Breaking down egg donor contracts

Once you’ve matched with an egg donor, you’ll be expected to first sign an agency agreement. Following the donor’s medical screening at your clinic, you’ll go through the legal contract negotiations.   

What’s the difference between an agency agreement and an egg donor contract?

The agency agreement is usually signed when you’ve decided on a donor agency you’d like to work with. The agreement says that you’ve decided to work with that specific agency, and often will reflect which donor you’re planning to match with. It sets out the payment schedule and any refund policy.  

After the agency agreement is finalized, you will sign the egg donor contract between you and the donor. You will not need to meet the donor nor will the donor know who you are. 

Top Tip: Your clinic usually requires a signed agency agreement before your donor can be scheduled for any genetic testing. 

What happens if my donor match falls through?

The agency agreement may state that you may choose another donor from the agency and apply the fees you have paid toward a new donor. You will want to ask if they will give you a refund of all or part of your fee if you can’t find another donor that you like in that agency. You will want to know how the agency will handle this before committing to work with the agency. 

What does the egg donor contract cover?

An egg donor contract sets out the rights, privileges and responsibilities of all the parties involved. Your donor is promising to be committed to the donation process as outlined in the contract and waives her right to any eggs, embryos or future children.  The intended parents are also agreeing to comply with the contract and agreeing to compensate the donor for her time as she goes through stimulation and egg retrieval. 

As Richard Vaughn, Esq. 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 child(ren).”  

The contract will also cover things like expectations, future contact (or lack of future contact), exchange of medical information in the future if necessary, and disbursement of funds.  The legal contract ensures that all parties are in agreement and protected should any complications arise. It’s important for the donor to have her own separate attorney so that she has an advocate during the process. 

Once all contracts are signed, your attorney will issue a letter of legal clearance which will be sent to your clinic.  At that point, your donor can start the injectable medication for the egg retrieval on the schedule set by your clinic.

Will the contracts be anonymous?

Anonymity is something you may include in your contract with the donor.   According to Richard Vaughn, most egg donation agreements refer to the parties by either the first names in combination with the first initial of their last names, or by their first names in combination with an identification number. For example, you might sign the contract with only your first name and first initial of your last name, or with your first name and identification number. However, remember – in this age of proliferation of DNA testing/matching websites, online facial recognition and technological advances, there is no guarantee of anonymity in the future.  

What if I want future contact with my donor?

This is something you can stipulate in the contract.  You’ll want to think through what that means. Does it mean there will be an exchange of contact information? Yearly updates? A meeting?  Many parents want to know that their donor will be open to talking to their children in years to come or to provide updated medical information. These are all things you may want to consider before matching with a donor and you should discuss these thoroughly with your attorney. 

We need two attorneys?

Yes!  The donor will be represented by her own attorney. This is important!  One attorney will review the contract with you, and the other will review the contract with the egg donor. You’ll be responsible for the legal fees of both legal advisors.  Just remember – getting the legal issues hammered out at an early stage protects everyone.    

Go straight to the experts

Remember – the legal contract is an essential part of the egg donation process and requires expert advice.  This isn’t the place to try to save money.  Translation: Do not have your best friend/sister-in-law/neighbor who happens to be an insurance attorney to draw up the contracts. Reproductive law is highly specialized – but fortunately there are attorneys out there who specialize in assisted reproductive law who can help you prepare or review the egg donation agreement so that everything is covered.   

And remember, most agencies will recommend attorneys; but it’s up to you to decide who is right for you. You’re under no obligation to work with an agency attorney but do make sure the attorney you do work with is an experienced assisted reproductive law attorney.  

You can contact Richard Vaughn at info@IFLG.net or at  http://www.iflg.net. 

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