Our journey through infertility, failed adoptions and now parenthood through the miracle of embryo adoption/donation.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Known vs Anonymous

One of the the most important decisions you will face in EA is whether to go with a known or anonymous donation.  Both have positives and negatives and often we find ourselves leaning one direction only to go the opposite. Today I would like to take a moment to discuss the two and why we chose the path we did.

In the beginning of all of this we were certain that we would go with a known donation. We believe that open adoption is the best so why should embryo adoption be any different, right? Well, EA is a different ball game and sometime you have to change the rules. Even though we are going the anonymous route for a second time I do believe that known is still the route I prefer, but not always possible.

There are pros and cons of both. For known you will get a complete health history, access to changes in health situations, and the ability for all genetic children to know each other. The cons are that you will be linked with this family forever and if there is ever a disagreement it could become awkward. I am not saying that this will happen, but it can. Also, some donors have specific requests for donor couples and you will need to comply.

For anonymous the pros are that you never have to deal with anyone else. Once you sign the papers you are finished.  This is usually (though not always) a less expensive option. The cons are that you have no access to the donor family at all. Ever. Some clinics will contact them in the event of a life threatening illness, but not all will. Also, children will not have the option to meet their genetic family.

In 2009 we posted an ad on Miracles Waiting hoping to find a match. During this time we began searching for an RE to use locally once we found our embryos. During one of the consults we were presented with the option to use embryos they had available, but it would be anonymous. We struggled with this decision. What if our child wanted to meet their family one day? What if she needed bone marrow? What if, what if, what if?? Then two things were said to me that changed everything:

*Just because the embryos were donated anonymously do they not deserve the chance at life? And if so, why not you? Why not me? Someone will use them, why not you?

*If someone abandoned a baby at a hospital and there was no information on that child, would you adopt him? Or walk away because you will not have a complete health history? Or say no because he cannot meet his genetic family one day?

After this I knew that this was the path that God had chosen for us. And looking at my daughter I am so very thankful we went the route we did. For our second attempt we tried a known donation again but after 2 failed attempts and the frustration of no communication we felt like anonymous was our path again. And God is working it out perfectly!

The choice to go known or anonymous is a personal one and each family needs to do what is best for them. But neither option is less than the other. Both are amazing! But for those starting down this path I urge you to open your heart and mind to other possibilities. Do not get so stuck on one idea that you miss the opportunity that God may have for you.


  1. I couldn't agree more, great post. Each agency has its own way of doing things. I think it's just a matter of figuring what works for you. The saying has never been more true... You can't always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you need.

  2. We are fortunate to be able to have all the health history, physical characteristics, education level and pretty much anything else you can think of except names. I feel very lucky to be able to tell my children about their genetic family even if they will never know who they are. It's really the best of both worlds!

  3. There is no doubt that this is a minefield. We have a son through international adoption and we know his story and have alot of information. We know that this is a story to tell him at age appropriate times ('Taught him to say E Thi O P IA! very early on). But with embryo adoption I think it's even harder to know what to say and how and when to say it. The truth is always the best, but I feel it's more difficult in a way to hear it as a child. We have some embryos in a clinic that due to illness on my part, we couldn't transfer. Then, within 2 months and after 5 years of waiting, we got the referral for our ethiopian prince, God's plan is no doubt always in action! We still dont know whether we will go down the route of embryo transfer in the Ukraine, I just cant seem to make up my mind, but one way or the other, we want them to have the chance of life either with us or with couples or families we can gift them to.

  4. Great post! We went anonymous and do have a decent amount of information from the genetic family to share with our children. I know they will have questions that we'll never be able to answer, but we'll have to work through it. Anonymous might have been the only way the donor family felt comfortable donating and if that option allowed my children to survive, then so be it. Thanks for sharing!

  5. We went anonymous and wanted it that way. We know there will be times when G has questions but ultimately, we are her family that has known her since before she was born. We will do our best to ensure she knows she was wanted by everyone who had a hand in her creation...Mostly by God, then by the bio-parents who desperately wanted children so did IVF and then by us who is her forever family. That is a LOT of wanting. And not everyone believes like we do...but we ultimately believe that she was chosen for us by God long before she was ever created. We believe He knows where all the babies belong and in her case...she was created before my husband and I ever met....she was just waiting for us and it is soooooo awesome how she is a perfect match for us and our family when we put forth no criteria when we were seeking to adopt embryos.
    I know this is a really tough decision for some...but for us,...it was soooo easy. We just had faith it would all work out like it should...and it is.


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