When first considering adoption to build your family, there will be a lot of different choices and programs to sift through: Domestic infant, international, foster-adoption, and embryo adoption.

After some consideration, some families narrow down their choices to domestic infant or embryo adoption. Some families are left wondering what may be the best choice for their family-building journey. While the embryo adoption process involves many of the same steps as infant adoption—such as the matching process and adoption home study—there are some differences prospective adoptive parents should take into account when deciding which form of adoption is right for them.

Pregnancy Experience

The biggest difference between adopting an embryo and adopting an infant is the pregnancy experience. Parents who choose embryo adoption carry and deliver their adopted child themselves, whereas parents pursuing traditional infant adoption rely on the expectant mother to carry and deliver the baby before she relinquishes her parental rights.

Because the adoptive mother carries the child herself, embryo adoptive parents often feel a greater sense of control in embryo adoption, especially when it comes to the prenatal care of the baby.

Security of Placement

Adoptive parents who choose embryo adoption have legal rights and responsibility for the embryos prior to attempting a pregnancy. After the child is born, the names of the adoptive parents are placed on the birth certificate at the hospital. No court finalizations are needed. In a domestic infant adoption, the birth mother is normally given some time after giving birth to choose to parent her baby instead of placing for adoption.


The cost of an embryo adoption is generally lower than that of traditional infant adoption. In the United States, on average families owe anywhere from $25,000 – $35,000 to adopt an infant. With embryo adoption, fees can range anywhere from as low as $10,000 – $20,000. There are grants, scholarships, and fundraising opportunities for both adoption programs.

No Guaranteed Pregnancy

All adoption programs come with risks. One of the main risks of embryo adoption is there is no guarantee that an embryo or a frozen embryo transfer (FET) will result in a live birth. Chances of a pregnancy are high, with a 45-50% success rate. However, not every frozen embryo transfer will result in a pregnancy. This could mean that adoptive parents may have to attempt multiple transfers, sometimes with different embryo donors or placing families. Depending on the embryo adoption program the family is working with, they may be charged additional fees for multiple matches and/or attempts.

These are just some of the general differences between embryo adoption and infant adoption. It is up to each family to conduct their own research and decide what program is best for them when they make the decision to adopt.

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