Key Factors to Consider When Selecting an Egg or Sperm Donor

As technology has evolved and family dynamics and demographics have changed, the use of egg and sperm donors has gained in popularity. Although current culture makes choosing a donor seem like an easy process, there are in fact several aspects to consider before proceeding.

Anonymous Donor Versus Known Donor, or Something In-between

One of the first things to consider when choosing a donor is whether to use a known or anonymous donor. To help with this decision, it is important to take the time to contemplate the level of openness and/or commitment you are expecting from the donor.

A known donor is typically someone the intended parent(s) already know(s) such as a relative, friend, or acquaintance. This can often be someone who plays an important role in the life/lives of the intended parent(s). Using a known donor requires written agreements to clearly establish all parties’ intentions in proceeding with the donation and any involvement of the donor in the child’s life, including clarifying that the donor is not intended to have any parental rights, even if it is anticipated that the donor will have contact with the child in the future.

An anonymous donor is typically found through a sperm/egg bank or a donor agency and will not have any parental rights or be expected to be involved in your child’s life. A written agreement may also be required when working with an anonymous donor.

In choosing an anonymous donor, intended parents will have access to the medical history, genetic background, and physical characteristics of prospective donors to help in the decision-making process. It is important to note, as we reported last month, the popularity of DNA testing kits has changed the landscape for anonymous donors and donor-conceived children, and donor anonymity may be a moot point in the future. This, however, does not affect parental rights.

Many intended parents contemplate the possibility that their child(ren) may have questions about their donor in the future, and although they prefer to remain anonymous, intended parents may seek to establish some avenue for potential communication should their child(ren), and/or they themselves, have questions for the donor in the future. In these circumstances, the parties often create and exchange non-identifying email addresses with one another or register with a third-party service provider which stores their information and functions as a buffer, allowing for communication via usernames and online messages instead of communicating directly with identifying contact information.

In any case, whether a donor is known, anonymous, or something in-between, it is important to ensure all parties are clear on their intentions and respect the boundaries set by one another.

Choosing an Anonymous Egg or Sperm Donor

What qualities should you look for when choosing a donor? Iris Insogna, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist at Columbia University Fertility Center in New York City, tells Forbes that focusing on specific traits that might make a donor feel like a good fit is helpful in choosing. Health history, education, personality traits, and even physical appearance are all criteria to consider when choosing a donor. For some, hair and eye color or a donor’s height or build may be important, while for others, it may be a higher level of education or specific talents and hobbies that are the main interest. Dr. Insogna goes on to say, “There are lots of different types of traits that you can search for, and the ones that matter most are the ones you should prioritize.” It is okay to take your time with your search and weigh all aspects of prospective donors before deciding which donor is right for you.

Comparing Known and Anonymous Egg and Sperm Donor Costs

When considering the use of a donor, the cost is another important factor to keep in mind. Using a known donor can be less expensive, which is one of the main reasons intended parents often ask a friend or family member to be their donor. While friends and family members may choose to donate their eggs or sperm without compensation, the intended parent(s) will still incur costs associated with assisted reproductive technologies (ART), which may include psychological and medical screening costs, legal fees, and travel expenses, if applicable.

Using an anonymous sperm donor from a sperm bank can cost anywhere from $400 to $2,000 for a vial of sperm, according to Forbes, with many intended parents choosing to buy multiple vials from the same donor with the intention of having more than one child. Sperm banks, however, normally take responsibility for the cost of donor screenings.

The cost of using an egg donor can also vary. Forbes states that a frozen egg donor base cycle fee can range from $14,000 to $20,000, while a fresh egg donor base cycle fee can range from $27,000 to $47,000.

The FDA mandates that sperm banks and fertility clinics perform physical exams and infectious disease testing for donors, while the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) strongly recommends psychological and genetic screening, in addition to legal consultation, particularly in known donor cases.

This of course does not include the costs associated with in-vitro fertilization (IVF) or surrogacy, which both add to the total cost of family building through ART.

Legal Aspects of Choosing an Egg or Sperm Donor

At most fertility clinics, anonymous egg and sperm donors waive all parental rights and responsibilities when signing their medical consent forms and written agreements with intended parent recipients. This ensures that the donor will not have any parental rights or responsibilities for the donor-conceived child.

The rights of a donor, however, are more important to clarify with a known donor, who may have contact with the child and be in their lives, which is why it is important for all parties (intended parents and donors) to seek legal advice. Professional legal counsel with experience in assisted reproduction and parental establishment is essential in navigating the relevant legal issues, and legal documentation can define parameters when it comes to donor involvement.

