Embryo Adoption: Is It Legitimate?

Adoption professionals correctly point out that in traditional adoption there are seven core issues: loss, rejection, guilt/shame, grief, identity, intimacy, and control. Do these issues apply to the adoption triad [child/placing parent/adopting parent] only when the child being adopted is already born, or do they also apply to children adopted nine months earlier than ‘normal’?

By scientific definition, human embryos are human life. They contain the full complement of chromosomes that will become a living human being given the right environment and nutrients to survive. Over the past four decades, medical science has been assisting people with infertility through the process of in vitro fertilization. Often, more embryos are created than are used by the family for having children. The result? Now over 1,000,000 embryos are cryogenically stored in clinics and cryo-banks throughout the U.S.

If these remaining embryos are donated to another family to help them have children isn’t it logical to call the process adoption? After all, the result of the process is to give birth to a baby, not genetically related to the adopting family, which is the generally accepted definition of adoption. There are three parties involved, the child, the people with the remaining frozen embryos and the people who want to use the embryos for pregnancy; baby, placing parents, adopting parents. This is the well-researched adoption triad.

Each of the people involved in the use of donated embryos will experience the issues identified in the first paragraph to one degree or another. Helping these people with the social and emotional impacts of placing and receiving embryos for pregnancy is the realm of the adoption agency professional.  The best practices of adoption are researched, established and appropriately applied.

For some reason the same fear of the term embryo adoption does not attach to the process of pet adoption, adopting a highway or adopting someone else’s views as your own.

Of course, there are legal differences between traditional adoption and embryos adoption. Of course, it is different to place an embryo than to place a child who has been born. Of course, there are different needs by the donating family and the adopting family. However, the answer is to not ignore what we have learned in analogous situations, but to apply what we have learned to new opportunities to build families. That is a win-win-win solution. The placing family has a life solution for their remaining embryos. The adopting family has a much-desired baby. The baby gets to be born!

Learn more about embryo adoption at www.EmbryoAdoption.org.