We’ve been looking at egg donors for months, but none of the donors seem to fit into our family. Are we being crazy, or should we just give up the idea that we will find the “perfect” profile. What are your thoughts?
— Bruce and Christian
I once had a client who spent 18 months looking at donor profiles of women from all over North America. I don’t know what he was looking for exactly — his comment for each donor was that she didn’t look “quite like the person he had in mind”. A year and a half later, he finally gave up his search, as well as his dream of having a child.
So many couples struggle with infertility. I work with couples every day who are ready to mortgage their entire lives to have ANY child at all. I’ll never understand how someone can prefer NO child rather than a child that doesn’t look “quite like the person he had in mind”.
In the end I was relieved this particular client cancelled his journey (and I was happy to refund his money). Such obsession on appearance is personally infuriating. The prevalence of IVF and Surrogacy has made having a baby easier than buying a car. And just like a new car, some couples seem to consider their new baby something to show off on Instagram rather than an actual loving person.
Of course there is a certain reasonable desire to have your baby have a resemblance to yourself. It’s understandable that some parents think a child who is clearly a different ethnic heritage may feel ‘out of place’ in the family photos. I grant some leeway here — but even this can reach obsessive levels.
But here’s some advice based on years of experience…. Don’t bother!
First, you can’t control what your baby looks like, so don’t even try. High-school biology makes every new parent think they’ve mastered an understanding of genetics and they’re going to unlock the secrets to America’s next top supermodel. Well, you haven’t, and you won’t.
Your baby’s gene pool will run deeper than you know, and you can’t predict what features are going to blossom from the extremities of either your family tree (or your donor’s). No matter how hard you try to control this, you’re going to be surprised.
Second, even children born via a donor are going to look like their Intended Parents. That is an inevitable fact.
Many parents choose their donor thinking that she’ll determine if the baby fits into their family. It’s easy to understand why people feel strongly about this — parents expect the baby will look 50% like their donor. Parents don’t want to look at the baby and see a stranger. But in reality, this is not a reasonable possibility.
Why? Because when you look at your baby, you can only “recognize” what you know. What is unfamiliar slips into the background and disappears. This is such common sense that nobody seems to grasp the idea. If you haven’t met your donor, then you can’t recognize any of her features in your baby. In contrast, you know every minor physical quirk of your husband, and they will shine through.
When you meet your baby, you will immediately see all the family features that have surfaced in the child. You have not met your egg donor — so there is nothing in the baby that can remind you of her. The best physical quality of an egg donor is not that she looks like the intended mother, but that she doesn’t really look like anybody (or possibly she looks like “everybody”).
I have two sons both born from egg donors. I cannot name one characteristic either inherited from their donor. (I barely remember what she looked like.) But absolutely everyone who has met them can immediately name a half dozen family features. That’s just the nature of how we see kids.
Anyway… that’s my personal experience. I hope it is helpful.
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