IVF Journey — Donor Eggs

Egg production in the human ovary

Oocytes and egg production

[cont’d from How our IVF Journey Began]

While we waited for husband’s second attempt at providing sperm, we started looking for a good egg donor. It’s kind of the Wild West, with little regulation and some donor agencies placing ads in college newspaper to entice young woe=men with promises of large fees (as much as $100K!) for “suitable” donors — there is great demand for certified excellent donors, with advanced degrees, Ivy League schools, being Asian (much IVF business in LA serves Chinese clients, who want a baby with US citizenship but are wary of having a child who doesn’t appear “different.”) The LA IVF clinics do a thriving business with the Chinese who have their IVF babies born in LA for US citizenship. Not to mention the thousands of Chinese birthmothers who fly in for a few week stay to have their babies here. Few countries would allow a mother to fly in as a tourist to have their children with automatic citizenship; various moves to limit birth citizenship in the US to those who have a permanent tie to the US (legal residence, employment in the US, etc.) have been floated but are quickly shot down as “xenophobic.”

IVF was pioneered and perfected in several countries, but LA has become a world center for intended parents from around the world(from Vogue): How California Became the World’s Fertility Treatment Destination “For a growing number of women worldwide, the often emotional struggle to get pregnant is leading to Los Angeles. With its top-notch tech and liberal laws, is California changing the business of giving birth?” Yes, it did.

July 4 2019

Spent the morning looking through egg donor listings. One was trying to impress with her educational accomplishments but used an apostrophe wrong — “Not today, Satan!”
Most impressive so far — young lady who grew up in the Central Valley / Fresno area, first to go to college, now at UCLA grad school in neuroscience, statistics. No glamour shot with eye makeup like most, no desire to stay in touch, cites Steven Pinker as her fave author. Swoon!

That egg donor did not pass further screening. We were looking for someone as intelligent as we are, to give the children the best chance at good genetics for learning and accomplishment. The egg donor sites are full of heavily-made-up and processed young ladies who pick glamour shots to represent themselves; Instagram and the like have trained young women to strive for this look. It’s a bit offputting.

July 12 2019

There are apparently 500,000 frozen embryos waiting for disposition in the US. This article jumps off a celebrity court battle to make some ethical comments: [Sofia Vergara’s Embryos Join Father Nick Loeb In Suing Her To Let Them Live]

Some Hollywood women have their children by surrogacy to avoid career interruption (they are paid enough so I hiatus results in lost income and career damage.) But the Intended Parents [IP] are treated the same in Family Court, so such children are given child support from the wealthier partner. A situation with divorce followed by one parent disowning the embryos and another wanting them decanted gets into ugly territory.

Note also the egg freezing that young career women are advised to do if they want to have children in later life. Eggs begin to deteriorate after the age of 30, so women, correctly believing they will be viewed as less serious and reliable if they pause to have children, postpone becoming mothers for a more convenient time. By waiting until they are well-established to bear a child, they can avoid loss of career momentum before they have established themselves. You can have your cake and eat it too by freezing your eggs when they are most viable and bearing them much later — much less risky than waiting to 45 or 50 to try for natural children. Many older couples end up doing IVF because of male factor infertility or poor quality eggs.

July 17 2019

The IVF clinic had a notary on staff to help you notarize a flurry of legal documents via Skype. 75 pages of legal and disclosures, initial every paragraph, sign about 10 times.
Very Brave New World. Reminds me of Heinlein’s The Door Into Summer with the frozen lives and contracts at the cryosleep place. Was strange visiting westside LA and seeing all the street names Heinlein had borrowed for characters, like Sawtelle. I remember them all from when I was 12.
— quote —
We understand that under California law our unused cryopreserved embryos, eggs and sperm are our property, subject to disposition under California Probate Code §6400 et seq., and California Family Code §2010, and that we jointly have the right to exercise decisional control over the disposition of our frozen embryos, eggs and/or sperm. We further understand that this Agreement is required to be provided to all IVF patients by CFP pursuant to California Health and Safety Code §125315, and that the possible choices for disposition of our embryos are dictated by that statute. We also understand that the disposition choices for our frozen eggs and/or sperm, although not specifically referred to in California Health and Safety Code §125315, will be treated in the exact same manner as our frozen embryos. We further understand that the legal status of cryopreserved embryos, eggs and/or sperm, and the use, custody, and ownership of said embryos, eggs and/or sperm is complex and unsettled in the law. We are making the choices indicated herein to avoid the complexities and ambiguities inherent in the process, and to ensure that our joint written directives regarding the disposition of our unused cryopreserved embryos, eggs and/or sperm are followed.

There are also many contracts required for egg donor agencies and donors, gestational carriers and their agents, escrow companies (where intended parents deposit what is promised to carriers and donors so that they can proceed without worry someone won’t be able to pay as promised.)

July 22 2019

Another fresh new experience – went to an IVF clinic in Palm Springs to have a sperm count done. 11 AM is too early for this kind of thing, and a white room with a foot-thick selection of reading material (on top: Hustler. It’s still a thing?) is hardly romantic. We survived, though. Results to be faxed to LA doc tonight or tomorrow. BTW, I tried to schedule this through my official doctor, and it took them days and they only found a LabCorp place in Riverside, an hour drive each way. This place I found myself was $140 cash each and you got an appointment the next business day. I’m guessing the insurance route would have cost $300.

Other patients there for IVF were about half foreign. Not obvious where from, but not Chinese. One couple was speaking Italian.

We found a new egg donor candidate at one of the more mercenary agencies. She was 29, had an impressive background at a well-known B-level STEM college, and was in mid-career in the video game industry. She was motivated by a desire to help people without herself having to go on hiatus before she was secure, plus of course the fee for her egg donation. We had a Zoom call with new egg donor (who lives in another state.) She was extremely impressive on call, polished and intelligent. Looking like a great choice.