Embryo Donation/Adoption

Embryo Donation/Embryo Adoption

Embryo Donation/Adoption

Embryo Donation/Embryo AdoptionEmbryo 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.

Success Rate of Embryo Donation
The success rate for embryo donation (embryo adoption) is similar to the success rate for IVF cycles using thawed embryos. The Society of  Assisted Reproductive Technology (SART) data indicates that approximately 40% of embryo donation transfers resulted in a live birth.

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.

Where To Donate Unused Embryos/Where to Find Donated Embryos
Couples wanting to donate their leftover embryos to another infertile couple and intended parents looking for donated embryos have several options. Their infertility clinic may have an embryo donation program that can accept their frozen embryos. There are a few specialized medical embryo donation centers that accept unused embryos. Several adoption agencies also have embryo donation programs. Online forums exist that allow donating families and recipient families to self-match, but caution must be used with this DIY approach, and the services of a reproductive law attorney are essential.

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
Cost of Donating Embryos for the Donating Couple
There is usually no fee to donate your embryos to another couple. Donating couples or singles may not be paid for their embryos or the costs to create them through IVF, but may be reimbursed for costs associated with the donation.
Cost of Embryo Donation for the Recipient
The cost of embryo donation to the family receiving the donated embryos varies depending on what type of program you use, whether you have to travel to the fertility clinic doing the actual transfer of the embryo, and what services are provided. All costs are approximations.

  • 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.)

Is It Embryo Donation or Embryo Adoption?
The Ethics Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine has stated that the correct term for donating unused embryos to another couple for family building is “embryo donation” rather than “embryo adoption”. Creating a Family respects this position in our material, but since many people looking for information on this option continue to call the process “embryo adoption” and use this as their search term, we sometimes use both terms to aid them in finding our material. Further, adoption agencies that find families for donated embryos usually use an adoption model and most often call the process “embryo adoption”.

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:

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

Additional Resources

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Creating a Family Podcasts on Embryo Donation

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Creating a Family Blogs on Embryo Donation

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Creating a Family Factsheets, Tips on Embryo Donation

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