A few things to consider in order to safeguard the legal rights of all parties involved include matters of communication, proper use of language, and financial responsibility. How much contact would you like your donor to have with your child? What are the donor’s intentions or expectations? Is it okay to send photos or letters to the donor? These are just a few questions to think about when considering using any type of donor but especially with a known donor. All agreements should be put in writing to ensure that all parties involved are aware of, and committed to, the terms of the arrangement, and to ensure that all parties’ rights, obligations, and protections are spelled out.

Origin Story for Donor-Conceived Children

Lastly, and yet one of the most important things to consider when choosing a donor, is the origin story you will tell your donor-conceived child. Of course, when and what you decide to tell your child is up to you, but studies show that donor-conceived children, who learn from an early age of their conception story, have less anxiety and depression. Susan Golombok, a professor at the University of Cambridge, who has studied modern methods of family formation for more than 40 years, tells Time, “We’ve found significant effects related to the age of telling. Those who have been told as young children were much happier and much more accepting of their conception story.”

In fact, the revelation of the truth later in a child’s life can cause distrust within the family. “People don’t like being lied to, so adults or adolescents who find out belatedly that they were the result of donor sperm or donor eggs think their parents have told lies for 15, 20 or 30 years, and so they think, ‘well, I can’t trust you,’” says Roger Cooke, an infertility specialist at Swinborne University, as we reported in 2022.

Donor-conceived children are innately curious about their origin story, and parent-led conversations about the donor at a young age should be simple, growing more detailed as the child becomes older and has more questions. The key concept here is to be thoughtful about this process and the story you have chosen to tell, while still being open and honest with your child.

In the end, the decisions to use a sperm or egg donor to build your family and choose which donor is best suited to play this critical role are as emotional as they are complex. There is no one right answer, as every intended parent’s path is unique. This process should not be rushed. Instead, take the time to learn about the donor process, carefully consider the factors that are unique to your family and your situation, and create a plan that will help ensure the best possible outcome for all parties involved. Regardless of the path you choose, whether you decide on donor anonymity or work with a known donor, be sure to protect your family’s future by formalizing your donor relationship with a legal agreement under the advice of an experienced fertility lawyer.

For more information, please contact our IFLG team.

Richard Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn is founder and principal of International Fertility Law Group, one of the world’s largest and best-known law firms focused exclusively on assisted reproductive technology, or ART, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, sperm donation or egg donation. Rich is co-author of the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” American Bar Association Publishing, 2017.

Peiya Wang
Paralegal (律师助理)

Peiya Wang joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2015, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases and provides translation services for many of IFLG’s international clients. Peiya moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a Master of Science degree in Global Studies and International Affairs in 2014. Peiya moved to Los Angeles in 2015, received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension, and obtained her second Master of Science degree in Legal Studies from Loyola Law School. Peiya relocated back to her hometown, Beijing, China in 2019 and works from IFLG’s Beijing office. When away from the office, Peiya is a dragon boat paddler and a ballroom dancer, where she favors Rumbas and Cha-chas. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.

Luis Sosa

Luis R. Sosa joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2016, where he enjoys pursuing his passion for family and reproductive law. While working toward his bachelor’s degree at Florida International University which he received in 2013, Luis worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for family law litigation firms in Miami and Washington, D.C. As a paralegal and case manager for IFLG, Luis, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, manages surrogacy, egg donation and other reproductive law cases. Luis has worked for IFLG in both Los Angeles as well as San Francisco, and is currently based in Dallas, Texas. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Toni Hughes

After receiving her B.S. in Business Management, Toni joined IFLG to pursue her dream of working in the legal field. As a Paralegal with over 10 years of experience in the assisted reproduction technology field, Toni is our Managing Paralegal, responsible for training and managing our paralegal staff. From drafting legal documents to assisting our clients with post-birth matters, Toni embraces the challenge of learning something new in this field each day. Besides spending time with her son, Jordan, Toni enjoys exploring new things, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and serving as a Youth Advisor for “Next Generation.”


Kim has over 30 years of experience in the legal field and has worked exclusively in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 1999. Kim is a senior case manager responsible for managing parental establishment cases and interacting with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorneys across the country. With three children of her own, Kim understands the importance of family and finds working in this area of law a rewarding experience.

Rich Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn combined his personal passion as a father of twin boys born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with more than 20 years of experience in business and technology law to build International Fertility Law Group. Today IFLG is one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focused exclusively on fertility law, helping thousands of intended parents through empathetic listening, compassionate guidance, and unmatched legal expertise. As an advocate for reproductive freedom, Rich also contributes his knowledge and time to improving the understanding and practice of ART law, most recently as a founder of and speaker at the first Cambridge University International Surrogacy Symposium held in June 2019, as immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, and as a popular presenter to law schools, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo

Elizabeth received her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University of Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, she continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained her Paralegal certificate. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and has been in the legal field since 2009. She is excited to be a part of the IFLG Team helping families realize their dreams.

