If embryos are considered property and not human life in the United States, why is an embryo adoption home study required by some agencies and fertility clinics?

The simple answer is that requiring a home study as part of the embryo adoption process follows the best practices of adoption.

Regardless of whether government entities recognize or regulate the adoption of embryos, the end result is that a child will be placed with parents to whom he or she is not genetically related. This is the very definition of adoption! In any other type of adoption, whether it be international or domestic, a home study is required before an adoptive parent is approved to adopt. The home study involves several elements, including assessment, education, and preparation. It also provides peace of mind to the placing parents involved. It stands to reason, then, that those who are adopting embryos would be expected to undergo the same type of evaluation as those adopting infants or older children.

Contrary to what some may believe, the home study is not just the evaluation of an adoptive family’s living environment, nor is it a practice of checking off items on an arbitrary list of eligibility criteria.

Of course, the prospective adoptive family’s living environment is inspected, but this is a minor part of the process. The family’s financial situation; employment and education history; experience with caring for children; and mental, emotional, and physical health is assessed. Several references are provided and criminal and child abuse background checks are requested. Just as important as the assessment of the couple’s background is their preparation to adopt. The home study process involves education about adoption-related issues that is invaluable to both the family and the child(ren) they are adopting.

Many years ago, an adoptive parent who was anxious to move past the home study phase of her adoption asked me if the home study wasn’t just a formality. My answer, of course:  an emphatic “No!” The home study for embryo adoption, as in any other type of adoption, is an important part of the adoption process. It is not only the means for ascertaining whether the adoptive family is likely to provide a safe and loving upbringing for the child, but also provides education to prepare the adoptive family for issues related to parenting an adopted child.

To learn more about embryo adoption and donation, visit EmbryoAdoption.org.