Parents Enlist Egg Agents to Help Them Find The Most Desirable Donors

People enlist professional help when making all sorts of purchases — real estate agents to help with house-hunting, travel agents to help find the perfect cruise. So I suppose it was only a matter of time before we witnessed the rise of "egg agents," professionals on a mission to help would-be parents find egg donors with the hottest genetic code.

“We’re people who search high and low for women who have qualities that other people would desire,” Shellie Smith, founder of The Egg Donor Program in California, told TODAY. Desirable donors can make between $8,000 and $10,000 a pop.

But even getting through the initial application process can be quite an undertaking. Egg donor screenings require extensive info about things such as ancestry and family health history, which makes sense; but they may also ask about things like body type, hobbies, and college GPA.

Comparing the screening process for sperm donation and egg donation can be very telling. Eggs and sperm each contain half the genetic material needed to create an embryo, so one would think potential parents would be equally concerned with the qualities of both types of donors. But as Yale sociology professor Rene Almeling demonstrated in her book Sex Cells: The Medical Market for Eggs and Sperm , the markets are vastly different in a way that reflects stereotypical assumptions about gender roles. For instance, sperm banks often require men to have a college degree, though egg agencies don't; egg donors, meanwhile, are often subjected to more rigorous scrutiny of their looks.

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