Frequently Asked Questions
General Information on Embryo Adoption
How many embryo adoption programs exist?
Currently the Embryo Adoption Awareness Center is aware of eight active embryo adoption programs in the United States. We also know of one embryo adoption program in Canada through Beginnings Family Services.
To our knowledge, there are no other established embryo adoption programs outside of the U.S. and Canada, though clinic donation programs do exist.
At which point should we educate our clients about embryo adoption?
We suggest that you begin to educate your potential clients about embryo adoption as an option in your informational sessions or in your one-on-one meetings with clients as you are educating them about domestic, international or foster adoption.
Does the adoption tax credit apply to embryo adoption?
We have heard of families who have been able to receive the adoption tax credit (ATC) for their embryo adoption.
We have also heard of families who have applied and have not received the tax credit.
We would encourage you to talk to your CPA about the possibility and they would be able to point you in the right direction of how to apply.
What ways can we be involved in embryo adoption without starting a program?
The easiest way agencies can participate is through self-education followed by client education. Potential clients see your agency as a trusted source of information regarding adoption options. Adding embryo adoption to your list of these options increases your value as a reliable information provider.
If you have a client who chooses to pursue an embryo adoption through another agency, your agency may perform the home study for the family. By providing embryo adoption home studies to clients, you are preparing, training, and educating families for their life ahead as a parent of a child who has joined their family in unique, but special circumstances. A list of existing embryo adoption agencies is available to help you explore options for partnerships.
The Embryo Adoption Process
Why should we complete a home study when embryo adoption is not a 'true' adoption?
The importance of the home study lies in its purpose to develop healthy families.
An adoption home study ensures that the safeguards currently in place for traditional adoption also protect the child, the donor family, and the receiving parents in an embryo adoption situation.
Despite the fact the adoptive mother gives birth to a child through embryo donation, that child is still an adopted child; he or she share no genetic relation to the adoptive mother nor father.
When children are part of a family to whom they are not genetically related, they will have the same types of questions as those of children adopted through traditional means.
The home study process includes education and background checks. It provides the adoptive family with an opportunity to learn about and anticipate these types of questions.
The home study also educates the recipient parents of the best way to address these questions with sensitivity to the needs of the child.
Why is it important to provide counseling to adoptive families?
There are emotional impacts on both the individual and the family, not to mention the personal, financial, and spiritual concerns that adoptive families commonly feel with the process of embryo adoption.
Keeping in mind that the hoped result of the adoption is the birth of a child, it is incredibly important to help your client come to conclusions about how they will share with their child about their origins. Providing in-depth counseling helping them overcome the psychological impacts of infertility is a good first step.
When is an embryo adoption finalized?
Some programs will consider the adoption finalized at the time the contracts between the donating and recipient families are completed. Other programs will consider the adoption finalized when the embryos are thawed and transferred during the FET procedure.
Embryo Adoption Home Studies
Should we encourage open or closed embryo adoptions?
Just like in a traditional adoption, there are several advantages to encouraging open adoptions between donor and adoptive families. Among them is the exchange of knowledge and information, including information on medical conditions.
Open adoptions can also ease the process of explaining a child’s genetic history to them. Adult adoptees and donor conceived adults have explained why honesty is important for an understanding of who they are, where they came from, and for knowledge of their own medical history.
Children given life through embryo adoption have the same right-to-know as any other adoptee so they can understand biological roots and have a medical history. For these reasons and many other sociological and psychological reasons, we strongly encourage open embryo adoptions.
What changes does our agency need to make to our current home study process to support embryo adoption?
We have created a webinar Conducting a Home Study for Embryo Adoption to help agencies understand how to modify their existing domestic adoption home study process to support embryo adoption. They may also benefit from contacting the embryo adoption agency you are working with to understand any additional requirements needed.
How is an embryo adoption home study different than a traditional home study?
