In 2002, I began to chronicle my adoption journey and created Forever Parents, a supportive online community for adoptive and waiting parents. Over the next year, we grew our support forums to include an adoption shop and a blog. Forever Parents stayed active, helping thousands of people for over ten years. I’m in the process of updating and moving all the posts to this blog, in the Forever Parents section. This post was originally published on September 13, 2011, by forum member, Keadie. In 2012 I adopted my two young grandchildren so you’ll see updated posts under this topic.
Technology is an amazing thing, isn’t it? It gets more amazing all the time. People with infertility problems have increasingly more options to build their families. One of those ways is through embryo adoption.
If you are physically able to carry a child or are planning to use a surrogate, then adopting embryos might be for you. Couples who have had in vitro fertilization, who have leftover embryos at a cryobank, now can donate them for other people to use.
This option not only frees one of the estimated 500,000 embryos in cryostorage to potentially grow into a child but allows other couples to experience pregnancy. It allows adopting couples to have some control over the prenatal health of their future child.
A downside to embryo adoption is that there is no guarantee that a child will be born, or born without birth defects, similar as it would be for any pregnancy.
Many states have some legal statutes with regard to embryos and/or surrogacy. Check to see what applies in your area and where implantation would take place, if different. Find out whether or not embryos are considered material property.
What is embryo adoption?
Typically, the woman who gives birth is considered the legal mother. Georgia is the first state to recognize adoption finalizations of embryos. Other states have not addressed the issue precisely. Expect the agency handling embryo adoptions to formally, legally document the exchange.
Bottom line, you want as much peace of mind as possible.
Embryo adoption typically requires a home study or dossier the same as if you were adopting an already born child. There are several agencies in the US that provide embryo adoption services. Each one has its own guidelines and requirements regarding anonymity or future contact, marriage status, and marriage length, surrogacy, religious preference, age limits, etc.
Embryo adoption process
You will be matched with a compatible donor couple who share your preferences and desired backgrounds. If you already know a couple who would be willing to release frozen embryos to you, you probably still need to seek legal/agency representation as applicable in your state(s), and quite possibly, have a home study done. Call adoption agencies and/or family law practitioners in your area to be directed to someone who can give you up-to-date, accurate facts.
As you look for an agency that you like, ask them about shipping procedures and participating medical practices as to the actual implantation procedure. Each one may have its own policies. Not all medical offices have cryo specimen storage at their facilities or have doctors who perform these specialized procedures.
It may be possible that part of the expenses of doing embryo adoption may be covered by your health insurance. On the flip side, the Adoption Tax Credit may not apply by way of the definition of an eligible child. Ask your tax preparer, a certified public accountant, or financial adviser.
Religious questions may come to mind with regard to embryo adoption. If this applies to you, talk to your clergy before proceeding.
As with all forms of adoption, look to read as much as you can. Become informed on the procedures, which agencies do them, applicable laws, the ethics and debates surrounding them, and what your rights are. There may be new information all the time, so continue to update yourself.
This blog topic is written only as a supportive guide: not to be used as a definitive source. Seek actual, applicable-to-you facts from the agencies that do embryo adoptions and apply your state’s laws. Read embryo adoption stories for others who have gone through it.
This is a new horizon as adoption as an institution enters the 21st century. What an exciting time to experience!
I’m way late to this post. I do just want to say thank you for mentioning and teaching about embryo adoption. I think it’s a great thing, for both sets of parents, and for the kid that might be born. There probably needs to be some new adoption language for embryo adoption (genetic family vs. birth family, for instance). Maybe that vocabulary could get a kickstart here!
Rose of Sharon says
We pursued embryo adoption even while we kept our foster care license open. It’s a good thing we did! Even though I had no health issue which could have prevented pregnancy, after 15 embryos, 4 attempts and thousands of dollars, we did not have a baby. I got pregnant and carried to nine weeks on my 3rd attempt, but the rest failed to implant. Thankfully we are adopting our boys via foster-care. Please remember with IVF that the best possible chances are no more that 50/50 with each attempt.
How do these parents tell their kids about this? It is really no different than being adopted considering the genes are not from those parents. What will the parents tell the children and how will they support their children if they want to know who their biological parents are? Often times with these ways of having children no one really asks those questions but they have to know the children will ask them. I say be prepared for that as well.
Mindy Koch says
Wow, I had now idea this was even an option. I also didn’t realize there are so many embryos frozen in cryogenic storage. My mind boggles at that. I am glad there is a solution where these embryos can go to families who choose to give them life.
How wonderful that there’s now one more way that people who want to be parents can realize their dreams. You did a nice job covering the issues involved.
Susan Critelli says
We have a friend who is now the mom of a great little boy who was an “extra” embryo left over after fertility treatments. I have no idea what the legal implications were, but I do know that she is thrilled to be his mom, and her friends who donated the embryo to her for implantation are overjoyed that their little one did not get thrown away or used for research.