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By Robin von Halle

When most of us hear the phrase, “fertility vacation,” we think of a tropical destination where couples can get away from stress, relax for a week or two, and come home pregnant.

There’s been a lot of talk lately about another kind of fertility vacation, where intended parents travel to a more surrogacy- or egg donation-friendly state, or sometimes, to another country for in-vitro solutions to creating families. A CBC News article describes how a Canadian law prohibiting compensation for egg donors is driving couples across the border, taking their vacation time to work with agencies in the U.S.

In Canada, it’s not against the law for women to sell their eggs, only to buy them. That really limits a couple’s options: if in-vitro doesn’t work, and they can’t find a relative or friend to donate eggs without compensation, they are only left with adoption as a legal option.

Certainly, the U.S. isn’t perfect – several states don’t allow compensation for gestational surrogacy, including Indiana, Michigan and New York. Illinois, on the other hand, is especially surrogacy-friendly because, among other reasons, it allows intended parents to be on the baby’s birth certificate immediately following birth.

Until the overall environment becomes friendlier to egg donation and gestational surrogacy, a fertility vacation is an intriguing solution. Interestingly, we also are starting to get calls from couples from Australia and European countries with restrictive laws on both fronts who are looking to “vacation” in Chicago to get their fertility treatment underway.

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By Jennifer

When I was 19, I found out at a family party that my parents used a sperm donation to conceive me. My father had been in a motorcycle accident when he was young, leaving him sterile. I was so shocked and upset that I didn’t speak to my mother for two weeks. I eventually made up with her and pushed this “bombshell” aside.

The subject came up again during my third year in college. One friend was working for a law firm specializing in adoption and fertility agreements, and hearing about families in need of donor eggs made me start thinking about donating. I also discovered that another friend’s sister was an egg donor. In a way, it felt like I was coming full circle – I could help a struggling couple have a child, like the sperm donor did for my parents years ago. (Read one family’s journey through egg donation and surrogacy at Glamour.com.)

I did a lot of research to find out everything I could about egg donation. I asked my friend who worked for the law firm to recommend the best agencies to work with in Chicago. From those I selected ARR.

My first donation cycle took about eight months. Once I cleared the psychological and medical tests, I was ready to be matched. (The process reminded me of waiting to be picked for the fourth grade kickball team!) ARR matched me within a few weeks and the actual procedure was not as painful as I thought.

This was such an amazing experience. At first my family didn’t understand why I wanted to be a donor, but I was very open with them throughout the entire process. The more we talked, the more supportive they became. Since my first donation I’ve become and advocate for egg donation, and have completed a second donation cycle.

I don’t know if a birth has come from my egg donation, but I like to think it did. I hope I was able to give the same gift that someone gave my parents – the gift of a family.

Jennifer, 26, is a choreographer living in New York. She is a graduate of the University of Chicago.

Visit our Web site at www.arr1.com.

About Us

Conception Connections is a blog about alternative paths to family creation. It is maintained by Alternative Reproductive Resources. Contributors include intended parents, egg donors and gestational surrogates in addition to ARR staff. Our goal is to facilitate conversations about trends, issues, current events, technology and personal stories surrounding infertility, egg donation and gestational surrogacy. If you'd like to contribute, please e-mail shodge@hodgemediastrategies.com. We also welcome your comments and suggestions. Note: Comments are moderated and posted on approval.

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