Embryo adoption home studies are similar to traditional home studies with some modifications. The main purpose of an embryo adoption home study (following in the steps of a domestic home study) is to provide education and training for adoptive families. Potential topics to address during the home study process include:
- Understanding of infertility issues
- Understanding of donor egg and/or sperm and how the Donor Sibling Registry can help the child be connected to other genetically related individuals
- Exploration of reasons for choosing embryo adoption
- Discussion of grief and loss issues through exploring the couple’s infertility journey
- Discussion of the loss of a mutually genetic child
- Specifying preferences regarding donor
- Discussion of the potential for genetic siblings and how the adopting couple will address this unique dynamic with their adopted child
- Addressing the couple’s feelings about giving birth to an adopted child
- Discussion of how the family may have remaining embryos for future family building
- Covering the potential for a multiple birth pregnancy
- Preparing the clients for the possibility that donated embryos may not survive thawing, the embryo transfer may not result in pregnancy or that a pregnancy may not be carried to term
- Addressing the fact that a couple may complete family building and have remaining embryos
- Guiding adopting couple in determining their preferences for donor/embryos based on genetics and family background
- Working through the family profile creation with the client and assisting them in presenting themselves with integrity, remembering that the donor family has also experienced infertility
- Exploration of contact with the donor family, including reasons for establishing and maintaining contact, exploring resistance, level and type of contact, and building positive relationships with the donor family
- Addressing the couple’s plans for sharing about the adoption with the adopted child and their extended family
Embryo Adoption Home Studies
Starting An Embryo Adoption Program
What average time commitment should an agency or attorney expect to invest with each placement?
A typical time investment can range from 100 to 200 hours per family choosing to adopt or place embryos for donation. The time spent can be broken down into the following types of activities:
- Processing the application
- Counseling and matching the families
- Preparing the documents for transfer of legal ownership
- Coordinating the medical documentations
- Facilitating shipment of the embryo
This list is by no means exhaustive and the time required to place embryos may vary greatly depending on the needs and desires of each individual family.
As an agency you may choose to provide your client with a home study and then work with an established embryo adoption provider for program services to your client.
What are some things we should consider before starting a new embryo adoption program?
Should your agency have an interest in starting a new program, here are some items to consider:
- Do you have current personnel to manage a new program or will you need to add staff?
- Are you interested in working with an experienced provider first, perhaps providing the home study for the adoption initially, and learning more through your participation with the experienced provider?
- Are you interested in or willing to hire an expert who can provide insight and guidance in the establishment of a program?
- What geography would you like to cover?
- What types of marketing will be required to build an in-house program?
- Where/how will you acquire donated embryos?
- Can you find and partner with a local attorney who either has experience or is willing to learn about the legal aspects in your state(s)?
If we wanted to start a program, what is the typical fee schedule?
As in any adoption program, the fees charged will vary depending on the organization offering the service, the geographical area being serviced, and the motivations of the program founders.
Typically, the fees for embryo adoption are less than those for a traditional adoption.
What are advantages to partnering with fertility clinics?
When an agency chooses to partner with a fertility clinic the benefits positively impact both the adoption agency’s clients and business.
For clients, a partnership with a fertility clinic means an established potential source of donor embryos. Fertility clinics appreciate controlling the creating, freezing, thawing and transfer of embryos within that clinic. They feel that it gives their patients (your clients) a better opportunity for pregnancy success. For an agency, this means that a clinic partnership may provide a new source of revenue by opening opportunities for donor and adoptive family counseling, home studies, and program fees.
In an agency-clinic partnership, each entity provides their expert services. The clinic focuses on the medical aspects of embryo adoption, while the agency provides the social, psychological, and legal aspects. This eliminates future adoption-oriented liabilities to the clinic. They are not liabilities to the adoption agency, because the tasks are already a part of the adoption process.
What laws govern embryo adoption?
In the United States embryos are considered property, not people, and therefore the ‘owners’ [the donors] of the embryos transfer the ownership to the recipient family via property law.
What are the legalities surrounding embryo adoption and donation?
The adoption process involves agreement and relinquishment forms, which are legal contracts between the donor and recipient families.
The contracts formalize the donor family’s relinquishment of their parental rights prior to the embryo being transferred to the recipient family.
Parties involved should note that embryos have a special legal status that is yet to be clearly defined. While many courts are reluctant to classify embryos as property, they also do not characterize them as human beings. As a result, embryo adoption programs may differ in how they define embryos in their legal agreements. Some may refer to embryo donation as a transfer of property while others may incorporate traditional adoption language into their legal documents.
What legal documents are used to transfer the embryos to the adoptive family?
Necessary legal documents include:
- A document relinquishing the donor family’s rights and responsibilities to the embryos and any children born from those embryos
- A document allowing the recipients to assume all parental rights and responsibilities for the embryos and any children born from them.
The Adoption Process
Through this simple and successful adoption process, you control the pregnancy and give birth to your adopted child. No costly “donated” human eggs, no expensive IVF, no traveling, no anxiety about a birthmother changing her mind, no international intrigue. Watch a series of videos to learn more about how the process works.