The first step after matching with your egg donor is to prepare and sign the egg donation contract. This is a separate contract from the agency agreement which you sign once you’ve identified your egg donor agency. In this article we go over the most important provisions included in an egg donation contract, costs, timelines, as well as why it’s so important to have one.
An egg donor contract sets out the rights and obligations of all parties to the agreement. It also protects both sides. As Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) Attorney and Founder of International Fertility Law Group Richard Vaughn explains, “an egg donation agreement exists so that each party can state their intentions and acknowledge their legal responsibilities to one another. The agreement will also clearly state that the donor does not intend to parent any resulting child(ren) and does not wish to have physical or legal custody of any resulting eggs, embryos or child(ren).”
Every egg donation journey is unique – and this is reflected in the elements included in the egg donor contract. However, there are some main provisions that are important in any egg donation agreement. Let’s go over these one by one:
The egg donor agreement specifies that the intended parents have control over all eggs retrieved and the resulting embryos (if any). This means that the intended parents can decide how and when to use the eggs, including to have children through IVF, donate to someone else, or donate for medical research.
However, the intended parents agree to disclose any pregnancies or live births to the donor, if she inquires. In an anonymous egg donation, the intended parents and the donor can decide what they are comfortable with and this is then reflected in the agreement.
The intended parents and egg donor are bound to a confidentiality agreement – neither can disclose the identity of the other without consent.
This provision includes details such as the intended parents’ and donor’s availability, expected cycle dates, including deadlines for the egg retrieval, and provisions for a second cycle, if needed.
The donor travels to the intended parents’ fertility clinic, first for the medical screening and then for the egg retrieval. Monitoring is then done at a clinic close to the egg donor. The intended parents pay the egg donor’s and one companion’s travel expenses for the two fertility clinic visits.
The agreement includes a provision on the creation of an escrow account. The egg donor is compensated for her time (including any lost wages), effort and commitment and this is reflected in the egg donor fee. Some agencies pay a portion of the egg donor fee once the donor starts her fertility medications, with the rest being paid out five to ten days following the egg retrieval. Others pay the total amount post-egg retrieval. Travel costs for medical screenings, monitoring appointments and the egg retrieval are reimbursed separately against supporting documentation.
Even if the cycle gets canceled, the egg donor is still partially reimbursed. The amount depends on the stage the cycle got canceled.
Together with the egg donor, you will decide what kind of contact you want in the future. This provision is highly personal.
As Richard Vaughn notes, “if meeting in the future or having the possibility of future contact is desired, then before a match is made, you should make sure the donor knows this (or lists in her profile that she is open to this). If the donor agrees to your request, we will write the necessary language into the egg donation agreement.”
Research shows that telling your children they were donor conceived early and often is best. Our article How to Tell Your Children They Were Donor-Conceived lists helpful tips on how you can get the conversation started.
The egg donor is required to provide updated medical information if her health history changes. The sharing of medical information can be mutual (meaning that you’ll also provide updates about the potential child’s health) – or simply limited to the egg donor. This provision also includes information about the logistics of the information sharing, depending on the level of contact you both want/agree to.
The vast majority of egg donor cycles proceed smoothly – but egg donor contracts must cover any eventuality. As with any medical treatment, an egg donor cycle can also carry risks to the egg donor (ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome or complications during the retrieval, such as injuries to the bowel, bladder, uterus, ovaries or major blood vessels). As noted by Circle Surrogacy, “intended parents are responsible for purchasing medical insurance to cover the egg donor”. Coverage extends for up to four months from the first day the egg donor starts her medication.
As we’ve already noted, there are variances between egg donor contracts as this depends on your specific case. It’s important to consult with your fertility lawyer to see that what is important to you has been included and is thoroughly covered.
Once you have a first draft, read your entire contract word-for-word and make sure that you understand each and every provision. Egg donor contracts include important legal concepts that you need to get familiar with in order to truly understand your rights and responsibilities. Get in touch with your attorney if anything is unclear and ask as many questions as you need to.
Both parties are referred to by an identification number, rather than names. This ensures that both you and the donor remain anonymous.
That said, it’s important to note here that 100% anonymity can no longer be guaranteed. Any future child can easily discover their roots by registering on a DNA genetic testing website and taking a straightforward test. Colorado also recently passed a law banning anonymous sperm and egg donation, with others expected to follow suit. As emphasized by Gay Parents To Be, “it’s very important to establish how you will navigate your own relationship with the donor and with your future child before starting fertility treatment or attempting pregnancy”.
This may differ according to the fertility lawyer you’re working with, but generally:
This depends on the time it takes for you to revert with questions, comments, and requests for edits once you receive a first draft – as well as the time it takes for your egg donor to review the contract. On average, this process takes 2-3 weeks.
Intended parents pay the legal fees for drafting and negotiating the egg donor agreement as well as the egg donor’s attorney fees. This ranges from $500 – $1500. Our article An Overview of Egg Donation Costs provides a detailed breakdown of all the costs involved.
While less expensive in the short term, ART professionals advise against using a sample or template egg donor contract for your journey. Without the support of an experienced attorney, you may encounter difficulties when securing your parental rights as well as leaving you susceptible to life-long risks. As stated by Falletta & Klein, an ART Attorney “will draft a binding contract that caters to your unique circumstances, anticipates conflicts, provides clear resolutions, and protects you from unexpected legal problems after your baby is born”.
Egg donation is a treatment option for those struggling to conceive, who want to avoid passing on a genetic disease, and for singles and gay couples who know they cannot conceive on their own. However, as with other third-party family building options the process involves complex legal matters: a robust egg donation contract is a must. It’s important that you are surrounded by the right fertility providers, including an experienced ART attorney, who can help you successfully navigate the legal aspects of the process.
Are you looking for an egg donor? Our egg donor database features 10,000 egg donor profiles from 20 trusted egg donation agencies. You can sort by your favorites for the criteria that are most important to you (appearance, age, education, religion, reproductive history, costs, location, etc.), compare profiles side-by-side (including all associated fees) and easily connect with the agencies of the ones you’re interested in. And – if you need one-to-one help – our concierge is available to support and inform you as you search for your perfect match.
Find your ideal donor at www.gostork.com