WHERE IS A JEWISH BLESSING LOCATED?
A Jewish Blessing, LLC’s main office is located in Jacksonville, Florida. However, our invaluable staff works from several locations including Florida, Oregon, Kansas, and Israel. We are honored to have an opportunity to help Jewish families worldwide and to accept the help of Jewish donors residing all around the USA, Israel and Canada. And so we are forever grateful for the modern advances such as cell phones, PC’s and Skype which have enabled us to help our families no matter where they are located and no matter where we are located when they need us.
DOES A JEWISH BLESSING COMPLY WITH THE ESTABLISHED MEDICAL ETHICAL GUIDELINES? A Jewish Blessing adheres to all American Society of Reproductive Medicine guidelines, the guidelines established by the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) as well as to the FDA regulations. We also adhere to our own stringent guidelines for collection of a detailed and complete family medical history and Jewish history on each and every donor we accept. We believe that every family who comes to us for help deserves this.
There is a one-time fee of $180 to join A Jewish Blessing, LLC. Please note that other upgraded and individualized services are available as well. You will receive an in depth educational consult (which generally lasts 1-1.5 hours) and will be given access to our donor database upon receipt of your Intended Parent intake forms and completion of your initial consult. Your consult will cover critically important issues including what you can expect to find out about your donor, how to best ensure that your journey is a successful one, decreasing the risk of consanguinity and more; you will also have an opportunity to discuss the issues that are most pressing to you at this time, including "Am I ready to take this next step forward? ", "How do I increase my chances of a successful outcome?", "What should I focus on when looking for my donor?", "Should I be thinking about a shared cycle?", "Do I want to share this information with my child or not?", "Am I too old to do this?" etc.
Although we do not to offer financing to our families we have established a Tzedakah fund, which is available to families who need our help. We are acutely aware of the incredible financial hardship that this journey imposes on our families. It is my dream to win the lottery so that I can remove any fees that A Jewish Blessing has had to impose in order to be able to continue our work in the community; we are painfully aware of the fact that this often makes the process even harder for you. In the meantime, while I wait for that, I am honored to help you, even if just a little bit, through our Tzedakah fund. We know that there are financial institutions that provide loans to patients seeking to finance their infertility treatments; please visit our resources tab for more information. Lastly, we will continue our efforts within the Jewish community to establish more funding for the families who find themselves in this difficult situation.
Our donors receive a base compensation of $9,000. At times, due to a donor’s special need, she will approach us with a request for a higher compensation. Repeat successful donors may also ask for a higher compensation rate.
Though we strongly believed in and adhered to the ethical guidelines set forth by ASRM and SART that payments to donors in excess $10,000 were not appropriate this guideline has unfortunately been removed as of 2016 due to a class action lawsuit by donors against the ASRM.
The reality is that there is no amount of money in the world that would be “enough” thanks to a young woman who has given this extraordinary gift of life to a family but we discourage higher compensations because we fear that they increase the possibility that a donor may be coerced into donating because of financial need. Additionally, we discourage higher compensations because we understand that this would place an even larger financial burden on our Intended Parents and, in some cases, might mean that a family will not be able to afford this wonderful treatment option.
We are deeply committed to helping a young woman who is considering this particular act of kindness carefully consider whether this will ultimately be in her best interest. I am the first one to counsel a young woman who is considering giving this gift that if her primary driving motivation is financial need then she should not donate her eggs. More so, if we feel, after speaking with a donor candidate, that her sole motivation is financial, or if we feel that she has not demonstrated sufficient maturity to truly examine the far-reaching implications of her decision then we will gladly turn a “great donor” away. The thought of a young woman with financial need being coerced by substantial compensation to donate, only to live to regret it at a later point in her life, is disturbing to those of us who respect and care about these wonderful young women. Also, as a woman who values every human being I believe that each young woman who possesses the kindness and compassion to extend her help to a family in such an selfless way deserves equal compensation, regardless of her title, IQ, SAT scores, GPA, degree, social status, ancestry, beauty or previous history of a successful cycle. We do not believe in the commonly held practice that one donor is “worth more” than another.
Our donors are between the ages of 20 to 32 years old. If a donor candidate who you have an interest in is not yet 21 years old then you will need to ask your center if they are agreeable to working with her. Also, we have found that centers vary in their donor age policies and so it is a good idea to check with your center before beginning your search to see what their recommendations are.
