Embryo Donation (also sometimes called embryo adoption), is the donation of unused embryos by the parents that created them to another person or couple for family building.
In vitro fertilization (IVF) cycles can result in more embryos than a patient can transfer. These unused embryos are usually frozen for the couple to attempt another pregnancy, but some may remain after the couple completes their family. One option for embryo disposition is to donate the remaining embryos to another infertility patient for a frozen embryo IVF cycle.
The percentage of frozen embryo transfers resulting in a live birth depends upon the age of the donating mother or egg donor at the time the embryos were created, with a younger woman having substantially greater success. Many donated embryos were created using donor eggs, and donors are usually in their 20s.
It is important to think through what services are important to you before you decide where to donate your embryos or where to find donated embryos. Services vary greatly depending on which option you choose. Services to consider include:
- Screening recipient couples/intended parents
- Counseling intended parents to help them assess whether they are ready to move to embryo donation
- Educating intended parents on issues that may arise in non-genetic parenting
- Facilitating the sharing of medical or other information between the donating and recipient couples
- Facilitating varying levels of contact or sharing between the donating and recipient couples (and the child when she becomes of age)
- Legal services
- Infertility clinics: $3,000-$10,000 Cost varies greatly. Some clinics charge only their standard rate for a frozen embryo transfer, while others charge more depending on services provided. Seldom includes legal fees, so you must add the cost of a reproductive law lawyer.
- Specialized embryo donation centers: $9,000-$16,000 (Higher fees usually include some degree of openness. Travel may be required. May not include legal fees.)
- Adoption agencies: $6,000-$16,000. (Generally, they provide more services such as screening and counseling/education and cost more. Usually includes legal fees.)
We know that our compromise of sometimes using both terms will displease some, but as the national infertility and adoption education organization, our first mission is to provide information, and providing information requires that people be able to find our resources. However, when talking about this option we encourage you to use the “correct” language – embryo donation.
Creating a Family has many resources on embryo donation/embryo adoption. A few of our more recent resources that we think you will find particularly helpful are:
- Adoption in the US: How Many? How Much? How Long? (article, updated annually)
- Why Should Donor-Conceived Families Be Publicly Embarrassed? (article)
- Are Children Conceived from Frozen Embryos At Increased Risk for Cancer? (article)
- Current Trends in 3rd Party Reproduction (1 hr. podcast w/ expert)
- Disclosing Donor Conception to our Kids (1 hr. podcast w/ expert)
- Suggested Books for Kids Conceived Through Embryo Donation/Embryo Adoption (booklists)
Many more Creating a Family interviews with experts, blogs, and fact sheets on embryo donation can be found at the icons below.
Sources: Creating a Family radio shows listed below; www.embryoadoption.org; www.embryodonation.org
Image credit: Charlotte