GIVF eNews

July 2011 eNews

Beyond IVF: Considering Donor Gametes or Adoption

Your doctor says you aren’t a candidate for IVF.

You’ve been through several unsuccessful IVF cycles.

You’re facing male factor infertility.

If you can relate to any of the statements above, you aren’t alone. 

If you are at this juncture and creating or expanding your family is your dream, remember that you still have options.  For many infertile individuals or couples, it is not easy to decide to move beyond IVF and consider alternative family building options.  These options can include using donor gametes (donor eggs or donor sperm), adopting a child, or fostering a child. Presented below are options for you to consider.

Donor Egg IVF
Donor Egg IVF can be a viable treatment option for women who have been repeatedly unsuccessful with traditional IVF or are over 40 years old and trying to conceive.  A woman’s egg quality is one of the most important predictors of outcome for fertility treatment.  Using donor eggs overcomes the problem of decreased egg quality and/or quantity due to age or to other medical conditions, and many patients say they find the Donor Egg IVF process to be much simpler than traditional IVF.  Advanced technology allows patients to choose from fresh or frozen donor eggs, providing an expanded variety of choice when identifying the ideal egg donor.

Donor Egg isn’t just for the infertile.  If the woman is a known carrier of a genetic mutation, an anonymous egg donor can be used to avoid passing that mutation on to the child.  At the Genetics & IVF Institute, our egg donor screening process includes a wide range of testing for genetic diseases by our board certified clinical geneticist and Reproductive Genetics team.

At GIVF, we believe that providing extensive information about our egg donors is crucial to helping patients select a donor.  A wide range of information, including current and childhood photos, is available for each egg donor.  While the choice of donor is made entirely by the patient, our donor egg coordinators are available to assist patients with the donor selection process as necessary. Another aspect of Donor Egg IVF to consider is the treatment cost.  At GIVF, we are sensitive to the cost of fertility treatment and offer many different financial programs, plus financial counselors who are available to help patients choose a program that best fits their needs. 

Donor Sperm
For couples facing male factor infertility, donor sperm from a cryobank ( sperm bank) is an option that can be used in conjunction with intrauterine insemination (IUI) or IVF to achieve pregnancy.  Anonymous sperm donors undergo extensive screening and testing prior to being accepted as a donor.  Another reason donor sperm may be used is to avoid potentially passing on a genetic disease that is carried by the male partner.  Just like egg donors, sperm donors undergo extensive screening with a board-certified clinical geneticist.

GIVF has two affiliated cryobanks, Fairfax Cryobank and Cryogenic Laboratories, Inc. that offer fully screened, quality donor sperm.  

GIVF patients who choose donor sperm from Fairfax Cryobank can take advantage of free shipping and handling (a savings of up to $255), as well as same day delivery.  Because GIVF and Fairfax Cryobank share the same location, GIVF patients who use donor sperm from Fairfax Cryobank enjoy the utmost in personalized service (including hand delivery) and fast Vial Buy Back service if any vials go unused.

Extensive information is provided about the sperm donors at Fairfax Cryobank, and there are many tools that can help patients select an appropriate donor.  Fairfax FaceMatch™ allows users to upload a photo (perhaps of partner, family member, even a celebrity), and then analyzes and compares that photo to adult photos of the Fairfax Cryobank’s donors.  Fairfax FaceMatch™ then provides results starting with the donor who most closely resembles the photo.   Click here to learn more about Fairfax Cryobank.

Adoption & Foster Care
Adoption options range from domestic adoption to international adoption to foster care.  According to The Adoption Guide, 25,000 – 30,000 infants are adopted domestically in the US each year and the cost can vary anywhere from $20,000 - $35,000.  Typical waiting time averages around 24 months, but can vary a great deal.  Adoption laws vary from state to state, so it is important to research those laws as well as seek counsel from an attorney who specializes in adoption.