HOW MANY TIMES CAN MY DONOR DONATE AND SHOULD I BE WORRIED ABOUT MY CHILD ACCIDENTALLY MEETING GENETIC “SIBLINGS”? According to the recommendations of the ethical and medical experts in the field it is advised that a donor donate (only) up to 6 times. While this number of cycles may not present a significant statistical risk that genetically related “siblings” might accidentally meet (consanguinity) we are well aware of how exquisitely small the Jewish community is. So that even if you choose a donor who lives across the country from you (or even in a totally different country) we recognize that due to the size of our community, the potential for multiple donations and the fact that our children will likely all one day enjoy their Birthright trip to Israel the risk within the Jewish community is (in my humble opinion) a real one.
It is our hope that you and your beautiful children will be able to move forward in life without additional worries; to this end A Jewish Blessing will only work with donors and Intended Parents who agree to sharing the names, dates of birth and sex of all children born to them. We have committed to sharing the non-identifying information (DOB and sex of child) with all parties who have a shared genetic relationship. This information will be provided to you upon request.
DOES A JEWISH BLESSING HAVE AN ON-LINE DONOR DATA BASE?
Yes, we do and here is the history of our donor database. A Jewish Blessing, LLC was established in 2005 and not until almost 2011 did we create an on-line donor database. In our early years we were often asked to join the ranks of the many agencies who post their donors in this fashion and we strongly resisted; we felt deeply that creating a database might not only jeopardize the privacy and confidentiality of our donors (the Jewish community is, in fact, very small and we fear that someone might find their best friend’s niece, or even their own niece while scrolling through photos and profiles). We also felt that to place donors on this sort of a site felt disrespectful to our wonderful donors and perpetuated a “meat market” environment.
Despite the impression that some might have, that the driving motivation that a young woman has in doing this Mitzvah for a family in need is financial, we have come to know our donors and to understand that this desire to help comes from a genuinely altruistic place.
We have the deepest respect for our donors and a sense of awe at the generosity of spirit that each one of these wonderful young women possesses. Most of all we have incredible gratitude to each one of these women who has so selflessly offered this miraculous gift to so many of our families and who have changed their lives in indescribable ways. All this being said, after almost 6 years of soul searching over this issue, we came to the decision that to create an on-line database would not only be incredibly helpful to our families in finding their donor more quickly, it would also help our donors be found by the family meant to benefit from their gift.
In an attempt to decrease our concerns and to protect the privacy of our donors (and their families) access to our database (via a protected password) is provided to Intended Families only after their initial consult has been completed, and the Intended Parent intake forms and confidentiality contract have been submitted. We thank you all for your sensitivity to our concerns and for your respect towards our truly special donor candidates.
We are proud to share that our donor candidates are some of the most comprehensively pre-screened candidates you will have the pleasure of seeing. As medical professionals we are passionate about providing our Intended Parents with as thorough and complete a family medical history as possible. Each of our donor candidates goes through a rigorous 3-6-month process wherein we work hand in hand with her and her family members to gather the detailed family medical history which we feel that our intended families deserve.
The answer depends on when you are ready to proceed. All of our donors are wonderfully active and busy young women. Some are students, many are career women, some are mothers and some are all of the above, and so a donor will be re-contacted for her scheduling needs once we hear from you that you have an interest in asking for her help. Some donors may be currently helping another Intended Family, but may be available later for a future donation. We are always happy to approach a donor on your behalf to ask if she would like to donate to you once she completes her current cycle.
It is our belief that every young woman who has made the extraordinary decision to give this potentially life altering gift to a family has the right to share with us the qualities that she would like to see in that family who is receiving her gift. A donor candidate, for instance, may feel most comfortable offering her gift to a married couple, or to a family who will raise the child in the certain way when it comes to Jewish upbringing. So please check in with us once you have found a donor who interests you and we will let you know if the match suits you both. Our donors are given no identifying information about their Intended Parents; rather they have composed a wish list for us to let us know where their level of comfort lies. You are also very welcome to ask us in advance which donors would be comfortable donating to you so that you can avoid disappointment.
We are here to support what you want and need. If a shared cycle is what you have decided will be best for you (even after considering the following facts), then we are happy to help make this happen for you.
While we are aware that shared cycles are commonly done at many centers (in fact, it is often strongly encouraged), it has been our experience that sharing your donor’s eggs with a second family often drastically reduces your chances of success. We acknowledge that at first glance it looks like a great idea. It appears to be a much less expensive option at face value but often turns out to be much costlier. Once the shared cycle is completed a family will often find themselves with only a few frozen embryos (because half the eggs went to another family, and perhaps they chose to do PGS on their embryos). In the event that, God forbid, the first transfer was not successful then being left with no remaining frozen embryos means beginning from scratch. Also, if a family is blessed with a child from their first shared cycle then they might find themselves, a few years down the road, wanting to expand their family, only to then be faced with the disappointment of learning that their previous donor is no longer available and that to have a second child means considering a different donor, in addition to the huge financial burden of a fresh donor cycle. I do need to point out that even a cycle in which you receive all your donor’s eggs does not guarantee that you will end up with the perfect number of embryos; it simply increases the odds that you will.
