Adopt an Embryo
BACKGROUND: About 200,000 frozen embryos are left over from in-vitro fertilization (IVF) attempts in storage facilities across the United States. The unused embryos are frozen, waiting for a decision about what will be done with them.
NO CLEAR LAWS: Unlike other countries, the United States has no rules about how long human embryos can remain frozen before a decision about their fate must be made. This has led to a growing number of unused embryos. Couples can choose to leave them frozen for later use, donate them to other couples, donate them for research, or get rid of them.
ADOPTING AN EMBRYO: Although the option is rarely used, some couples choose to donate an embryo for adoption. Elizabeth Kennard, M.D., says: "Most people who have frozen embryos in storage do not release them for donation. They tend to not make any decision at all." Dr. Kennard says implementing an adopted embryo is done just like a biological one, but for a fraction of the cost. "It's not really that new and something that probably most in-vitro centers are willing to do if they have available embryos and couples willing to accept them."
WHERE DO I GO? One agency, called Embryos Alive, matches embryos with adoptive couples. The agency works with couples and singles that are interested in providing a loving, stable home. They are screened with conventional adoption procedures and background checks. The agency does not charge donors.
HOW SUCCESSFUL IS IT? Dr. Kennard says implementing an adoptive embryo is about as successful as regular in-vitro fertilization. The success depends on the age of the woman who provided the eggs. "For a woman who is under 35 who had embryos stored and if we use her embryos for another woman, the success rate will be about 40 percent. The woman who receives the embryos really doesn't have any age restrictions because the uterus is very capable of carrying a pregnancy if we give it the right hormones to begin with," Dr. Kennard says.
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