Our journey through infertility, failed adoptions and now parenthood through the miracle of embryo adoption/donation.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Just what is Embryo Adoption?

I was reading a comment on a blog that was asking some questions about EA and I realized just how foreign of a concept it is to someone that has never heard of it before. I first learned of EA about 3 or 4 years ago so I have had time to learn much about it and take it for granted that everyone knows about it. But that is not true for many people and I want to take a few moments to explain just what EA is and how it is accomplished.

Embryo Adoption vs. Embryo Donation

You will hear these two terms used interchangeably when researching embryo adoption (EA) and may wonder what the difference is. There really is no difference between the two, though the term adoption is used when a home study is required and donation is used when the procedure is done through a clinic with an anonymous donation. Some prefer the term adoption to donation for personal reasons, but in the end they are the same thing.

What IS embryo adoption/donation?

When a couple undergoes IVF to add to their family ofttimes there are embryos that are frozen for later use. Sometimes the couple are unable to use these embryos (family is complete, cannot afford more treatments, spouse passes away, health reasons, etc) and the couple must choose the fate of these tiny frozen lives. They have three options:

1) Donate them for research
2) Discard them
3) Allow another couple to use them

Option number 3 is where EA comes in to play. This couple can either donate them anonymously to a clinic for another couple to use or they can choose a family for a more open donation/adoption. The recipient couple then has the embryos thawed and transferred to the woman. If it results in a pregnancy she will, in all actuality, be carrying and giving birth to her adopted child. The child(ren) will not share any genetics with the recipient couple. This makes it a great option for couples that have no sperm or egg issues as neither of which are used from the recipient couple.

How much does EA cost?

The costs vary tremendously by clinic and whether you choose to go the "adoption" route or the "donation" route. It can be as little as $1500 and go up to about $8000.

How long does it take for a match?

This varies as well. Some couples use the site Miracle's Waiting and have been matched in just days, others years. Most clinics have a wait list of about 6-12 months, but again, this can vary. Ours took about a month through our clinic.

Embryo Adoption is very near and dear to my heart as my little Maddie is here (or almost here) because of this miracle. We went through a clinic and it was anonymous so we do not know the donor couple. But I love them! Their selfless gift gave us the chance to be parents. And after 11 long years we honestly never thought that this would be possible. But it is also a wonderful choice because it gets these little babycicles out of the freezer and gives them a chance at life.

If anyone has questions about EA please feel free to ask me! And if I cannot answer your questions I am sure that there are other bloggers more than willing to answer them for you.


  1. We are thinking one day we will do embryo adoption. Not sure exactly when. In a perfect world that I control all the circumstances, the answer is within the next 5 years.

  2. Wonderful post, been thinking I need to do a similar post soon to help explain the process & what exactly it is for family/friends...I've been getting a lot of the same questions. Like you I forget not everyone knows about EA! Been thinking about you guys a lot, excitedly anticipating Maddie's entrance into the world:)

  3. Can't wait for news of Maddie's arrival- will your honey post the news or can you from the hospital?


  4. I have to respectfully disagree: I think there is a huge difference between EA and ED. But thank you for trying to get the word out just the same.


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