Did you know that embryo adoption has existed for 25 years?

November kicks off the start of National Adoption Month, where adoption agencies and families celebrate the beauty of adoption. However, embryo adoption is often overlooked. Why is it not considered a form of adoption even though thousands of families have participated in it for years?

Embryo donation and embryo adoption are two separate concepts, but are often confused as the same.

When a family creates embryos through in vitro fertilization (IVF) they may create more embryos than they end up using for their own family building. The fertility clinic they used for their IVF treatment may have an in-house embryo donation program. These clinic donation programs are often anonymous and donated embryo sets may be distributed to multiple patients who want to use donor embryos. The donor usually does not have a say in who receives their embryos, nor will they be told about any outcomes from their donation.

A true embryo adoption program will attempt to incorporate the best practices of a domestic infant adoption into the process.

The hopeful end-result of any embryo adoption or donation is the birth of a baby. A baby who is not genetically related to their parents. This is the definition of adoption. An embryo adoption program through an agency will require an adoption home study to help prepare and evaluate the adoptive family. The donor families value the home study requirement because they know that the family who receives their remaining embryos has been vetted.

An embryo adoption agency will provide thoughtful matching services, incorporating both the donor and the adoptive family preferences into consideration. Legal contracts will be included in the cost of the adoption. Coordination with fertility clinics and shipment of the embryos is also included. So rather than just considering an embryo donation as a medical procedure, embryo adoption helps with the social and emotional and medical aspects of the donation and adoption of embryos.

The goal of an embryo adoption is provide safe homes for children born from embryos. The only way to ensure the safety of the embryos is to apply the best practices of adoption.

Is working with an embryo adoption agency the right path for everyone with remaining embryos? Not necessarily. However, if an embryo donor wants to have more control, more involvement in the selection of a recipient/adopting family, an adoption agency program is worth exploring.

Please feel free to visit our website, where you can view different ways to receive and adopt embryos, as well as different programs to which you are able to donate remaining embryos!

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