every iVF survivor considering donation can attest to this fact: donated embryos are not abandoned or orphaned. The the exact opposite is true. They are cherished, not by one set of parents, but two. The genetic parents of donated embryos want a loving family to find them, and they work very hard (and go through a difficult time emotionally) to accomplish that. It’s anything but abandonment.

Adoptive parents are not saving embryos. Donors are. We make the choice between discarding, research, or donating. It’s our difficult choice that enables families to adopt them.

If you take nothing else from this book, remember this: Donating an embryo is the ultimate act of love.

It all starts with a decision. So let’s dive right in. Chapter One—Deciding to Donate.