Just as lesbians may use sperm from a sperm bank or known donor, gay men may use a known egg donor (a friend or relative will to donate her eggs to you or your partner) or an anonymous donor from an egg donation or Surrogacy agency. However, the process and preparation needed for egg donation is more involved than that of sperm donation. As a result, the price of purchasing eggs from an agency is much higher than that of sperm. Between the cost of healthcare, screening process, egg extraction, and agency fees, you can pay around $12,000 just to buy eggs (that’s not including the cost of IVF procedure and surrogacy fees).
Pros of Using a Known Egg Donor:
You know them. You can find out your donor’s medical history, and you know their personality, looks, and emotional and physical stability. Even with a known donor, it is best practice to pay for a number of screenings and tests for your egg donor to make sure they are mentally and physically ready for donation. You may also choose to involve your known donor in your child’s life.
It’s less expensive. If your friend or relative agrees to donate her eggs to you, she probably will not charge you for them (and it may not be legal even if she wanted to). Aside from the cost of genetic tests/screenings and the cost of the egg extraction procedure, you will not have to pay the agency or donor fee (anywhere from 5,000-7,000 each) for the eggs you receive.
It’s (potentially) less weird. I recently visited a surrogacy agency site that looked kind of like a dating site. Pictures of scantily clad women were displayed staring seductively at the camera with usernames like Fertile4U. Of course, there are many professional, classy, and considerate surrogacy agencies that are not like that at all. But the point is, it’s a bit like shopping for women. As with sperm donation, using a known donor can tone down the Eggs-4-Sale vibe and make your baby’s birth feel like it was born of a special bond or commitment between friends rather than a financial transaction.
Pros of Using a Donor or Surrogacy Agency:
The details are taken care of. Reputable agencies follow the guidelines of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), including performing necessary genetic and blood tests, and psychological screenings and medical history.
All-in-one services. Many agencies provide prospective egg donors and surrogate mothers all in one place.
No Risk of Custody Battles. Most agencies only work with gestational carriers, where the risk of a carrier being able to challenge recipients for custody of the child is little to none. Good agencies will have an experienced team of psychologists, lawyers, and medical professionals ensuring that your rights as a parent will not be compromised.
Other Surrogacy Agreements
Some couples attempt to find a potential surrogate directly, without going through an agency. If you decide to search for a surrogate on your own, you should be sure to check your state laws (some states that allow gestational surrogacy do not allow traditional surrogacy), obtain a lawyer who will ensure you are protected in the process, and perform routine screenings and checks endorsed by the ASRM.
Many gay couples recently are exploring surrogacy options in India, where agencies are offering lower costs and “guaranteed” pregnancies (for a slightly higher price). See this excellent post from IC blogger Ryan on The Pros and Cons of Indian Surrogacy.
Most surrogacy agencies and fertility clinics require the following from a qualified surrogate:
- Be in good physical and mental health
- Have carried and delivered at least one child
- Have had pregnancies that were all free of complications and were full-term
- Be less than 43 years of age (some clinics will accept older woman in certain circumstances; others have younger age cut-offs for all surrogates)
- Be in a stable living situation; and
- Not smoke or abuse alcohol.