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Embryo Adoption: 3 Things You Need To Know

For individuals and families considering adoption as a family-building option – either due to personal preferences or fertility challenges – one of the emerging trends is embryo adoption. This article examines what embryo adoption is, how it works, how it differs from traditional adoption and the costs you can anticipate when embarking on this journey.



#1: What is embryo adoption, and how does it work

It's common for extra embryos to get stored when individuals or couples are undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF). The Embryo Adoption Awareness Center estimates a surplus of 1,000,000 frozen embryos in America today. These unused embryos can be kept frozen, discarded, donated for scientific research – or donated to potential adopting parents who may be struggling to conceive a genetic child of their own.

Embryo adoption may be a good alternative if:

  • Infertility is a reality due to sperm or egg complications

  • IVF treatments have failed

  • There is a chance of passing on a genetic disorder to offspring

  • Parents want to circumvent sperm or egg donors

  • There's a desire to adopt AND still experience pregnancy

Once you decide to adopt an embryo, you can expect to:

  • Complete an application

  • Match with a donor

  • Legally adopt the embryo

  • Undergo the process of implanting the donor embryo into the adopted mother's uterus

According to Parents.com, there is a 47% chance of implantation and subsequent pregnancy. If unsuccessful, the adoptive family may try again – either with the same donor (if embryos are available) or a different donor.


#2: Embryo adoption vs. infant adoption

The primary difference between embryo adoption and infant adoption is that the former provides an opportunity for the adoptive parents to carry their child and experience pregnancy and delivery rather than relying on the birth mother. While both adoption options result in raising a genetically unrelated child, embryo adoption may give adoptive parents greater control over prenatal care. And one of the biggest concerns for adoptive parents is the risk of birth parents changing their minds once the child is born. This risk is minimized in embryo adoption because the adoptive parents have legal rights and responsibilities for embryos before birth.


Yet, there are similarities between the two also. For example, both typically require adoptive families to work through an agency, for a home study/family evaluation to be conducted, and there are legal requirements such as deciding to have an open or closed adoption.


#3: Embryo adoption costs

The good news regarding embryo adoption is that it's typically less than infant international or domestic adoption or undergoing IVF treatment. Yet, embryo adoptive parents need to remember that multiple cycles may be required. So, costs may balance out, in the end, irrespective of the path taken. According to the Embryo Adoption Awareness Center, costs associated with embryo adoption may range from $7,500 to $19,500 – versus the $20,000 to $50,000 related to traditional adoption. Below we break down the costs adopting families can anticipate versus donating families.

Fees typically covered by the adoptive family include:

  • Agency fees

  • Legal fees

  • Embryo shipping or transfer fees

  • Matching services

  • Counseling

  • Additional medical screenings

  • Home study and/or family evaluation

  • Frozen embryo transfer (FET)

  • Embryo storage after a match is made

Fees typically covered by the donating family include:

  • Charges for FDA regulation of infectious disease testing

  • Embryo storage before matching

It's worth noting that donating families do not typically receive payment for their donation or expenses related to IVF treatments.

Have questions about embryo adoption, get in touch!

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