According to the US State Department, a total of 224,615 international, or intercountry, adoptions have been made by Americans over the past ten years.  More details regarding country and yearly data from the US State Department can be viewed here.  Cost and wait times for international adoptions vary greatly, but The Adoption Guide reports that most international adoptions begin at $25,000.  Adopting from Russia tends to be among the most expensive, while adoptions from China and Ethiopia tend to be among the least expensive. 

Another aspect to understand about international adoption is the Hague Convention, which was implemented in the US in 2008.  The Hague Convention applies to international adoptions between the US and other participating countries and was established to safeguard the children involved in the adoption process.  To learn more about eligibility requirements for international adoption, click here.

Yet another family building option is foster care.  The Adoption Guide reports that an estimated 425,000 US children currently live in foster homes, and an estimated 54% are eventually adopted by non-relative families.  The average age of a child entering foster care is 8 years old, however, the cost of foster care is dramatically less than adoption (generally less than $5,000).  Depending on the state and the needs of the child, state subsidies may be available to families caring for foster children.  Click here to learn more about foster care opportunities at www.adoptuskids.org

You Have Options
If your dream is to start a family or to grow your current family, always remember that you have many options available to help you realize that dream. 

There is no “one size fits all” answer, so it is important to understand all of the options available to you.  Seeing a licensed counselor and/or attending a support group can provide invaluable help in making the decision that is right for you as well as throughout the entire infertility treatment process or adoption process and beyond.

GIVF has one of the largest and most successful Donor Egg IVF programs in the US. Choose from fresh or frozen donor eggs and get started right away. View our success rates by clicking here. To schedule an appointment, click here.


Affordable Multicycle Contract from Fairfax Egg Bank is Now Available!

If you are a woman considering Donor Egg IVF to get pregnant, you know how challenging it can be to find the ideal egg donor.

Frozen donor eggs from the Genetics & IVF Institute’s in-house egg bank, Fairfax Egg Bank, give you more choice and make your search easier. And with the new Fairfax Egg Bank Multicycle contract, you have even more affordable options.

  • $27,000 includes two frozen donor egg cycles & related frozen embryo transfer cycles.
  • One year contract that is considered fulfilled upon the live birth of a baby.

Fairfax Egg Bank Multicycle Contract Includes:

  • Two frozen donor egg cycles
  • Matching fees
  • All  in-house monitoring
  • Warming of Oocytes
  • ICSI
  • Assisted hatching (if recommended) 
  • All fresh transfers
  • All Frozen Embryo Cycles
  • Cryopreservation (for as long as you are in the program)
  • Storage (until you give birth or contract terminates)
  • All pregnancy tests for fresh and frozen cycles
  • One gestational sonogram once pregnancy is determined
  • One year contract, once live birth is achieved contract is fulfilled

Fairfax Egg Bank Multicycle Contract Does Not Include:

  • Consultation & follow-up appointments
  • Prescreening tests (male & female)
  • Storage of embryos once contract fulfilled
  • Outside services
  • Additional gestational sonograms
  • Maternity care
  • Medical care for complications due to pregnancy
  • PGD (not available with frozen donor eggs)
  • Subsequent cycles once contract fulfilled  (live birth or contract terms)

To learn more, click here or contact a financial counselor by calling 800.552.4363 or 703.698.7355.


Donor Gametes: Sharing Your Child's Conception Story
by Phyllis Martin, MEd, LPC

I hear two questions on a regular basis from parents or intended parents using donor gametes (donor eggs or donor sperm).

When should I tell my child we used an egg donor/sperm donor? How do I tell her/him?

There are different opinions about ifwhen, and how to tell a child.  The following list of tips is geared toward families planning to tell their child his/her conception story early (between birth and 11 years of age).  There is more to this than simply sharing this information with your child, but much of it boils down to your personal feelings about your use of donor gametes.  Keep the following tips in mind and tweak where necessary to suit your family's needs.

Do:

  1. Remember the reasons you chose donor egg/donor sperm and all the hope and positivity that came from that.  This is where your child's story began.

