Embryo Adoptions

By: Dana Sanders

For many couples desperately trying to bear children, infertility is a reality. Usually, a couple with fertility problems attempts many chances at having a biological family-including in vitro fertilizations. Many couples wish to experience the joy of carrying and giving birth to a child, but physically cannot produce a viable embryo. After trying all viable options, many couples give up hope. However, there is an option that has given infertile couples the ability to have children, even if they are not biologically their own. If a woman is capable of carrying a child to term, this option may be the light at the end of the infertility tunnel. Embryo adoption allows an adoptive couple who cannot conceive on their own the ability to carry and give birth to that life, creating a family of their own.

When a couple tries in vitro fertilization, egg and sperm are combined in a laboratory setting to create embryos. These embryos are then frozen using a cryogenic process to keep the embryo alive. Only one of these embryos is implanted, leaving the rest sitting in the preservation freezer waiting for the couple to make a decision. If the couple does not want more children, they can donate the embryos to be used by an infertile couple. Several organizations deal especially in embryo adoption and accept embryo donation from generous couples. One such organization, The National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC) was created to provide options for the couples facing the problem of what to do with these embryos. Another organization, Snowflakes Embryo Adoption, is part of the organization Nightlight Christian Adoptions. Nightlight specializes in assisting all potential adoptive parents with traditional adoptions or embryo adoptions. Before embryo adoption, couples were forced to either destroy the embryos or donate them as research subjects.

Embryo donations can be either open or anonymous adoptions. Upon donation of the embryos, the donating couple can choose to reveal their personal information to those who become parents and carry the embryo. Similarly, couples interested in adoption can request the adoption to be conducted anonymously. Since adoption can only take place after the child has been born, using the term "adoption" for this process is somewhat of a misnomer. Embryo adoption is a legal proceeding that involves specific documentation. Unlike adoption, when the child is born, the names of the adoptive parents will appear on the birth certificate. Once the legally-binding donation contract has been signed, the donating couple cannot place any claim on the child, especially after the child's birth.

Just like in vitro fertilization, embryo adoption is not guaranteed to result in a pregnancy or a child. Unfortunately, only about two-third of the embryos survive the thawing process. There is only a 20 to 25 percent chance embryo implantation will successfully result in a pregnancy. However, if a couple desires to carry and give birth to a child, these chances may be their best bet.

Economically speaking, embryo adoption runs about a third the amount of standard in vitro fertilization. For many couples, the economic aspect of infertility treatments result in closing many doors. In addition to these costs, travel expenses must be included since many organizations require you visit their location for initial screening and the actual implantation process. If the first embryo implantation does not result in pregnancy, the couple usually has a couple of additional chances. The embryo adoption process at NEDC provides couples with three chances of implantation of the adoptive embryos. Much like in vitro fertilization, the more chances necessary for embryo adoption increases the cost. Granted this is a small price for the joy of giving birth to a child and creating a family, it is outside of the means of some infertile couples. Before embarking on the embryo adoption experience, all decisions need to be made to ensure this process is an option.

Embryo adoption gives couples with the inability to have biological children but have the desire and love to start a family a second chance. To decide if embryo adoption may be an option for your and to learn more about the process, consult the Snowflakes website at www.nightlight.org/snowflakeslanding.asp or the National Embryo Donation Center at www.embryodonation.org.

Copyright 2005 by Dana Sanders. All rights reserved.

Child Adoptions
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