What You Need To Know About Embryo Donation and Adoption

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How does conceiving through in vitro fertilization, and still being able to altruistically donate a future baby, sound? In the United States alone, more than 10% of couples are plagued with infertility and difficulty conceiving. Among the more advanced methods to help couples conceive is in vitro fertilization, wherein the woman’s eggs are fertilized by her male partner’s sperm cells in the laboratory before it is implanted back in the womb to be carried like a normal pregnancy. Couples may produce more than one embryo with an IVF attempt. They will naturally have one implanted into the womb, but what happens to the other embryos?

Countries like Australia and the UK have laws the excess embryos should be discarded after a certain period, however the United States gives couples the deciding right. They may choose to discard, or to donate these embryos for other couples, or for research. Donated embryos are preserved by freezing them in liquid nitrogen at negative 196 degrees Celsius. This easily helps a couple avoid the moral dilemma of “killing” their own unwanted extra embryos. By donating these embryos to childless couples, these IVF couples can help them have a fighting chance against infertility and experience a normal pregnancy.

An embryo is the result of the joining of a sperm and egg cell. Under the normal IVF procedure, several eggs and sperms are obtained, and more than one embryo is created, even though only one is needed to implant into the mother’s womb. Extra embryos are then frozen and stored in a fertility clinic. When another childless couple decides to adopt another couple’s embryo (as opposed to having their own egg and sperm cells taken), the embryo is thawed and implanted into the other woman’s womb and carried like a normal pregnancy. When the baby is born, it is considered the adopting parents’ own child.

Embryo adoption is a new and exciting concept for many couples who have considered adoption as an option. Unlike traditional adoption wherein the couple assumes parenthood for a child, embryo adoption allows the couple to experience carrying the embryo in the woman’s womb and fulfilling their wishes for a pregnancy to happen. There are deeper emotions built as the woman sustains the pregnancy, even if the embryo is from another couple. Also, bonding with the newborn becomes a more intimate experience as the adopting couple assumes parenthood.

Adopting couples may choose to be known or to be anonymous to their embryo’s donors. Because embryos are considered “property” of the donating couple, an official contract must be made between the donating and the adopting families. Fertility clinics offer counseling to both parties prior to the final decision. Adoption professionals know the difference between open and closed adoption, and will help adopting parents choose what’s best. In an open adoption, the embryo’s biological mother can choose to directly or indirectly stay in touch with the adopting parents. This has been proven to be more beneficial to both parties, especially to the adopted child later on in life when questions regarding medical histories arise.

This guest post was written by Johanna Almazar, one of the dedicated writers for Pregnancy Quickstart and Your Childrens Health websites.

Be informed. Know more about pregnancy, conception and fertility. Quickstart your pregnancy now. Click here ==>

What You Need to Know About Embryo Donation and Adoption is a guest post from Maria San Pedro; editor of

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