Beverly Hills Egg Donation’s Robyn Perchik on the recruiting and screening process, determining the intended parent(s) criteria and insider tips
WHAT EXACTLY IS AN EGG DONOR AGENCY?
An egg donor agency recruits and screens egg donors with the ultimate goal of having a successful egg donation procedure and a resulting pregnancy. The egg donors provide the oocyte (commonly known as the “egg”), which provides half of the genetic material of the child. The intended parent(s) choose the egg donor. The donor goes through a cycle of medication to increase the yield of eggs. The eggs are then extracted during an egg retrieval, and fertilized in the lab (in vitro fertilization). The resulting embryo are then transferred to either the intended mother or surrogate five days later.
CAN YOU TELL OUR READERS ABOUT THE PROCESS?
The process is so personal—no two situations are alike. I have many people who want a donor who looks like they would fit into their family, that reminds them of a sister or a cousin. I have intended parents who want a “smart” egg, meaning that they are looking for an academic achiever. And then I have recipients who want an “athletic” egg, or a “musical” egg, and so on. The only commonality in the matching process is that no two people are making their decisions the same way.
My associates and I spend time with the intended parent (s) as early as we can in the process to determine what their criteria are, and to help them rank their criteria in terms of importance. We also try to manage expectations about which will be the easiest and hardest criteria to accomplish in the match process.
HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHAT IS A “GOOD FIT?”
As part of the matching process, we will arrange Skypes or meetings with the donor, if that is what the intended parent(s) want to do. Some of our clients want to be able to tell the child that they met the egg donor, others want to ask the donor to be open to meeting the child when they are 18.
In the last 8 years, we have seen more of a movement towards meeting the donor and opening up the idea of future contact with the donor. Especially in the LGBTQ community, the requests to personally interact with the donor before and after the egg donation process has become increasingly important. We have consistently worked with a large number of LGBTQ single parents and couples, split locally and internationally, who are desirous of keeping communication channels open for future relationships. Couples have met their donors in LA, NY or SF, all facilitated by BHED associates. One IP flew their donor to Europe after the child was born. WE have also seen more of a reaching out by donors to feel a connection with the intended parent(s). They will request a short email telling the donor about themselves, their interests, which really ends up with the donor being more content with helping someone. Then continue with,” a good fit is someone who has most , if not all of the donor criteria, and can responsibly get through the process”.
HOW MUCH DOES THE ENTIRE PROCESS COST?
Costs excluding medical costs and travel (if applicable) are $16,000–20,000 with donor fees at $8,000–10,000. Shared cycles, with a corresponding reduction in costs, are available at several clinics in CA. This also exclude costs for the surrogates.
ARE THERE ANY “INSIDER TIPS” REGARDING EGG DONATION?
When looking at egg donor agencies I would suggest to:
Ask if the agency is using international donors. We use donors residing in the US only, citizens or legally able to work in the US.
Pick an agency which has a contractual refund policy, many do not.
Ask the agency questions that will give you an indication of their charge structure-do they take a % of the donor fee (as well as the agency fee). Do they “mark up” travel, or provide it as a service at cost, do they collect receipts and reconcile the expenses. Are there surcharges for cycle coordination, what happens if you don’t have a successful pregnancy.
Your readers need to know that the lowest agency fee may not be the lowest price nor the best value.
HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN THIS FIELD?
My background is Insurance, Risk Management, with a law degree thrown in. I was an underwriter of commercial casualty insurance for Fortune 500 companies. An underwriter is akin to the quarterback on a football field, having to work with a lot of different customer service and legal/financial personnel to get to the goal. As I was thinking of retiring from the company that I worked with for 30 years (right out of college), I received an interesting phone call. The previous owner of BHED was going to sell the business, and a mutual friend who is currently in this field, facilitated my purchase of BHED, and entrance into this business. I have never regretted the career change.
WHAT IS YOUR CONNECTION TO THE LGBTQ COMMUNITY?
Connection with the LGBTQ community include family and friends on both coast in the US, and now, due to BHED, LGBTQ families in 17 countries from New Zealand to Norway, and every place in between. Visiting and keeping in touch with our LGBTQ families has been a very rewarding part of owning an egg donor agency. I love visiting with my international families in their home countries, and watch the children growing up.
For more info call: (310) 279-5272 or visit: www.bhed.com.