I know that I have blogged about this subject before, but a recent post on the Embryo Adoption Awareness Face.book page has resurrected my thoughts about it all. I want to start of by saying that I am in no way 'against' this agency or any agency. My intent is not to be negative towards them, but to share another side of the whole adoption vs donation debate.
First, what is the difference? Or is there a difference? The answer is yes. And no. Legally speaking there is not such thing as adopting an embryo. It is a transfer of property. The process, however, is different. Adoption is when you go through an agency that will match you with embryos and they require a home study. The 'adoption' can be open, closed or semi-open. For donation it can be a match made by two people or through a clinic which is usually anonymous and no home study is required. As for the terms "adopted" and donated" they are often used interchangeably. Partly because, regardless of which route you take, many people feel that since the embryos are not genetically related that they are adopted. Also, it is because adopted is an easier term to understand. Adoption is also a better term to use when discussing origins with a child created via donated embryos.
The debate comes mainly from those that believe that life begins at conception AND fights for Personhood. My personal stance is that life begins at conception, yet I disagree with Personhood laws on many levels and cannot support it as currently written. The staunch 'donation' side is usually those that do not support Personhood and many RE's, especially those with donation programs.
So which is right, donation or adoption? The answer is both. There is a need for both and each side needs to recognize it. People choose a route for many different reasons. For some, especially those supporting Personhood, adoption is a very important choice and they choose an embryo adoption agency. Others choose the adoption route because of success rates, many available embryos, wanting an open 'adoption', etc. Those that choose donation may have some of the same feelings as those choosing adoption, but choose donation for their own reasons. Some of which are lack of funds (EA programs are typically more expensive), prefer not to do a home study, cannot pass a home study (maybe a health issue, or a bad past that has been overcome, single, gay, or not a Christian, etc), disagree with a home study, or other reasons.
Each side has benefits and flaws. An anonymous clinic program does not offer a way for donors, recipients and children to meet. Children may want to find their genetic family one day but it could be almost impossible. Donors are also not told how many, if any, children are born. Also, embryos can go to several couples and genetic children born with each of them. Some clinics do not offer much in the way of medical history and some will mix embryos for two couples leaving the recipient not knowing which couple it came from. Many of these issues can be corrected quite easily if a clinic wanted to make the changes. An EDA registry would be a great place to start. Also, donors should have access to how many couples the embryos went to and how many children were born. Another things would be to allow donors and recipients to make contact if both wanted to do so. Not through the clinic as this would be a service that many would not have time for, but to allow for an exchange of information. And last, but not least, records should automatically be available to a child once they turn 18 years old.
On the adoption side they could make it more affordable. Embryos Alive gives the option of a home study or a dossier. If more agencies did this more people would use their programs. Also, more matching agencies that allowed couples that were not Christian, gay, or single to utilize their program. I do not, in any way, expect a Christian agency to accept those that do not meet their criteria. They have the right to to refuse those that do not meet their specifications. But secular agencies would help to make embryos available to those that do not meet the current criteria at the established agencies. Lowering fees would help as well. Some of the fees for the agencies are quite high and when you have spent $20k on IVF you may not have the funds to spend another $10k on embryo adoption.
There is good and bad with either route you choose. But having both of these options along with Miracle's Waiting and California Conceptions allow for people to make the right choice for them. It bother me when one side comes out swinging against the other. All fulfill the needs of the donors and recipients. All of them need to exist. But bashing one is not going to help bring about change.