Why Egg Donor Agencies Should Stop Targeting Single Women on Dating Sites
Not only is it rude, it's risky business
Over the past five years, the online dating industry has grown from a $900 million business to nearly that of $2 billion—numbers that aren't so surprising when you consider the bevy of television commercials boasting real-life happy couples that claim to have only met because of the Internet.
Whether they're dancing to Natalie Cole's "This Will Be" for eHarmony, or sharing adorably awkward moments over dim-lit first date dinners for Match.com, the pairs are (meant-to-be) proof that you too can find success when searching for love online.
And with as many as 25 million people a month seeking matches online, it's clear the commercials are working.
However, what single women aren't likely expecting when signing up, is to be solicited for their eggs. Yes, of the ovarian nature.
Dating site SugarDaddie was recently duped by an egg donor agency that created fake profiles posing as older men and then, upon making contact with nearly 120 women, propositioned them to donate their eggs to an infertile couple for money.
The site identified the fake profiles after being alerted by members, but it seems founder and CEO Steve Pasternack didn't find the news as alarming as some members did. "Female members are natural targets for egg brokers, since many of them are young, well-educated and physically attractive," he told Female First.
While those qualities are all, of course, coveted, is it fair that single women be solicited simply because of their romantic status?
Relationship expert Jacqueline Nichols, founder of Intuitive Matchmaking LLC, says no.
"While donating eggs to a couple who is unable to conceive is a wonderful gift to give, I do not agree with this [manner of solicitation]," said Nichols. "It's an insensitive reminder to a woman that her own biological clock is ticking. She's already in a vulnerable place by exposing her emotional heart on an online dating website, and if the company convinces her to donate her eggs, she may end up regretting that decision because she was responding from her practical side, and eventually her emotional needs will catch up with her."
Indeed, women who date online tend to be more vulnerable, possibly flanked by insecurity as, on average, they claim to weigh 8.5 pounds less than they actually do, and often post pictures taken more than a year earlier.
In addition, egg donor agency's schemes may also bring legal trouble, says Lisa Tose, an attorney who specializes in family law.
"When recipients and donors contract privately, they may lose the rights and protections afforded by the assisted human reproduction laws," said Tose. "Those laws were established to distinguish that parents will have legal and ethical responsibilities to the children, and donors will not. Without having the protection of the laws, or a properly drafted agreement from an attorney, the parties risk facing costly and emotionally-damaging litigation over custody, access and support of the child."
Tose adds that there are other red flags to watch for, too.
"In cases where financial gain is the donor's primary or exclusive motive, we ought to be particularly cautious that the donor has had the opportunity to seek both support from a health and legal counsel," Tose said. "All too often when there is a great financial need on the part of the donor, the process may be rushed and important details may be ignored. This can lead to serious problems in the future."
And ultimately, dating websites are not about the futures and outcomes for people wanting to be parents, but about those of people wanting a romantic partner, and that should be respected, said Nichols.
"Approaching a single lady on a dating site requesting her eggs is distracting her from her priorities, and disrespecting her personal—and often very private—journey," said Nichols. "Women have enough obstacles on their journey to find love, enjoy love, and keep love; they don’t need an outside influence pushing their own agenda."