Embryo Adoption

When you think of adoption, you likely think about it in the traditional sense of the word: adopting a child or an infant. However, recently, there has been more awareness about embryo adoption including what it is, how it works, and the costs associated with embryo adoption. Embryo adoption has become discussed more in the media in recent years and as more people end up storing additional embryos following their own IVF treatment and pregnancies, the conversations around what to do with these embryos has become more prevalent. 

What is embryo adoption?

If a couple or individual has embryos still available after going through in vitro fertilization, they may have additional embryos that they don’t plan to use that they store (at a fairly high cost). In many cases, these people look to place these embryos for adoption with others seeking to become parents. Embryo adoption has also been referred to as “snowflake adoption” recently, as the embryos that are adopted have been cryopreserved (or frozen)  after an IVF treatment. In 2016, the CDC reported that there were more than 260,000 attempts at in vitro fertilization and of those attempts, about 150,000 resulted in transfers of embryos. 

Like traditional adoption, an embryo is adopted and then implanted in a woman’s uterus and then, has about the same percentage of success as IVF. It is something more women that want to carry a child have begun to consider in opposition to traditional adoption. Though many donate their unused embryos, there is still a cost associated with the process.

What is the cost of embryo adoption?

Though in most cases the embryos themselves are donated, the transfer and IVF that go along with this can be costly depending on insurance. The New York Times notes that though “adoption can cost tens of thousands of dollars,” a single round of IVF “can run between $12,000 and $17,000” and embryo donation “costs an average of $8,000.” As with any adoption, there is a risk that you can spend money without bringing a child into your family. In fact, the CDC notes that “the national average pregnancy rate for embryo adoption is 50% and the national average birth rate is 40%.” The statistics of successful pregnancy rate run similarly to IVF. According to WebMD.com, “a woman who is under age 35 and undergoes IVF has a 39.6% chance of having a baby, while a woman over age 40 has an 11.5% chance. However, the CDC recently found that the success rate is increasing in every age group as the techniques are refined and doctors become more experienced.”

Costs for adoption and infertility treatments can all range based on location, insurance, and even grants, so know that costs can vary and it’s best to do your research. Like adoption, costs are never the same for any one person depending on how they go about the process and what agencies help them navigate it. There can be varying fees as well.

Cost can be a factor when considering embryo adoption, but there are additionally current debates about the ethics of storing excess embryos, the donation of these embryos, and regarding those who choose to adopt them.

Is embryo adoption ethical?

This is a difficult concept and it depends on your background and beliefs as to how you feel about this. Many people who have embryos either choose to donate them or place them for adoption because the reality is that if the embryo is thawed, it is no longer viable and in the eyes of many, is considered dead. Yet, there are numerous people that leave them frozen and continue to pay a fee to store them because they have no idea what to do with them. According to womenshealth.gov, “about 10 percent of women (6.1 million) in the United States have difficulty getting pregnant,” so embryo adoption is an option for those who have exhausted other options as well. Additionally, there is a new struggle with abandoned embryos in facilities. This article notes that nearly 20% of all frozen embryos have been abandoned. 

More recently, embryo adoption and embryo storage has made headlines as both Real Housewives of Orange County star, Emily Simpson, Modern Family’s Sofia Vergara made headlines as they have decided what to do with embryos that they still have frozen. There are a lot of concerns about who owns an embryo and who has the rights to it once it is stored and there is potentially no intent to use them to attempt a viable pregnancy.

Overall, you have to think about your own beliefs and what way is best for you to build your family. 

How to learn more about Embryo Adoption

Many agencies offer information about embryo adoption and in fact, your adoption agency or social worker may be able to suggest resources. You may know someone with embryo’s they’re willing to adopt, but ensure that you go through the proper legal channels as you navigate this as emotions run high when adoption and becoming a parent is involved. There are multiple resources for children about Embryo Adoption that can help those who have been born as a result of embryo adoption.

For more information about embryo adoption through Adoption Choice, Inc. and for additional resources, please click here