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The Process for Adopting Embryos

A New Family Building Path

Frozen embryos are a source of hope for couples, like you, who are trying to have children. Whether you hope to have your first child or add more children to your clan, embryo adoption offers the opportunity to experience pregnancy and give birth. Some families who choose embryo adoption have already adopted children through domestic, international or even foster adoption. Often, when they discover embryo adoption they are excited to think about not only the chance to adopt a child, but to experience pregnancy and give birth to their adopted child. Embryo adoption is truly an amazing adoption choice.

Using donated embryos may be the right way to build your family if:
  • You and/or your partner are infertile
  • You and/or your partner are concerned about or at a high risk of passing on genetic disorders to your potential offspring
  • You and/or your partner have had recurrent in vitro fertilization (IVF)failures
  • You and/or your partner are looking for an alternative to infertility treatments such as IVF or donor egg recipient IVF

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Are Embryos Made Especially for Me?
Where do these embryos come from? Are they created specifically for donation to another person? No. These embryos are the fertilized eggs that remain from another couple's IVF treatment. Sometimes these couples will use purchased donor eggs and/or sperm to create their embryos. There are more than 600,000 embryos in frozen storage in the United States. Most of these embryos are stored for use by the families who created them. However, a certain percentage of these embryos are being donated to other families. Since the mid-90s it is estimated that over 3,500 children have been born in the U.S. through the practice of embryo donation and adoption.

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The Process of Embryo Adoption is Simple.
Adopting embryos is a fairly straight-forward process. People who have remaining frozen embryos legally agree to release them to another couple. When working through an embryo adoption agency, a process is used to match the donor and adopter based on preferences each has provided on their application form. It is similar to the process of matching a birth mother with an adopting family.

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Is Embryo Adoption Legal?
In the United States embryos are viewed as property and therefore it is important that appropriate legal contracts are signed between the parties transferring the ownership of the embryos and incorporating language regarding the termination of all parental rights.

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How Can We Be Sure We're Ready for Embryo Adoption?
Both couples should receive counseling regarding their decision to donate or receive embryos. Counseling the donor family helps them understand and manage the emotional-social aspects of having children genetically related to their children, raised in another family. Counseling for the adopting family prepares and helps them to anticipate and understand the issues and experiences that may arise in raise a child who is not genetically related to them.

Continue to look through our website to gain more information on embryo donation and adoption from the best sources - those who have experienced it!

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What Do We Get to Know About the Donor?

While embryo adoption agencies will encourage an open adoption between the families, the level and frequency of future communications will be mutually determined by those families, not the agency. Anonymous donation is an option, but based on the professional experience of adoption agencies, not recommended. An open adoption is a benefit to the donor, the adopter and the child.

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What Is a Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET)?

After the legal contracts are executed, the embryos may be shipped to another clinic where the adopting family wishes to have the frozen embryo transfer (FET) performed, or the adopting family may use the clinic where the embryos were created and are stored.

The adopting family and their physician determine how many of the embryos should be thawed for the frozen embryo transfer (FET) procedure. Embryos are thawed and transferred into the adopting mother's womb with the hope that they will implant into the uterine lining and continue their biological development to birth.

At the time of birth, the adopting couple is fully recognized as the legal parents to any children born. The mother who physically gives birth is recognized as the legal mother and the man to whom she is married at the time of birth is recognized as the legal father of the child(ren). These individuals are noted as the legal mother and legal father on the birth certificate(s).

To make this dream a reality, to adopt the child that you give birth to, your next step will be to contact agencies or clinics which provide embryo donation and adoption services and determine if this approach is absolutely right for your family.

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Will Embryo Adoption be Successful for Me?

The proven processes of adoption offer protection to all the parties involved. While there is no guarantee that your frozen embryo transfer (FET) will result in a successful pregnancy, the good news is that a recent study shows women who use their own embryos will have a 32% chance of delivering to term, whereas women using adopted frozen embryos will have a 35% chance of delivering to term. [Fertility & Sterility, September 2007, (Vol. 88, pg. S267)]

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How Much Will Embryo Adoption Cost?

Embryo adoption is a low-cost adoption choice when compared to domestic or international adoption. Learn more.

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Where Can We Find Embryos?

Choosing the right program is a critical step in the process, so do your research before this all-important selection. If you have already been pursuing assisted reproductive technology alternatives (ART), you likely have a preferred reproductive endocrinologist physician. Otherwise you may want to start researching local fertility clinics. A good referral may be made by your OB/GYN.

You may choose to work through a clinic donation program or an agency adoption program. Some programs are centrally managed, requiring you to travel to that location for all procedures. Some programs will allow you to work with the doctor and clinic of your choice.

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