I have been asked on several occasions about our EA journey and have responded individually to each one. Instead of continuing to do that I am going to post it here for everyone. Though EA has been around for years many people are unfamiliar with the process. First I will discuss the options available and then explain how we arrived where we are today. My research was done over a year ago so some it may have changed (prices at clinics, wait times, etc).
Donor couple: can choose an open or closed donation. (open-they can know the recipient family and have contact, see photos, etc/closed-little or no info).
Recipient couple: must have home study, can choose open or closed depending on what type of relationship that they want to have with the donor family.
The NEDC does that actual FET there. Couple have to travel to them 2 times, one for a consult, one for the actual FET.
Same as above except the embryos are shipped to the clinic of your choosing for the FET.
MW is unique in that it is just a way for donor and recipient couples to meet. You each can post a profile and if you find one that interests you, you send an email and take it from there. If a "match" is made (both couples agree) then a legal document is made for the "transfer of property" and the embryos are shipped to the recipient's clinic. MW is popular for several reasons: usually a shorter wait time, donor and recipients can develop a relationship before decision is made, much less expensive. The negative is that you do the leg work yourself and do not have a facilitator.
There are a few other places that act as a facilitator between donor and recipient couples. Embryo's Alive and Adoption From The Heart are two of them. They require home studies and offer open and closed donations/adoptions.
The last option is going through your local clinic which only provide anonymous donations and the information offered to donor families is nothing and varies for recipient families. My clinic gave us a complete health history as well as a description of the donor couple, though no identifying information of the donor couple. Some clinics only tell you the hair and eye color of the donor couple.
We took time to look into each option and originally chose the Miracle's Waiting route. We really wanted a relationship with the donor family and MW was the most affordable way to do this. There is no cost to the donor family on any of these options, but they vary greatly for the recipients. The NEDC starts at $8000 plus $2500 for the home study. The cost is higher if you want an open donation. Snowflakes is similar in costs, though it can be less expensive depending on your clinic fees for the FET. MW is the cost of the FET (varies by clinic) and meds and shipping of embryos and any legal fees. The shipping is about $300 and legal fees $200. For us it would have totaled $4500, much less than the NEDC. We joined MW and while waiting for a match I scheduled consultations with the two local clinics that would use donated embryos. During one of the consultations the RE told me that they had available embryos if we wanted to use them and we prayed about it and decided to go this route. It was $4000 and the wait was about 1 month. I would have preferred to have a relationship with my child's biological family, but felt that God had opened this door and He wanted us to give these embryos a chance at life. The couple had 6 embryos and 2 were thawed for our FET. Sadly, one did not survive the thaw so another one was thawed. These two were transferred and one is now our little bambino!
I hope that this helps some of you understand it better as well as help you to make a decision in your own journey. If anyone has any questions please feel free to ask!