November 25th is Embryo Adoption Awareness Day! A day that is dedicated to giving families each option and every hope in regards to their family building choices through embryo adoption or donation.

What is embryo adoption and donation?

Embryo donation and adoption is a form of third-party reproduction in which unused embryos remaining from one family’s in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatment are donated to a recipient family. In the United States, there are over 1,000,000+ embryos in frozen storage. These embryos are either unclaimed (or abandoned) or the families have not yet made the decision of what to do with them.

If the family chooses to donate these embryos to another family, the placing family is giving someone else the potential to experience pregnancy and the birth of a child. The resulting child to the recipient family is, by definition, an adopted child!

Why would a family choose to donate or adopt embryos?

Donating your remaining embryos to a recipient family may be a great option for you if:

  • You are not able to use your embryos yourself, but you do not want to discard them or donate them to science.
  • You wish to give your embryos a chance at a full life for which they were created.
  • You wish to help another family experience pregnancy and build their family!

Adopting donated embryos may be a great option to build your family if:

  • You have an infertility diagnosis.
  • You are at a high risk of passing on a genetic disorder to biological children.
  • You have had recurrent failed IUI or IVF cycles, or miscarriages.
  • You are looking for an alternative to fertility treatments, such as IVF or donor egg

Where can I donate or receive embryos?

An adoption agency or embryo adoption program

Embryo adoption programs take a child-centric approach to embryo donation. They will screen their recipient families through background checks and adoption education. Families who donate through these programs will usually have a say to which adoptive family receives their embryos. The program will handle the legal process and logistics of shipping the embryos to the adoptive family’s fertility clinic. Open communication and updates are possible through this avenue.

A fertility clinic embryo donation program

Embryo donation programs are usually associated with a particular fertility clinic, where both the donors and recipients are current patients. Both parties will usually go through psychological evaluations before they are accepted into the program. The donation is anonymous and the clinic personnel decide which recipient family on the waitlist will receive the embryos, sometimes splitting up the donation between multiple families. Placing families will rarely get to stipulate preferences or a recipient family.

Self-Matching (or DIY Embryo Donation!)

This avenue is done between both the donors and recipients directly, without the help of a third-party organization. The two families either know each other personally or find each other on the internet (like through a Facebook group or an online matching database). Both parties are responsible for handling the legal process for the donation and gathering all the necessary paperwork needed by the clinics. If the embryos are going to be shipped from one location to another, the families are responsible for renting a dry shipper for the embryos transport and being the liaison between the two facilities.

If you have already been blessed through the miracle of embryo adoption or donation, take time this Thanksgiving to think about all the wonderful opportunities that were given to you because of this family building option!

To learn more about embryo adoption and donation, visit