Sunny Chien

Sunny joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2017, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s international clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from California State University of Los Angeles, where she graduated cum laude. Sunny is bilingual in English and Mandarin and has extensive experience as a legal assistant and paralegal at Los Angeles-area law firms. She is excited to be part of the IFLG team. In her spare time, Sunny enjoys spending time with her family and their dog, going to the beach, cooking, and being outdoors.

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Phone:  +1 323 331 9343

Email:  info@iflg.net

Website:  www.iflg.net

New York

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New York, NY 10017

Phone:  +1 844 400 2016

Email:  info@iflg.net

Website:  www.iflg.net

Molly O'Brien

Fertility law attorney Molly O’Brien began working in the field of assisted reproduction technology (ART) in 2005, at an egg donation agency and a surrogacy agency where she became familiar with all aspects of in-vitro fertilization, egg donation and the financial aspects of surrogacy. Since becoming an attorney in 2011, Molly has drafted and negotiated surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation embryo donation agreements for hundreds of her clients all over the world.

Phoebe Sadler

Fertility law attorney Phoebe Sadler has a background in family law and has been practicing exclusively in the area of assisted reproduction technology (ART) law since 2018.

Rubina Aslanyan

Rubina has an extensive background in the legal field as a paralegal in Family Law and has worked in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 2012. Her area of focus is in managing and assisting clients with surrogacy, egg donation, and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s domestic and international clients. During her spare time, Rubina enjoys spending time with her family and dog Bella, traveling and cooking.

Alexander Espinoza
Legal Assistant

Alexander joined IFLG as a legal assistant in 2019, where he manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases. Alex is bilingual in English and Spanish and has been in the legal field for 23 years. Alex is excited to join the IFLG team and pursuing his will to help others in the reproductive law process. In his spare time he loves spending time with his family and friends, being outdoors, road trips, loves music and dancing.

Cara Stecker
Senior Paralegal

After receiving her paralegal certificate in 2005, Cara began working in assisted reproductive law. During the fifteen years Cara has worked in this field, she has gained a wide range of experience and knowledge that she uses to help better assist clients and those involved in the assisted reproductive journey. Cara’s primary roles involve managing parental establishment matters and coordination with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorney network, drafting contracts and parental establishment court documents and providing support to other team members. Cara finds great joy in being a small part of a team of caring people who help others achieve their dream of having a family. In her spare time, Cara enjoys spending time with her husband and three children, watching her children play the sports they love, and she enjoys, running, cycling and exploring the outdoors in the sun.

Stephanie Kimble

Stephanie received her BS in History and Political Thought from Concordia University Irvine in 2015 and her Paralegal Certificate from University of San Diego later that same year. She has been working as a Paralegal since 2016 in Family and Reproductive Law. She is excited to be part of International Fertility Law Group working on managing Surrogacy, Egg donation and Parental Establishment Cases.

Trish Pittman
Assistant Financial Coordinator

With more than 20 years of experience in the field of accounting, Trish joined the IFLG team in 2019 as Assistant Financial Coordinator. Her client-facing focus at IFLG is to assist with all client trust accounting. Trish is the mother of two daughters and enjoys spending time teaching and learning new things from them. In her free time, she loves long walks in the park and reading suspense and mystery novels.

Katie Deaquino
Senior Paralegal

Katie is a Senior Paralegal with IFLG and has dedicated over sixteen years to the areas of surrogacy and reproductive law. She received her Paralegal Certificate from Coastline Community College and has worked with some of the top law firms in the assisted reproduction community. Katie is also a commissioned Notary Public. With IFLG, Katie manages Surrogacy, Egg Donation, and Parental Establishment cases and provides support to other IFLG team members. Katie truly enjoys helping others build their families through assisted reproduction and is thankful she has had the rewarding experience of assisting IFLG clients. Katie often spends her free time with her Husband, four young children and her bulldog “Bella”.

Elsa Jimenez
Legal Assistant

Elsa joined IFLG as a Legal Assistant in 2019, bringing more than 35 years of experience working in the legal profession (concentrating in tort and litigation matters). At IFLG she assists surrogates with their surrogacy and parental matters. The oldest of five siblings, born and raised in East Los Angeles to Mexican immigrant parents, Elsa loves “seeing the beauty of families forming” through assisted reproductive technology. She and her husband Carlos have four children and one grandson. Elsa enjoys jazz and ’80s music, being outdoors in nature, collecting teacups and tea pots, and spending time with her close-knit family.