Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is embryo
A: Embryo adoption is the
process of adopting frozen embryos from their donor parents (or genetic donors)
and implanting them in the adoptive mother’s uterus via in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Q: How successful is
A: Donated embryos face
several hurdles before a successful birth. First, the embryos must survive the
thawing process and then the transfer. Statistics report there is a 40% chance
of thaw and 50% chance they will attach. )Although advances in the freezing
techniques such as the "vitrification process" since 2007 are realizing between 70 and 90% chance of thaw rates.) At that point, they are subject to the
same challenges of any typical pregnancy.
Q: How many embryo
adoptions in the U.S. have successfully produced children?
A: This number is
difficult to confirm, due to the requested anonymity and confidentiality many
families seek. However, among industry professionals we know of
83 babies born to date and another 15 adopting
families are currently expecting babies. Embryos Alive reports 32 live births or
on the way as of December 2009.
Q: What is the current
supply of frozen embryos?
A: At present, there are
about 400,000 frozen embryos stored in fertility clinics around the country.
However, only half of those embryos (categorized as grade one or two embryos)
are expected to survive upon thawing. Unfortunately, many embryo donors do not
know of the option of adoption. According to the ASRM only 2% of those will be
donated to another couple. Like traditional adoptions, there are often more
couples hoping to adopt than are available embryos for adoption. Once again,
demand is greater than the supply.
Nearly 70% of adults in the United States would choose donation to another
couple for family building if they had unused frozen embryos. (July 2009
General Public Survey, I/H/R Research Group for NCA) excerpt Embryo
Awareness website Dec 2010
Q: What will happen to
those embryos that are not adopted?
A: Embryo donors are
given the choice of destroying the embryos or releasing them for medical
research. Embryos may be frozen indefinitely. Embryos Alive has one live birth
pregnancy that were a result of embryos stored in 1999.
Q: What is the cost of
A: Surprisingly, the cost
of embryo adoption is much less than the cost of traditional after-birth
adoptions. Most embryo adoptions cost between $4,000 and $10,000, which includes
the transfer of the embryos to the adoptive mother’s uterus. The remainder of
the fee is used to reimburse the genetic couple for their lab and storage
expenses. Most traditional adoptions—as well as most IVF procedures—easily cost
between $20,000 and $30,000.
Q: What are the legal
ramifications of embryo adoptions?
A: Embryo adoptions
are strictly legal, as there are currently no laws governing the process. A
legal and binding agreement is written between all parties involved..
Q: What do the donors
and adoptive parents know about one another?
A: Much like traditional
post-birth adoptions, embryo adoptions can be transparent, closed with
recomended DSR Donor Sibling Registry or agency-liaison.
While many genetic couples or donor parents wish to remain anonymous, the
adoptive couple does receive their medical information. And in most of the
cases, the donors select the adoptive parent/s based on personal information
that is provided in the couple’s profile, which includes background checks
and/or a homestudy maintained at the Embryos Alive office. There are also many
cases where the couples exchange names and e-mails, meet before the transfer,
and continue an transparent relationship once the child is born.
Q: Why would a couple
choose to donate their embryos?
A: Because IVF is a
painful and expensive procedure, doctors choose to harvest and fertilize
numerous eggs for multiple attempts at a pregnancy. Often, several embryos are
frozen for future use. Of course, couples never intend to parent that many
children, so they are left with the agonizing decision of what to do with the
remaining embryos. Their choices are to destroy them, donate them to medical
research or offer them to another couple for adoption. Those parents who choose
to offer their embryos for adoption believe that it is best to give life a
Q: How many embryos
are transferred at one time?
A: Typically, doctors
will transfer two to three embryos at a time, depending on the age of the donor
at the time of storage, and provide the couple with two to three opportunities
Q: Is there an
increased risk of birth abnormalities?
A: The risk of birth
abnormalities is no greater in embryo adoption than in a couple’s own genetic