  2. Remember the donor gave you eggs or sperm, not a baby.  You are the only parent(s) your child will ever have.

  3. Focus on what excited you about using donor gametes in simple terms: "finally we could be parents" or "we were so happy when the doctor said he could help us!"

  4. Keep your words simple and your concepts concrete.  For example, "Mommy’s eggs didn't work so a nice doctor helped us" with very young children.  For children around 3rd grade, something like: "Mom's eggs weren't working well (whatever the reason for needing a donor) so we went to an infertility doctor.  They are doctors who help figure out why it is hard to get pregnant, and they have ways to help."

  5. Talk about when you were pregnant with your child. They love to hear if they kicked, had hiccups, etc.  This also reinforces your connection and role. Any pictures of you while pregnant are always fun to add.

  6. Use proper terms such as uterus, egg, sperm, etc. (comparing to a seed works too).

  7. Use a book for children to show what it looks like to be pregnant, what an egg and a sperm look like, etc.  There are dozens of very good, age appropriate books for young children.  Children are concrete thinkers so happy, cartoon like pictures are always good.

  8. Recognize the distinction between your story and the story you tell your child; keep them separate.  You might have had loss or sadness, but is your story.  Once you turned the corner and accepted the idea of donor egg, you began your child's story and his/her story might start off with something like, "I was so happy the doctor told us he could help us because we wanted you so badly!"

  9. Allow for questions and know it is your job to bring it up again and again, simply and lovingly. 

Don't:

  1. Don't make the pain of not using your own eggs the theme or main point of the story.  The grief, hurt, and loss you feel/felt before making the decision is NOT the story you are telling your child.  If you are parenting and still feeling genetic loss and grief strongly, consider getting counseling or support because it will impact the interaction you have with your child.

  2. Don't confuse your feelings or perceptions with those of your child's.  The assumption that your child will be burdened by this knowledge is because you feel burdened. It was you that went through all the failed cycles or years of infertility--not your child.  It was a burden trying to conceive and making so many difficult decisions. It was grief of your genetics that may have brought tears or fears.  No child you parent inherits this burden unless you treat them as such.  No child you parent will grieve your genetics.  That was work you had to do prior to accepting the idea of using a donor.

  3. Don't minimize the amazing gift you have chosen.  You are not telling your child "donor egg was my last choice," as it may have been when you began to consider it.  Once you chose donor gametes, it is your first, best choice. 

  4. Don't provide too much information too fast.  Depending on the age of your child, everything need not be shared (donor profile, previous attempts to conceive, etc).  Initially, a donor can be "a kind lady/man" or "a special woman/man."  For very young children, some parents start with "Mommy’s eggs didn't work and the doctors were able to help us" years before adding the donor piece.

  5. Don't refer to the egg donor as "real mom," "biological mom," or use ANY mothering term.  In no way will she ever mother your child.  In using donor egg, you understand that the role of mother is NOT linked to DNA and that mothering is not the same as donating.

  6. Don't use cutesy terms for reproductive parts.  Not only is it confusing, it doesn't correlate with any book you use to show your child what a pregnant woman, uterus, eggs, sperm, etc. looks like.

  7. Don't wait for your child to ask you where babies come from before you start sharing.  Not all children ask, in fact, most do not.
Over the years, I have coached countless couples and individuals through this delicate process.  The key to this process is that it starts with you.  If you are sad or resentful, a child will pick that up.  If you are nervous, they will wonder why and not be likely to ask questions as they arise for fear of upsetting you.  If you are fearful of rejection at sharing the conception story, still think it is a loss, or that it is something you are struggling with, work on yourself before sharing your conception information.  

Although your story and your child's story are related, remember that your story of loss ends where your child's story of being created begins.  Think about it because your child’s story is not one of loss, it is one of gain.  Once you feel comfortable and confident, you too will have an amazing and marvelous story of how your baby came to be.

Phyllis Martin is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Infertility Specialist who is available to current patients, as well as those considering infertility treatment or who have undergone treatment. Click here to view the support group meeting schedule or here to contact Ms. Martin.


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