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The Office of Population Affairs (OPA), within the Office of Public Health and Science (OPHS) is responsible for administering the embryo adoption public awareness campaign grants. The increasing success of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) has resulted in a situation in which an infertile couple typically creates multiple embryos through in-vitro fertilization (IVF). When a couple has completed their family building, they may choose to release the remaining unused embryos for adoption allowing another couple the experience of pregnancy and childbirth. These remaining embryos are cryo-preserved. It is estimated that more than 600,000 embryos are in frozen storage in the United States.

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What is Embryo Donation & Adoption?
With the advent of IVF and related assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedures, many infertility issues once considered insurmountable are being addressed with great success. However, IVF is still not a cure for infertility; nor is it an exact science, as each couple and situation is unique. Therefore, during IVF treatments, couples harvest multiple eggs and produce many embryos. Embryos that are not used in the first transfer are frozen for future attempts. Often couples will use purchased donor eggs and/or sperm to create their embryos. Frozen embryos represent hope for infertile couples. If the couple completes their family without using all of the stored embryos, they may choose to have the remaining unused embryos donated to another family. This gracious act allows the child to be born and offers other infertile couples the experience of pregnancy and birth.

The hoped for end result of an Embryo Adoption is a child who is not genetically related to the parents who gave birth to them - the definition of adoption.

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A New Adoption Choice
Embryo adoption is a new way to adopt where individuals that have remaining frozen embryos agree to release ownership (donate) of them to an adopting couple. The adopting family may either be known or anonymous to the donors. The intent is that the embryos will be transferred into the womb of the adopting mother so that she and her husband may bear a child and be that child's parents. It is referred to as adoption because the resulting child will not be genetically related to the parents who will give birth to him/her.

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A Difficult Decision
Many couples with remaining frozen embryos are faced with the difficult decision of what to do with them. Their options include:

  • Keep them frozen.
  • Thaw discard them.
  • Donate them to science.
  • Donate them to another couple.

By choosing to keep them frozen, the couple risks losing control of the final disposition of the remaining embryos. What will happen in the event of a divorce? The death of a spouse? The death of both parents? The Embryo Adoption Awareness Center exists to help both donating and adopting families learn the facts about this life affirming option.

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