Families who learn that they cannot have biological children due to poor egg quality or other underlying issues will sometimes turn to egg donation. They will often purchase these eggs from a donor egg bank and then complete a cycle of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) to create embryos. It now appears that egg banks are entering the world of embryo donation.

Instead of just offering an egg donor program, several egg banks are now offering what they are calling “donor embryo programs.” In these programs, patients are offered embryos, either fresh or frozen, in place of donor eggs.


This process involves several practices that families should be aware of:

1. While purchasing these donated embryos is considerably less expensive than purchasing donor eggs, the fees still range from $12,000 to $15,000 and up.

2. Not only are these programs more expensive than embryo adoption programs, but egg banks also operate with an anonymous model. Much like how they manage the information on donated eggs, only basic information will be kept on file for the donated embryos. There is no potential for an open adoption or communication with the family who donated these embryos. It operates more like an IVF transfer than an adoption. This means that if the adoptive family is interested in connecting with the family who donated the embryos, any form of connection cannot be established. Biological siblings would also not know about each other unless they went to the Donor Sibling Registry, or submitted a mail-in DNA testing kit.

3. Some egg banks are claiming it is wrong to use the term “embryo adoption” because there is little legal action taken in this process and the donating family has already terminated their parental rights. They believe the term “traditional embryo donation” is a better fit. The hopeful result of an embryo transfer is a baby. Parenting a child that is not genetically related to you is quite literally the definition of adoption. This process is much more complex than simply a fertility procedure. A child is not being donated into a family; he or she is being adopted into a family. Regardless of the number of legal transactions needed in this process, it is most certainly still adoption.

Programs like the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program, a division of Nightlight Christian Adoptions, exist to help families with remaining embryos find a loving family for those embryos. Open communication is highly encouraged and is proven to be beneficial for the adopted child as well as the adoptive family and placing family. If a situation arose, medically or otherwise, where additional information was needed from the donating family, they could provide this information.

The Snowflakes Program also provides three generations of health history on the donated embryos for the adoptive family to review, which is kept on file for future reference. The children born from these embryos can also reach out to their embryo donor family and have contact with their genetic siblings if they desire it. Snowflakes-adopted children will never have to wonder about their biological family, as they would if they were born via one of these egg bank donor programs. The Snowflakes program also charges a flat fee of $8,500, making it considerably less expensive than these anonymous donation programs, while providing more information.


Learn more about embryo adoption and donation by visiting EmbryoAdoption.org.