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Embryo donation and embryo adoption – new family building options

The Katie Show recently featured a segment on embryo donation and adoption. A couple, Dan and Keli Gassman, who adopted an embryo in order to have their son, shared their story with the audience.

Although the terms embryo donation and embryo adoption are sometimes used interchangeably, there are some differences that are worth noting. In either situation, individuals or couples who have gone through in vitro fertilization and have completed their families, have ended up with additional frozen embryos that they have decided they will never use. Some ask to have the embryos destroyed or agree that they can be used for research. However, some choose to donate these embryos to individuals and couples who otherwise would not be able to have a child.

Embryo donations are typically facilitated through fertility clinics. The clinic usually selects the recipient individual or couple, who are often (but not always) patients at the fertility clinic. In a known embryo donation, the donors may take part in the selection of the individual or couple who will receive their embryos, and there is some possibility for future contact between the donors and recipients. In an anonymous embryo donation, the fertility clinic selects the recipients, and the option of future contact between the donors and recipients is typically not available.

Embryo adoption programs treat the embryo donation process like an adoption. That means the recipient individual or couple – the intended parent(s) – must undergo the same processes involved in a “traditional” adoption such as home studies, legal contracts, and pre- and post-adoption education and information sessions. There are agencies in Canada, the UK, Australia, and the US that facilitate these adoptions.

Regulations including medical and mental health screening and laws around embryo donation and embryo adoption may differ within countries based on provincial or state laws. If you are considering embryo adoption or donation you should familiarize yourself with the laws in your geographical area.

Learn more about embryo donation in the US here.

Read more about embryo donation in Canada here.

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