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At the NEDC, we strive to make the adoption process as simple as possible and we want to answer any questions you may have. The series of videos below is designed to answer many common questions. For alternative donation options, further resources, and a list of myths vs. facts, scroll down past the videos.
If you are new to embryo adoption, some of the following non-profit sites could provide some more information. We also would like to dispel some of the myths about embryo adoption, including your rights as the adoptive parents of a child that is not genetically yours. Check out some facts below! If you still have questions, contact us any time!
Another option for donating your embryos is to work with one of the non-profit embryo donation agencies listed below. Most require a full adoption home study/family assessment of the recipient family and most will facilitate various open communication levels between you and the receiving family, if desired.
Myth: Embryo quality decreases or they expire the longer they are stored.
Fact: As long as embryos are stored correctly in liquid nitrogen, they may be viable indefinitely. A child was born in England from embryos stored for 21 years, and we at the NEDC have had numerous births after storage periods between 15 – 20 years.
Myth: Genetic parents could change their mind and obtain custody of the child(ren) born.
Fact: Under current law, once the embryos have been physically transferred into the recipient mother’s uterus, the genetic parents have no legal claim to any resulting children. The contract agreement and relinquishment forms used are legally binding between the two families. The birth certificate will list the woman giving birth as the mother of the baby and, if she is married, her husband as the father of the baby.
Myth: Using donated embryos increases the chances of the woman contracting a sexually transmitted disease or giving birth to a child with an increased chance of genetic defect.
Fact: The FDA requires all females and males who donate their embryos to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases prior to the IVF cycle where the embryos were created, as well as at least six months after the embryos are frozen. To date, there has not been any spread of STDs from the use of donated embryos. Birth defects are no more common with this technique than with standard IVF and are predicted to be no greater than in the general population.
Myth: Offering embryos for adoption prevents waiting adoptive children from being adopted.
Fact: Traditional infant adoption numbers have declined significantly since the 1970’s and currently only 1.7% of single pregnant women release their child for adoption. Most adoption agencies have more couples waiting for infants than there are placements to be made.
Myth: Children from embryo adoption could inadvertently meet their sibling and possibly marry and reproduce.
Fact: In a large society, the risk is negligible. It is not any higher than would be found in a closed/anonymous traditional adoption. Donating or adopting embryos out-of-state will reduce the risk even more.
Myth: You can purchase embryos just like you can donor sperm or donor oocytes.
Fact: Embryo donors are not paid. The American Society of Reproductive Medicine’s (ASRM) guidelines for embryo donation states that, “the selling of embryos, per se, is ethically unacceptable” and is illegal in some states. Creating embryos strictly for donation such as “designer” babies (where an anonymous egg and sperm donor are used) is unethical as well.
Myth: Using donated embryos increases the chances of a multiple pregnancy.
Fact: As with any assisted reproductive technology (ART) procedure, the chance of multiples is higher (35% per embryo transfer) compared to a naturally occurring pregnancy. ASRM states that, “physicians are obligated to provide safe and conscientious decisions regarding treatment which includes the number of embryos transferred.” The ASRM guideline continues with “after careful consideration of each patient’s own unique circumstances…transferring greater or fewer embryos than dictated by these criteria may be justified according to individual clinical conditions, including patient age, embryo quality.” Other factors that could influence the number of embryos transferred include the age of the female embryo or egg donor (if used) and a favorable prognosis. Even by following these guidelines there is no guarantee that a pregnancy with multiples will not occur. The risk is no higher with donated embryos.
Myth: Donated embryos are poor quality so the chance of achieving pregnancy with them is low.
Fact: This is not true. There are several different models for embryo grading and all are subjective on the part of the embryologist. Every situation is different but, generally, only viable quality embryos are frozen at the time of the genetic family’s fresh IVF cycle. At the NEDC, we have seen not-so-perfect embryos produce beautiful children while exceptionally high-quality ones failed to implant in the uterus. Most donated embryos come from families who have successfully given birth to a child(ren) and have completed their family; therefore, the donated embryos are from successful ART procedures. Many times the quality and proficiency of the freezing technique is the reason that up to 25% of frozen embryos do not survive the thawing process.
Myth: Blastocysts are more successful than 2PN embryos.
Fact: The NEDC recipient families have achieved pregnancies equally from all three stages of embryos. Of the 75% that survive the freeze/thaw process, the day one embryos (2PN stage) have a survival rate of 90% and above. The day three stage embryos (6-8 cell cleavage/multi-cell stage) have a 75% survival rate. The day five to six embryos (blastocyst stage) have a 70% or lower survival rate. Since blastocyst freezing is the most recently developed technique in cryopreservation, some fertility centers are better than others at this process. More embryos may be thawed in order to obtain two to three viable blastocyst stage embryos for transfer, but, once transferred into the uterus, the pregnancy rate is equal at all three stages.
Myth: Embryo adoption is more expensive than traditional adoption.
Fact: Embryo adoption is considerably less expensive than traditional domestic and international adoption. Costs vary by program but, generally, embryo adoption is from $6000-$12,000 while tradition domestic adoption runs $12,000-$20,000. For an estimate of the NEDC costs, please view the NEDC Fee Schedule. Some insurance plans may cover part of the testing and lab fees – check with your policy carrier. You may also be eligible to take an itemized deduction for personal medical care expenses paid during the taxable year.
Myth: Donating embryos to research is important to advance medical findings.
Fact: To date, embryonic stem cell research has not resulted in any treatments or cures. All currently used treatments have come from somatic (adult) stem cells.
Myth: We have to be a married, religious couple in order to receive donated embryos.
Fact: This is not true as embryo donation is available from a wide range of medical clinics, matching programs and individual donors; however, the guidelines and restrictions vary considerably. Of the non-profit matching agencies/programs, several are faith-based and several are extensions of traditional adoption agencies. At this time, the NEDC is the only clinic-based, medically-supervised agency available in the United States. Agency programs tend to have a larger number of available embryos along with specific guidelines in things such as length of marriage, the wife’s age at the time of transfer, and the ability to successfully complete a home study. In addition, most agencies offer the option to donate and receive embryos anonymously or in an open arrangement (where various levels of open communication between the donor and recipient occur). Moreover, there are a number of IVF fertility-based clinics that have embryos from patients who have completed their family and will offer them to other patients within their clinic. However, most IVF clinic programs have lengthy waiting lists and only offer embryo donations anonymously.