Breaking Down a Donor Family’s Health History

Last week, we talked about PGD and PGT-A testing, how it can produce inaccurate results, and that it has not been shown to improve pregnancy success. Because of this, most embryo adoption agencies have policies against disclosing results of previously tested embryos and future testing to determine which embryos to transfer.

In lieu of test results, these programs will usually give extensive health histories of the embryo donors, any children born from the embryos, and updated health information in the future (if an open communication agreement is made). Your agency will give you some time to think about what aspects of the donor family’s health history you are open to and to rule-out what features you are not comfortable with.

However, just as PGA/PGT-A tested embryos do not guarantee disease-free children or even pregnancy, the same is true regarding placing families’ medical backgrounds.

If you are open to a certain placing family medical history, this does not guarantee your child will be prone to these conditions.

The placing family may share that one of their children born from the embryos were diagnosed with ADHD, or dyslexia, or a sensory disorder. Or maybe it was a weightier diagnosis, like autism. Some adoptive families automatically assume their future child will face the same diagnosis, which is simply not true.

Think about your own medical background and the health histories of your family members. Maybe your parents are prone to certain conditions which your doctors are not worried about you developing. If you have biological siblings, you obviously do not have the same health histories even though you have similar genetics.

This is true for more serious diseases as well, like cancer. Or even certain mental illness, like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia.

Another benefit about working with an adoption agency, such as Snowflakes, is that you have the ability to have a “pre-check” about a match before it is officially made. This means the agency will discuss with you the particulars of a placing family’s medical history before presenting the match and determine if you are comfortable moving forward.

For example, maybe the placing family in this situation had a great-uncle who was diagnosed with schizophrenia. You can think about and discuss this potential match before you commit to it, and even have the ability to ask the placing family questions (mediated by the agency). You can find out more information on the great-uncle: his past treatment, his functionality, and prognosis. And hopefully that information will help you more easily decide on whether to move forward with the match.

Again, we understand there are some facets of placing families’ medical backgrounds with which you will never be comfortable matching. An adoption agency or clinic donation program will never force a match upon you that leaves you uneasy. Armed with this information, however, you may be more open to certain embryos than you were at the beginning of your embryo adoption journey.

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