Written By: Hillary Redwine
Benefits of working with an agency versus a frozen egg bank
Egg donors today have many options when it comes to choosing who they want to work with for their donation cycle(s). There are agencies, fertility clinics with in-house donor programs and frozen egg banks, which typically split eggs from a single donor into multiple cohorts that are sold to different intended parents.
There are many benefits to working with an agency like Egg Donor Solutions (EDS), which matches intended parents with compatible donors to help them create their happy families. One of the primary benefits is that egg donors at EDS will have a direct legal agreement with their intended parents and the opportunity to consult with an attorney to ensure they understand and are comfortable with all aspects of the agreement.
Why choose EDS?
Attorney Lauren Gaydos Duffer has been partnering with EDS for nearly 10 years to draft legal agreements for donors and intended parents. She explains why it’s important for donors to work with a qualified agency.
“The protection an agency gives you cannot be replaced,” Lauren says. “When you go to a frozen egg bank, there is no direct communication or relationship with the intended parents. You lose the ability to have control over things that may be important to you, like the disposition off eggs and embryos, being notified when a child is born and future contact with the intended parents.”
Lauren adds that with a frozen egg bank, donors usually do not know how many intended parents receive their eggs or if they have children. “When working with EDS, you can specify that only those intended parents [the ones the donor matched with] may use your eggs and any embryos created from them. Or, if you are okay with the intended parents re-donating unused embryos, you can have a say in how it’s done. Do you want to be notified in advance and be informed if another family is created?” Those are all things a donor can request be included in the legal agreement.
Lauren shares that she enjoys working with EDS because of the agency’s ability to relate to both donors and intended parents. “One of things I love about EDS is that they have built a staff with people from both perspectives [former egg donors and intended parents]. They do a great job of educating both parties and understanding concerns from both sides because their team has lived those experiences.”
Katy Encalade, EDS Executive Director, adds, “We’re here to advocate for donors and intended parents, as well as the tiny humans who are created because of this process. When a donor expresses feelings a certain way, we are going to match her with intended parents who want the same things. We’re not going to match donors and intended parents with different philosophies on important issues because we want a successful outcome for everyone involved.”
Components of the legal agreement
No matter how a donor chooses to help create a family, Lauren recommends donors always have a direct legal agreement. At EDS, the process is very streamlined. Once the agreement has been drafted and reviewed by the intended parents with their attorney, it is shared with the donor and her attorney. Lauren says the donors she works with receive the agreement at least 24 hours prior to the consultation being scheduled to ensure they have ample time to review.
“During the consultation (which is done via phone or Zoom), we go over the agreement in detail to make sure the donor understands everything she is agreeing to and that everything she expected to be in the agreement is included. If there is anything that needs to be addressed, I make sure it’s taken care of before the agreement is executed.”
Below is an overview of what is covered in the legal agreement:
- Intent – The donor understands that she is donating her eggs for the intended parents’ use and will not be a parent to any children created from those eggs.
- Warranties and representation – The donor and the intended parents confirm the information they have provided during the egg donation process is true.
- Parental rights – The intended parents will be the legal parents of any children created, assuming all rights and financial obligations.
- Costs and expenses – The agreement will outline how all costs and expenses will be paid by the intended parents, including screening and testing, travel, the donor’s compensation, attorney fees and uncovered medical expenses for the donor in the event of a complication.
- Insurance – The intended parents will purchase a short-term insurance policy for the donor to cover medical complications.
- Dispute resolution – If a dispute arises from the agreement, both parties agree to mediation and arbitration to protect confidentiality.
- Future contact – There are many options for future contact that may be included in the agreement – from the donor being notified when a child is born to providing future medical or mental health information that could be applicable to a child to both parties registering with the Donor Sibling Registry.
- Disposition of eggs and embryos – This section outlines what will happen to any unused eggs or embryos. Options include donating them to another family, donating them to research or having them destroyed.
- Unused medication – The donor must return any unused medication and cannot sell it to a third party.
- Confidentiality – This section outlines the confidentiality agreed to by both parties and that neither the donor nor intended parents can share a copy of the agreement with anyone who is not directly involved.
- Lifestyle prohibitions – This section specifies activities the donor must refrain from during the egg donation cycle, including tobacco, drug and alcohol use, sexual activity, excessive exercise, travel outside her state of residence unless it’s to carry out requirements of the cycle, being in the presence of second-hand smoke, etc. It also stipulates that the donor must follow CDC guidelines related to COVID-19.
- Screening and testing – The donor agrees to medical, genetic and mental health screenings as required by the intended parents’ physician.
Advice for donors
Lauren encourages donors to take their time during the legal process and ask questions regarding anything they are unsure about.
“Everyone gets excited during this process, which is understandable. But when you rush to get things started, you don’t always take the time to step back and think about the practical aspects of what you are agreeing to,” Lauren says. “It’s important for donors to read through the agreement in full before the legal review and make sure they are comfortable with the agreement before signing it.”
About Lauren Gaydos Duffer
Lauren Gaydos Duffer is Co-Managing Partner of Gaydos Duffer, P.C. Lauren grew up in Arlington, Texas. She is the daughter of Joanne Gaydos and Larry Gaydos, a prominent attorney formerly with Haynes and Boone, L.L.P., and her current Partner at Gaydos Duffer, P.C. Lauren is married to Ronnie Duffer, the owner of Tarrant County Pools in Arlington, Texas, and is the mother of two adventurous, smart and talented sons, Blake and Brody.
Lauren received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Speech Communications from Baylor University. Lauren was a member of Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority at Baylor University. After graduating cum laude from Baylor University, Lauren returned to the Dallas/Fort Worth area and received her law degree from Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas.
Lauren has an extensive training and expertise in collaborative divorce, modifications, assisted reproduction, child custody, complex marital property division, pre- and post-marital agreements, and adoption matters. As a Family Law attorney, Lauren exhibits compassion and empathy to all of her clients who find themselves in difficult situations, while skillfully negotiating unique resolutions to meet her clients’ needs both in and out of the courtroom. For more information, visit www.gaydosduffer.com.
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