You have decided to take the plunge and donate your embryos to another family! You may think the process is simple: Choose a program, speak with a representative, sign some papers, done! There is so much more to donating embryos than some families initially realize.
Here are the top five things you will learn when starting the embryo donation process:
You do have a choice in what program to donate your embryos, but not all embryo adoption or donation programs are the same.
With most programs, you do not have a say in who receives your embryos, and because many place anonymously, you will have no idea if you will cross paths with the baby who was born from those embryos. But some programs allow you to know whom the embryos were placed with and allow you the opportunity to choose the family yourself!
If your embryos are more than five years old, it may be harder to donate them because many fertility clinics will not accept them.
Embryos that are more than five years old typically have older protocols for thawing and transferring embryos. Consequently, many clinics and recipient families opt not to use “older” embryos for family building. In addition, fertility clinics will often destroy records that are associated with the embryos if it has been over seven years, which are required and vital pieces of information in the donation process. If that described your current situation, it is best to check with your fertility clinic to be sure those records are still accounted for.
If you have less than three embryos, there may be a cost to donate.
There are multiple logistics to consider in the embryo donation process: Legal documentation, FDA donor panels, administration, support, and storage to name a few. Some embryo adoption or donation programs charge you for all the fees that are incurred, while others may just need to offset some of the cost. While you might find a program that has no fee to donate less than three embryos, you may also discover they do not give you much say in the donation process either.
You are responsible for storage and transportation costs of your embryos until you sign the contract to release them to another family.
United States law regards embryos that exist outside the womb as property. Therefore, you are responsible for storing and transporting them until a new owner is named. This can become quite costly over time if the donation process is taking longer than expected. As a result, many families wonder if there is a more cost-effective solution to store the embryos in the meantime. We recommend moving your embryos to a cryobank, as the storage costs is generally much lower than at fertility clinics.
You will find that communication with your recipient family may bring you closure.
Many families considering embryo donation are worried that communicating with the family who receives their embryos will be too heartbreaking—how in the world could you handle knowing more information about the genetic child that is being raised by someone else? However, many families who donated embryos often say that once they learn more about the family and the baby that was born, they find closure instead of heartbreak. They knew from that moment on that their donation was the right thing to do; that baby belongs into the adoptive family.
To learn more about embryo donation and adoption, visit embryoadoption.org.