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

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Adoption? Donation? What terminology to use?

In my years of blogging about embryo adoption/donation I have encountered many different opinions about the correct terminology to use regarding the process. Most recently I was admonished for using the term "adoption". In the past it has been for using donor vs. placing parent and for use donation over adoption. I am just going to be honest, I don't think that it really matters what words you use. Really, I don't. As long as you are open with your child and love them to pieces, that is all that matters. For me, I go more the way of the donation route. We didn't do a home study, our embryos were from an anonymous donation and we view it similar to that of donor eggs or donor sperm. Do I use the term adoption? Yes, I do. Why? Because people understand it and relate to it. But do I think that adoption is a better term than donation? No. It is all in what you are comfortable with and what best describes your situation. I don't think that Maddie will be scarred because I tell her about how she came to be and use the term "share" instead of "adopt" when referring to embryos. Yet if I use adoption terms to help her understand, that is fine too.

What do you call it? Donation? Adoption? What do you call the donor couple?

And on a side note, where are my followers going?? I lost 3 in the past 48 hours? Did I offend? Am I smelly? Did I bore you??? I promise to be more entertaining and wear deodorant if you return. Maybe. ;)


  1. I was just thinking about this!! I usually refer to our "adopted embryos" when speaking about them in social settings. But when I talk to our clinic about them or in any kind of medical context, I refer to them as donor embryos. And I think that it is an embryo adoption situation whether it's anonymous donation or known donation just like an anonymous or known traditional adoption would still be adoption and not considered a donor child situation.

    One thing I hear from time to time around the donor world is using the term biological interchangeably with genetic. For example, they might say that the genetic mother of a donor egg/embryo conceived child is the biological mother. I don't feel that is true. The mother who ultimately gives birth to that child is who I would consider the biological mother. Bio=life and she gave her child life...she just did not supply the genes. The genetic mother did that! :) I can be a little picky about using this term correctly and have corrected my friends/family when referring to our donors/genetic parents as the "biological parents" of our embryos. It can be confusing for people because traditional adoption uses the term "biological" term for a birth mother. It's black and white. But obviously the lines are a little more blurred in an EDA situation. That's just my two cents.

    I don't know why you'd have followers leave. Your blog is awesome! I read all your posts even if I can't comment because comments are blocked at my work. Go figure. I'm still a fan!

  2. Hi Jess-Aaron and I personally use the term embryo adoption and we try to refer to their "donating" parents as their genetic parents/family. Although sometimes for the sake of semantics, we will refer to them as donor parents when talking with medical staff (ie. the NEDC uses the term donation and adoption). However, I don't believe that an embryo itself should be referred to as a "donated embryo." Aaron and I stand where Dr. Russell Moore stands on this issue (you can read his post here http://www.russellmoore.com/2012/09/20/should-christians-adopt-embryos/

    Here is a portion of what he writes in his article:

    "First of all, there is no such thing as a “donor embryo.”

    Someone can donate sperm or ovum or even a heart or a liver, but no one can “donate” an “embryo.” No one can “own” an “embryo.” An “embryo” isn’t a thing; he or she is a “who.” Our Lord Jesus is the pinnacle of the image of God (Heb. 1:1-3). He was an “embryo” (Luke 1:42-43). The “embryonic” John responded to our Lord’s “embryonic” presence in precisely the same way he responded to his adult presence on the banks of the Jordan River. "

    Aaron and I agree with this stance 100%. You cannot donate a person to another person and knowing that life begins at conception, an embryo is a person in his tiniest form. :)

  3. Wonderfully said Jennifer. We always say embryo adoption, but usually refer to his genetic parents as our donors. Maybe we should rethink the that characterization of "donors"?

    We have had people say straight out to us that "well, he's not REALLY adopted". We always correct them and explain. Sometimes I think other people are more comfortable with the idea of him just being a product of assisted reproduction than with recognizing him as having been adopted.

  4. Lol! The last part had me cracking up:) I'm still here!!!! I'm right with you, and say "ditto" to your post.

  5. I agree with Jenn. We use the term adoption because it sends the message that Leah was a complete person who we'be wholeheartedly made a member of our family. It's analogous the our adoption as sons and daughters of God. We want her to grow up knowing that she's adopted. We refer to her genetic origin as just that: her genetic parents. The only exception is when talking to the fertility clinic- they prefer the term donor embryo.
    But- you said it best " what really matters is that you love them to pieces."

    P.S. I love your blog. I don't comment (or update my own blog) but I still check for updates every day.

  6. I very much agtree with you. We did an anonymous embryo donation...but I refer to it as adoption all the time. It is just symantics....And I also agree with Aaron and Jennifer. Our daughter was a person...she was just suspened in her multicell state until she was transferred and grew in our womb. Personally I don't see why people have to get so hung up on the terminology.....

  7. I always refer to ours as embryo adoption, even though it was technically a donation. Like you said, it's easier understood to those who've never heard of the concept. And I would call the donor couple the genetic parents or biologic parents, although that's not always the case in donor sperm/egg situations.

  8. Ditto to Jenn & Dr. Moore.
    We call Sarah's parents her genetic/biological parents.

  9. We are using the term "Embryo Adoption". In my mind, it is truly an adoption as we were required to have a home study with NEDC. Also, we are hoping to have an open adoption with on-going communication with the donor family just like a tradition adoption. However, legally, there is no such thing as "embryo adoption" because the LAWS do not currently recognize an embryo as a person. So, "embryo adoption" would be considered "transfer of property" instead.

    As far as terms, we like using the term "genetic parents". We are adopting and giving birth to a child that has genes from another couple, but I would be the biological and birth mom because when I carry the child, he/she will share my biology (blood, fluids, etc) and I will give birth to the child. I also refer to the genetic family as "donor family" sometimes, mostly because we are still in the process of finalizing our family selection. Once the child comes to our family, we will most likely refer to them as "genetic parents" or "genetic family" as we know that they have genetic siblings.


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