Embryo Adoption

Last Updated on July 12, 2021 by Rayna

Embryo Adoption

Embryo adoption is the opportunity for couples to adopt another couple’s embryo(s) that were created in a previous IVF cycle. As the adopting family, it’s kind of like you are the surrogate for your adopted baby. Usually, the couple who parented the embryo(s) have decided that their family is complete. As the parents of a frozen embryo, one option is to donate your embryo to another couple that cannot conceive successfully themselves. 

Opening our hearts to other options

I have a dear friend that used embryo adoption to create her family. I loved her story! But, I never considered it for our family. After lots of talk about fertility treatment, going through fertility work ups on each of us and then experiencing three failed IUI procedures, our fertility clinic recommended that we do a full 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, at the ages of 40 plus, our chances of success were 20-25%. With a price tag of over $20k (which included 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.

Embryo adoption would still allow us to adopt AND I could carry our adopted baby in my womb AND I would be able to breastfeed. Incredible!! The process consisted of us getting matched with an embryo then hiring an attorney for the embryo donation agreement (legally the process is considered a donation from the embryo’s legal parents in our state). 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.

So many questions arose

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.

What is Embryo Adoption?

Embryo adoption is the possibility for an adoptive mom to carry her adopted child in 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 adoption agency like the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption program.

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 the fertility clinics are faster than the adoption agencies. Our adoption took one month total where 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. My entire process with Audubon Fertility took one month including matching, paperwork, psychiatric evaluation, clinic work up, and legal agreements. 

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 medical situation that requires DNA for the child’s health. Your legal agreement will state the parameters of your open adoption and it really depends 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 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 that had a good rating from an awesome family in just one month. 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 to only 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.  

We will keep you updated!

Stay tuned and we will update on our progress when we are ready to share. In the waiting we ask for your prayers for God’s will to be done.

Comment below and let me know if you have any questions at all about embryo adoption.

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 and 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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