Frozen in 1997.
Thawed 13 years later in 2010.
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 (ART) alternatives, you likely have a preferred reproductive endocrinologist and you can begin your search with them. 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 adoption agency program. Some programs are centrally managed, requiring you to travel to that location for procedures. Other programs will allow you to work with the doctor and clinic of your choice. Some families also choose to match themselves with a donor. Read below to learn the details on the types of program. Deciding what type of program is best for you will help you hone your search down significantly, and gets you one step closer to building your family.
You have several alternatives when receiving embryos:
As the adopting family, you will have the added benefit of receiving training on raising a child who is not genetically related to you through the home study process. The required home study is comprised of about 20% screening and 80% education. This screening provides the family donating their embryos to you peace of mind that their embryos are going to the best possible match. The donating family will provide you with information regarding their current family, economic status, and social and medical history. The agency will match you with a family who best meets the criteria you have specified.
The families agree upon a mutual level of future communication, a decision made for your future child’s best interest. The communication may be facilitated by the agency if desired. This communiation has proven to bring the best future outcomes for both the children who are born and the adopting and donating families.
Historic records of the donation are maintained by the agency. The agency will have the necessary legal documents for the transfer of property (the embryos) from the donating family to you, the adopting family. The agency will coordinate with the fertility clinics involved regarding medical testing required by the FDA and shipment of the embryos.
The adoption process can take time, but typically, embryo adoption agencies have embryos waiting for families to adopt them.
Generally you receive little to no information regarding the donating family. Embryos are donated directly to the clinic, and the clinic determines who receives them. The embryos may be given to multiple families (e.g.: The genetic family donates ten embryos, four are given to family A, three are given to family B and three are given to family C). There will likely be no communication between you and the donor family. Few, if any, historical records of the donation are maintained by the clinic.
You will want to be sure to have the appropriate legal documents completed prior to receiving anyone’s embryos. In these contracts the donating family terminates their ownership of the embryos and their future parental rights.
With clinic donation programs, wait time before being matched with embryos varies significantly, as the process is wholly dependent on whether or not patients have donated embryos to the clinic to match.
You may know someone personally who has remaining embryos, and you may arrange for a self-directed match. The onus is then upon you and the donating family for the legal, medical, regulatory and logistical necessities of the donation. There are several websites available that also help you match yourself with a donor, and again, complying with all the legal, medical, regulatory, and logistical aspects of embryo donation are your responsibility.