Please know that there never will be only one correct way to approach this search. You are unique in your own right (thank God) and so it is important for you to carefully reflect on what will truly be best for you as you embark on this life altering journey. What is right for someone else does not mean it is right for you. More than anything I encourage you to approach this search with a massive amount of patience for yourself; again, this is, like everything else in life, a journey, likely not one that you have taken before. And so, you can expect that it will elicit emotions that might surprise you, upset you, excite you, or create tension in your relationship…. Loving patience towards yourself (and towards your partner) is the gift you deserve. I have worked with families who have seemingly sailed through the process and found this choosing of a donor apparently easy. Others have taken a longer and much more painful road to the joy. What has been universal, though, for each and every family who has so generously shared this experience with me has been the joy of falling in love with their child, the one who was meant to come into their life. And so, a few of the issues that you might want to carefully think through are the following….
Yes, we do share donor photos if you decide that you would like to see them; but I would love to share the following food for thought. Although it is incredibly common nowadays to have photos of the donor candidates to look at (which might leave you with the impression that to not look would be “wrong” or make you a weirdo) I am inclined to “challenge you” to really think this issue over carefully. Please rest assured that we gladly share donor photos with you but I encourage you to take the time to reflect upon what will ultimately be best for you, both now and once your child arrives. Although your gut feeling at this very moment might be that you must, of course, look at a donor’s photos in order to decide if she is the right one for you, I have discovered that for some reason families who do not look at photos seem to have a much easier time figuring out which donor candidate really feels like the right fit. And so, I ask you to consider this; will a photo of your donor truly and genuinely enhance your ability to move forward in peace or will looking at a photo of your donor leave a permanent imprint on your mind which will somehow intrude once you move forward to the joy of loving, nurturing and raising your child/ren?
The nature in all of us is to look at our children and to wonder who they look like. There is little that we can do to change this innate and wonderful sense of curiosity. In fact, I have spent the past 30 years scratching my head in wonder over where the fascinating combination of unique features in each of my 3 children came from. I still don’t know, I am still fascinated and I continue to wonder.
I have come to understand that often there exists a fantasy that your child will somehow emerge as a miniature version of the donor who has given this gift to you. Chances are that no one donor candidate will look exactly like your twin or like your sister; but even if your donor did miraculously look just like you then it, in reality, means little in terms of what your child will look like.
What your donor will ultimately bring to you is an entire vast array of possibilities; a mix of generations of unique individuals with a wonderful rainbow of colors, sizes, shapes, interests, talents. Add to this mix your “other half” whether your partner, husband, sperm donor and viola! We have a child who is absolutely unique; a one and only little miracle but without a doubt yours to fall madly in love with.
Mind you that I am not for one second suggesting that you need to decide to not look at photos. I am merely suggesting that you consider the options carefully; the rest of the world might be pouring over 100’s of donor photos and maybe this is the decision that will ultimately be the right one for you. But you deserve the time to reflect upon this; especially when the egg donor “industry” has set the standard for this, making it appear as if viewing donor photos is the only way to go.
I have found that families often contemplate this idea when trying to decide how to best approach this often-overwhelming decision of choosing their donor. And so I would encourage you to examine this desire (if you have it) from all angles. Although it might feel right to you to meet your potential donor at this very moment will it still feel right once your child arrives? Or will the encounter leave an indelible imprint that might somehow infringe on your personal and sacred space with your child? Or will deciding to never “meet” your donor or communicate with her leave you feeling that you have less to share with your children later on should they like to hear about her? I am always here to explore this issue further with you if you’d like.
It is important to point out that a decision to “meet” a potential donor candidate might decrease the number of potential candidates who you can choose from; not all candidates are comfortable becoming a “known” donor or with the idea of having personal contact. And many donors will be happy to have an opportunity to “meet” you or communicate with you. Also, I have found that a family who wants to meet or communicate with a donor is of the mindset that this will allow them the ability to better judge if the donor is really the right one for them; they seldom realize that they have opened the door for the donor as well to make this decision for herself. And so there have been incidents when a family has decided that they would like to communicate with a donor who they really like only to then find out that the donor has decided that the fit is not right for her.
