Embryo Donation/Adoption

October 17, 2008 | By:

I am writing a law review article (that was literally due yesterday) on embryo donation/adoption and why you can’t adopt an embryo.  I am reading anything and everything I can get my hands on about embryo donation and I was surprised to discover that according to a lot of different research, most people won’t donate embryos.  The theory is that most genetic parents hesitate to donate their embryos because their children would then have full genetic siblings being raised by someone else.  However, I have four problems with this. 

(1) almost any attorney, clinic, or agency that is helping people donate embryos will discuss whether the donating “parent(s)” would want any degree of openness or contact to exist between the families; this would enable the children/siblings to meet each other at a later point in time or from day one depending on familial preference. 

(2) most of my clients who are now negotiating agreements with egg donors are REQUESTING that their donor agree to permit them to donate any unusued cryopreserved embryos for purposes of another infertile family’s conception.  In this case there clearly isn’t a full genetic link but when I discuss the issue with my client, the decision to donate doesn’t revolve around whether or not the children have full or half siblings, it’s based on a need or desire to HELP other families.

(3)  There are numerous adoptions conducted in this Country where a baby is placed for adoption when the parents are raising that baby’s full siblings.  The birth mothers who choose to make an adoption plan in this situation are already pregnant and BONDING (whether they want to or not) with the baby they are carrying.  If they can make an adoption plan under these circumstances — which in my opinion are much harder circumstances than considering donating embryos that may not implant and result in a pregnancy or live birth — than why should it be different for families with frozen embryos?

(4) I have helped people donate embryos that are full siblings to the children they created during the IVF cycle that produced the frozen embryos.  These parents had no problems with donating the embryos even though the siblings would be genetically related. 

As I sit hear reading this I realize that my article is probably going to fall on deaf ears because of the fewer than 2% of the estimated 400,000 embryos in frozen storage which are even eligible for donation (and this has to be another blog topic–why so few embryos are available for donation), most of those families won’t consent to donation.

So why aren’t people agreeing to donate embryos?  Would you donate your frozen embryos?

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