November 15, 2022

Why is Embryo Donation a Type of Adoption?

Did you know embryo adoption has been in existence for 25 years?

While National Adoption Month in November celebrates the beauty of adoption, embryo adoption often goes unnoticed. Despite the participation of thousands of families over the years, it is not always recognized as a distinct form of adoption.

Embryo donation and embryo adoption, though separate concepts, are frequently mistaken for one another. In typical embryo donation programs, donors create embryos through IVF and can donate the remaining embryos to another family. However, the process lacks adequate regulation, with clinics often handling the matching of families and paperwork internally. This can result in a fragmented embryo cohort, with limited communication and documentation between donor and recipient families.

Embryo adoption, on the other hand, incorporates all the best practices of adoption into embryo donation. Adoptive families receive a child who is not genetically related to them, similar to other forms of adoption. A rigorous process is in place, requiring adopting families to undergo a home study, including background checks, psychological evaluations, education, and home and post-birth visits. The adoption is formalized through a contract under property law.

Similar to domestic infant adoption, embryo donors and adoptive families choose each other and determine the level of communication they are comfortable with. More information is shared between families in embryo adoption than in typical embryo donation programs. Adopting families receive the donor family’s profile and medical histories, allowing the adoptive child to know about their genetic background. The aim is to place genetic siblings together, and families are encouraged to openly discuss the adoptive child's adoption history.

The overarching goal of the embryo adoption process is to provide safe homes for babies born from embryos. Adherence to the best practices of adoption ensures the safety of the embryos.

Controversies surrounding embryo adoption often stem from a lack of understanding about its nature and how it differs from typical embryo donation programs. Additionally, debates persist about the personhood of an embryo and whether it possesses the same rights as a child. Despite this, the outcome of any embryo donation and adoption program is placing a child in a family not genetically related to them. Adopting families should be ready to parent, and placing families can rest assured that their child is placed in a loving home.

Embryo adoption is a remarkable form of adoption worth celebrating this month. In fact, 1,500 Snowflakes babies have already been born, showcasing the positive impact of embryo adoption.

Join us in celebrating the families and children touched by this beautiful form of adoption. To learn more about the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program, visit

By Krista Jones

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