Embryo Adoption Awareness: Answering Your Questions

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Embryo adoption is the opportunity for infertile couples to use donated embryos to grow their family. I am writing this post to answer your questions. As a mom who adopted an embryo to grow my family, I want to give back and hopefully help another family in their fertility journey. The embryo adoption process consists of adopting another couple’s extra embryos that were created in a previous in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle. 

As the adopting family, you are the surrogate for another couple’s embryo but you get to keep the baby. Usually, the couple who parented the embryos have decided that their family is complete. As the parents of the frozen embryos, one option is to become embryo donors for another couple that cannot conceive successfully themselves. This form of adoption is not well known, but for us, it has been a great experience and it was most definitely the right choice for our family. But, we did pray and research frozen embryo adoption before making our final decision.

Opening Our Hearts To Additional Fertility Treatments 

Embryo Adoption

I have a dear friend who used donor embryos to create her family. I loved her story! But, I never considered the embryo adoption process for our family. After lots of talk about fertility treatment, going through fertility workups on each of us, and then experiencing three failed IUI procedures, our fertility clinic recommended that we do a full in vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle. We prayed about IVF and then had lots of conversations to decide what was our next step. Brett and I finally decided we would continue to try to get pregnant naturally and pursue traditional adoption simultaneously.

When we looked into IVF treatment and, at the ages of 40 plus, our chances of success were 20-25%. With a price tag of over $20k (which included the ICSI treatment), we felt IVF treatment was a poor financial decision because the odds were against us. We went ahead and completed our home study for traditional adoption. And looking back I remember all the excited feelings. We could not wait to be matched with our adopted child!

However, after three miscarriages and five failed traditional adoptions, our hearts were now open to other possibilities. As an embryo recipient, my husband and I would still be able to adopt AND I could carry our adopted baby in my womb. I was also so happy that I would be able to breastfeed because of the bonding and all the benefits for the baby. Incredible!! The embryo adoption process consisted of us getting matched with an embryo donor couple and then hiring an attorney for the embryo donation legal contracts. 

Legally speaking, the process is considered a donation in our state. The embryo’s legal parents formally donate the embryo to the recipient family. Next, I would need to be cleared as healthy at the fertility clinic then we would complete a frozen embryo transfer procedure. I was 44 years old at the time and we knew we needed to make a decision. This felt right.

Most Commonly Asked Questions About Embryo Adoption

After talking to my dear friend who has the sweetest baby through embryo adoption, she recommended a local clinic for us to call to get more information. We decided we were ready to start the process! However, the new possibility of embryo adoption opened up a slew of unanswered questions. 

I was ready to carry my adopted baby but how does this work exactly? Here’s what we found out.

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What Is Embryo Adoption?

The embryo adoption process is the possibility for an adoptive mom to carry her adopted child through pregnancy. The beauty of it is that bonding starts in the womb and you will be able to breastfeed your infant. 

Unlike traditional adoption, embryo adoption allows couples to experience pregnancy, labor, and epigenetics. Epigenetics is the explanation of how the adopted embryo interacts with the adoptive mother in utero by sharing DNA (through blood) and all of the environmental factors while in utero. These include the adoptive mother’s health habits and even her emotional state while pregnant. All of these factors affect the outcome of the unborn child. 

Where Can I Adopt An Embryo?

Couples can adopt embryos from their local fertility clinic (or any fertility clinic across the country or internationally that offers this service) or through an embryo donation program like the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption program. Generally speaking, donor couples are looking for a loving family for their unused embryos. 

How Much Does It Cost To Adopt An Embryo?

The cost of embryo adoption is significantly less expensive than full IVF treatment and traditional adoption. The cost depends on what your insurance covers but in general it is about $5k to $10k for one frozen embryo transfer. For comparison purposes, full IVF treatment is about $15 to $20k (unless covered by insurance). Traditional adoption is anywhere from $30k to $50k. 

What Is The Age Limit For Embryo Adoption?

There is no legal age limit for embryo adoption but some fertility clinics stop offering frozen embryo transfers after age 45. Other clinics will go up to age 58 pending the mother is healthy and able to carry a pregnancy full term. If you’re over 40 like me, there is still hope!

How Long Does It Take To Adopt An Embryo?

In my experience, fertility clinics are faster than adoption agencies. Our adoption took one month in total whereas a friend of mine who used the embryo adoption agency took four months to match then they had to do all the paperwork and legal agreements before the embryo transfer. My entire process with Audubon Fertility took one month including matching, paperwork, psychiatric evaluation, clinic workup, and legal agreements. Also, the fertility clinic embryo adoption process did not require home studies in our state (Louisiana). 

How Open Is Open Adoption?

After getting matched with an embryo donor family, you and the family will decide on how open you want your adoption. When speaking with our IVF Coordinator she said the decision is solely up to us and the donors. She has seen couples do play dates together with siblings from both families and she has seen families that just exchange pictures once a year. Almost all donor families make themselves available to the child in case of a medical situation that requires DNA for the child’s health. Your legal agreement will state the parameters of your open adoption and the details depend on what you are comfortable with.

How Did God Open Our Hearts For Embryo Adoption?

In 2019, two years before ever considering embryo adoption, I heard the Holy Spirit speak directly to my heart. These are the words I heard, “You will adopt from the fruit of your womb.” I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt I had heard these words and I even shared them with my bible study group.

I prayed into it and did not receive much more revelation other than the words themselves. To be honest, in my mind, I just thought it meant that I would adopt and have a child naturally. When we were asked in 2021 why we haven’t ever considered embryo adoption, Holy Spirit reminded me of this word He gave me. After that, it was crystal clear to me and Brett that embryo adoption was our path to take.

We called our fertility clinic and had the best experience as far as our fertility journey is concerned. We were matched with an embryo from the donating couple. Our embryo had already gone through genetic testing and had a good rating from the embryologist. The next month we decided to do our first transfer. We committed to do two transfers in case the first one did not take. And we decided only to transfer one embryo at a time. Transferring only one embryo at a time was the recommendation of our fertility doctor and we trust her wholeheartedly. 

Our Embryo Adoption Success Story

I am updating this post to tell you all that we did adopt a baby girl and had a successful pregnancy on our first try. I don’t think words will ever do justice in expressing our gratitude for the embryo adoption process and of course to her genetic parents. We are beyond grateful. 

Seeing that positive pregnancy test was the joy of our lives!! My prayer is for God to encourage you as you read our fertility story knowing in your heart that He will do it again for YOU and your family. Experiencing the birth of a child with my husband has been the most incredible answer to prayer. The generosity of another family led us to our baby. We continue to have an open adoption with the donor parents and the other recipient couples from our embryo batch, which has been an amazing experience as well. God knew what we needed!! The donating family sets up events for all of us to meet at least once a year. It’s been so wonderful. 

Comment below and let me know if you have any questions at all about embryo adoption or reproductive medicine. My husband and I have gone through the gamut of testing and fertility treatments and are happy to tell you about our experience. 

I have shared my fertility journey to encourage you in ANY promise you’re waiting for. Just like it says in Hebrews 10:23, these blog posts are a confession of my hope. God will answer for you just like He did for me. He is faithful!!

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

Hebrews 10:23, NKJV

To read more about my fertility journey check out these blog posts:

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