If, after examining this issue carefully, you have come to the conclusion that meeting your donor is what will ultimately be best for you and your child then please let us know. We will gladly help you make arrangements for a meeting (either via Skype, phone or face to face). The cost of this service is $360.
Other forms of contact are also possible such as sending email communications through A Jewish Blessing (we cut and paste well). Again, please know that I am here to discuss and explore with you what might be best for you if you are still not sure.
HOW WILL I REALLY KNOW IF A DONOR IS THE RIGHT ONE? WHAT IF I CHOOSE THE WRONG ONE? I have always been convinced that if you could simply listen to your heart then you would know who the right donor is; the issue at times, though, is how to clear all the rest of the static away so that you can “listen to your heart”. Even if you have decided to look at photos (after all it’s so hard not to!) I am still a strong believer in the virtue of first reading through a donor’s profile. It will be much easier to know if she feels right on every other level…because, once viewed, the photos will likely make the listening much more of a challenge. I recently spoke about this to one of my families who said “yes, but whose heart should we listen to if we can’t agree”? I laughed. Great question; I have certainly seen this issue come up and as I mention it requires patience (and love) to come to a peaceful decision. I am here for you should you come to this crossroad without a solution.
I also believe that truly accepting the fact that (in the very big picture) this is ultimately “out of our hands” is also an important, calming and very helpful step in helping to lighten the heavy load of coming to this decision. I have witnessed my families be led to their donors and would be very happy to share some of these miraculous stories with you if you’d like to hear more.
I am exquisitely aware of the fact that making a decision as potentially life altering as which donor is the right one for you can be incredibly anxiety provoking in and of itself; I strongly believe that you deserve to have the time to calmly make a decision about a candidate that you like without feeling panicked that she will be "snatched up" by someone else while you are thinking it through. In an attempt to alleviate some of this angst (which I share with you because we have more than one family asking for our help and contemplating the same candidates) we have instituted a "Hold" policy which works as follows:
A donor candidate can be placed on hold for a full week (with a maximum of a 2 week hold) for $250 per week. If you decide to move forward with this donor then the money will be directly applied to the AJB match fee. I am really hopeful that this option offers you the time that you need to think your decision through and helps you maintain a sense of calm as you move through the process.
Although in most cases this is, thankfully, not what happens there is certainly always the chance that a cycle will not go as hoped for and that your donor will not successfully make it to retrieval (i.e. a donor can fail her testing or might have a problematic response to her stimulation medications). We understand how incredibly devastating this sort of news can be to a family who has already been through so much. Although, unfortunately the money that a family has spent up until this point (on the donor testing, on medications, on travel, on the medical care that has been provided etc) is not money that can be recouped, the money that has been paid to A Jewish Blessing as a match fee will be applied in full towards providing you with a new donor.
A donor who does not pass testing receives no compensation, despite her emotional investment, her time or her energy. She is, however, reimbursed for anything she has paid for out of pocket during the testing phase i.e. mileage, parking, birth control pills. This money will be taken from the donor funds account that you have set up with us. In the event that the cycle is cancelled after your donor has initiated her stimulating medications but before her retrieval (i.e. due to an inadequate response) then as long as she has followed your doctor’s instructions she shall be compensated a total of $500 if the cycle is cancelled up to day 5 of stimulation medications, a total of $1000 if the cycle is cancelled from day 6-10 of stimulation medications and a total of $1500 if the cycle is cancelled after more than 10 days of stimulation medication. She will not, however, receive the full compensation.
From the time of your match to your actual cycle and embryo transfer will generally take approximately 2-4 months. Several factors play into this time line, including the specific protocol that your center of choice has designed for completing the testing process and for setting up the cycle calendar, as well as blackout dates provided by your IVF center, or by your donor.
DOES A JEWISH BLESSING ALSO OFFER THE OPTION OF USING BANKED (ALREADY FROZEN) EGGS?
Founded in 2013 in collaboration with Pacific Northwest Fertility located in Seattle, WA the creation of A Jewish Blessing's Frozen Egg Bank was born out of our desire to help our Intended Families find more affordable options while on this journey to blessings. If you would like to learn more about this option of care, please let us know and we will be happy to email you with further information.
NOW THAT YOU HAVE ANSWERED ALL THESE FAQ’S DO YOU HAVE A FINAL MESSAGE TO ME?
Once the time comes, please never forget that this child would not have been born had it not been for your hope and your passion to make this happen (and, of course, if not for those powers that exist way out of our reach). I wish you all the very best on your journey. Please know that I am here to support and to guide you in any way that you need. May you be blessed in every way you have hoped and prayed for. Most of all, Lynn and I thank you for the honor of allowing us to help.