Critical features of embryo adoption

woman and baby

Millions of extra embryos are created during the IVF process around the world. Most of them, in waiting, will never be used by their birth parents. Consider adopting an embryo to people who can’t conceive?

Adoption has long been an opportunity for many parents to expand their families and experience the joys of raising their children. Thanks to advances in reproductive medicine and technology such as IVF, a new form of adoption allow adoptive parents to experience the pleasures of pregnancy and childbirth.

What do we know about embryo adoption?

According to the embryo adoption agency, there are about one million frozen embryos in the US today; most come from people who have undergone IVF. Embryos could be frozen short-term (until the couple completes a successful IVF cycle) or long-term (until people decide they’re done having kids).

If the embryos are no longer needed, there are several options for the development of events: keep the embryos frozen, discard them, donate them for research or donate to people who can’t produce their own viable embryos. The latter allows the adopting woman to bear her own child.

Most often, the adoption of embryos is chosen by:

  • Women in good physical and reproductive health.
  • Couples or women on waiting lists for adoption. Many had already given up on fertility treatment or weren’t even considering it for religious or ethnic reasons.
  • Women without a male partner wishing to have a child.
  • Couples with long-term infertility problems.
  • Patients with repeated miscarriages.

Once a couple or a single woman decides to adopt an embryo, they must fill out an application, select a donor and legally adopt the embryo. The donor embryo is then implanted into the uterus of the adoptive mother (as in conventional IVF). The probability of implantation and subsequent pregnancy is less than 50%.  In case of failure, you can try again with another embryo.

The most common types of embryo adoption

Adopting parents are advised to read the information about donors before choosing an embryo; this usually includes medical records, family history, and more. They must also choose between open and closed adoptions.

In an open adoption, the donor and adoptive parents maintain a certain level of communication, such as face-to-face meetings, letters, or phone calls. Open adoption is encouraged when using an agency, as it is beneficial for medical purposes and family history matters such as disease and addictions.

In a closed adoption, the couple is not informed of the status of the embryo donation, meaning they will not know if they have other biological children.

The whole process of adopting an embryo usually takes at least a year. The exact length depends on various factors, including the adoption agency the family wants to work with, their requirements on donor parents, and the quality of the embryos.

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