What is Embryo Adoption? | Donation vs. Adoption | Donor Nexus™

What is embryo adoption and how does it compare to embryo donation? Often, a couple or individual receiving donated embryos is considered to be “adopting” the embryos regardless if they are participating in an embryo adoption or embryo donation program.

In both embryo adoption and embryo donation, patients are able to use donated frozen embryos in hopes of achieving a pregnancy. However, there are important differences in the process of embryo adoption compared to the process of embryo donation.

What’s the Difference?

What does it mean to adopt an embryo? Embryo adoption views the embryo as a child, typically requiring the recipients to go through a comprehensive legal process to “adopt” the embryo.

Embryo donation views the embryo as a gift that is being donated and the recipients are accepting ownership.

At Donor Nexus, we offer embryo donation cycles. However, the flexibility of our program allows for open or semi-open embryo donations, which offer many similarities to embryo adoption.

Embryo Adoption vs. Donation

Although embryo donation and embryo adoption are similar in many ways and sometimes you will even find the two terms used interchangeably on fertility blogs and forums, there are important differences to consider when choosing between an embryo donation and embryo adoption program.

First, Let us Define Adoption and Donation:

» Adoption: The act of one who takes another’s child into their own family, treating them as their own and giving all the rights and duties as if it were their own child. A juridical act created between two persons certain relations, purely civil, of paternity and filiation (1).

» Donation: The act by which the owner of a thing, voluntarily transfers ownership and possession of the same, from himself to another person, without any consideration, a gift. The donation is not perfected until it is accepted, which is requisite to make the donation complete.

Cost, Timeline, and Process Comparisons

Based on many interactions with intended parents who were unaware of the differences between embryo adoption and donation, we have created a simple breakdown to help patients and potential patients better understand each option.

How Much Does Embryo Adoption Cost?

The average price for embryo adoption is in the range of $12,000 – $15,000. Additionally, the required home study cost ranges from $2,000 to $3,500.

How Much Does Embryo Donation Cost?

At Donor Nexus, embryo donation costs begin at $11,100 per cycle, excluding pre-testing.

How Does Embryo Adoption Work?

As stated above, adoption involves taking a child as your own. Rather than receiving a gift or accepting ownership of embryos, embryo adoption recognizes each embryo as a child. Embryo adoption programs involve the donor parents selecting the intended parents that will receive the embryos. As an intended parent, you may post an ad on a website about yourself and your partner.

Many embryo adoption agencies require couples to complete a home study, which is a comprehensive family study conducted by a state licensed adoption agency. Additionally, a legal contract is drafted between the donor and recipient parties.

It is not uncommon for embryo adoption agencies to have more exclusive requirements for the recipients. Many embryo adoption agencies are founded on religious principles and require that the recipients are a married heterosexual couple.

How Long Does the Embryo Adoption Process Take?

With embryo adoption, you can expect a wait of 8-10 months until your frozen embryo transfer takes place. 

How Long Does the Embryo Donation Process Take?

Embryo donation cycles do not require as much of a time commitment. Because time is of the essence, our agency offers a No Wait Donor Embryo Cycle to recipients who are ready to grow their families. Typically, patients who choose to use donor embryos often deliver within one year of their first visit.

How Does Embryo Donation Work?

Embryo donation is generally an anonymous cycle that involves patients donating their unused or leftover embryos to their fertility clinic for future patient use. The donations are then facilitated by the fertility clinic.

Patients interested in finding donor embryos are able to view the embryo donor profile in an online embryo donor database. Generally, the embryo profiles include non-identifying information about the mother and father. The shared information typically includes: ethnicity, hair color, eye color, year embryos were created, Embryo Grading, and whether genetic testing was performed. Additionally, some donor embryo profiles even reveal the sex of the baby. There is no direct communication between the donor parents and intended parents, unless requested by and agreed upon by both parties.

Benefits of Embryo Donation:

1. It is common for more than one donor embryo to be available from the same donors, so there’s an opportunity for recipients to have more than one child with similar genetics.

2. Recipients can choose the genetic traits they desire by looking through donor embryo profiles offering family history, ethnic, and social backgrounds. 

3. Embryo donation cycles do not involve a home study.

4. In contrast with frozen embryo adoption, there are not complicated or perilous legal issues surrounding the use of the embryos. 
As intended parents, you are the legal guardians of the child and listed as so on the birth certificate.

Using Donor Embryos Compared to Traditional Adoption

Traditional adoption and using donated embryos are both admirable ways of raising a child that mat have no genetic link to you. Whether donor embryos are being used for an adoption or donation cycle, the recipient mother has the ability to carry and deliver the child, acting as both the adoptive mother and surrogate mother, and maintaining control over the prenatal environment of the baby.

Interestingly, studies show that the demographics of embryo donors are typically more favorable than the demographics of biological parents of an adopted child. For instance, the prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is significantly higher among adoptees and foster children. Essentially, embryo donation and embryo adoption both offer a less expensive and quicker alternative to traditional adoption. In addition to the opportunity to experience pregnancy and childbirth, using donor embryos also allows you to seek genetic testing on the embryo(s), possibly including the opportunity for gender selection.

Your Unique Path to Parenthood

One of the most important parts of the IVF process is researching all options to make an informed decision on which treatment program is best for you. Since our establishment in 2012, we have helped many families who were initially seeking an embryo adoption agency.

In our embryo donor database, you will discover a wide variety of donated embryos. If you are seeking an open donation, we generally have several embryo donors who are willing to participate in an open, semi-regular contact, donation. Essentially, if your goal is to achieve a healthy pregnancy using donor embryos while still reaping some of the benefits involved in embryo adoption, Donor Nexus’ Donor Embryo Cycle™ may be able to meet your needs.

Parents bond with child born via embryo adoption.

Find hope in the stories from couples and individuals who grew their family using donor embryos

Summary: Although embryo adoption is sometimes used interchangeably for embryo donation, they do not mean the same thing. There are important differences to note between embryo adoption agencies and embryo donation agencies. At Donor Nexus, we offer embryo donation cycles. Although most of our embryo donors opt for anonymous donations, we do have options for open or semi-open embryo donation cycles, which are similar to embryo adoption without requiring home study and other legalities. If you are seeking embryos available for adoption, we encourage you to learn more about the differences and similarities between embryo donation and embryo adoption before choosing which one is right for you. 

We’re Here to Help

The Donor Nexus donor embryo database currently features over 250 available donor embryos. Simply register and begin browsing profiles to find your perfect match! Donor Nexus is located in Newport Beach, California, and attracts patients worldwide to participate in our embryo donation program. For the embryo transfer, you will need to spend a total of four days in Southern California. We hope you found this information helpful. If you have any additional questions, contact our team and we will be happy to assist you.

References: (1) Black’s Law Dictionary. 9th Weslaw, Eagen, MN, 2009. Retrieved from http://thelawdictionary.org/adoption/ (2) (2016). Retrieved from http://legal dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/donation

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