Why is Embryo Donation a Type of Adoption?

 

Did you know that embryo adoption has existed for 25 years?

National Adoption Month is recognized in November, where adoption agencies and families celebrate the beauty of adoption. However, embryo adoption is often overlooked. Why is it not considered a form of adoption even though thousands of families have participated in it for years?

Embryo donation and embryo adoption are two separate concepts, but are often confused as the same.

In typical embryo donation programs, the donor family creates embryos through IVF and can donate the remaining embryos to a family. However, the practice is not well regulated. Often clinics “in-house” will match the families and process all the paperwork. It is a hard and extensive process, and many clinics do not even find it worth the work to have an embryo donation program at their practice. The embryo cohort can be split up and often little communication or documentation is made between the donor and recipient family.

With embryo adoption, all the best practices of adoption are applied to embryo donation. In the end, the adoptive family will be receiving a child that is not genetically related to them, just like any form of adoption. Adopting families should feel prepared in how to parent their adoptive child, and placing families should feel assured that their embryos are going to a safe and loving home.

All adopting families are required to complete a home study which includes background checks, psychological evaluations, education, and home and post-birth visits. The adoption is finalized through a contract under property law.

Similarly to a domestic infant adoption, donors and recipients also choose each other and can decide the form of communication they are comfortable with. Families are given more information about each other than in a typical embryo donation program. Adopting families are given the donor family’s profile and medical histories so their adoptive child can know about their genetic background. The desire is that genetic siblings are placed together and families are encouraged to be open to discussing with the adoptive child of their adoption history.

The goal of embryo adoption is to provide safe homes for embryos who then become children. The only way to ensure the safety of the embryos is to apply the best practices of adoption.

The controversy over embryo adoption is often affiliated with the lack of knowledge about what it truly is and how it differs from typical embryo donation programs. There is also the ongoing controversy over the personhood of an embryo. Do embryos have the same rights as a child? The topic is still debated, but ultimately, the end result of any embryo donation and adoption program is a child being placed in a family that is not genetically related to them. The adopting family should be prepared to parent this child and placing families should be assured that their child is placed in a loving home.

Embryo adoption is another great form of adoption to celebrate this month. In fact, 1,000 Snowflakes babies will be born in just a few months! All these children would not have a home if embryo adoption did not exist. Join us in celebrating the families and children touched by this beautiful form of adoption.

To learn more about Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program, visit Snowflakes.org.

Embryo Adoption Grants and Scholarships

 

Starting the embryo adoption journey through the Snowflakes program can be very exciting, but the financial component can take people by surprise. Adopting embryos does indeed have a cost, but the good news is that there are grants, scholarships, and loans out there that can help fund your fees for the adoption process, fertility treatments, and both!

See below for our compiled list of grants and scholarships that can help you through your embryo adoption journey!

  • Baby Quest Foundation Grants: This grant is awarded two times a year, between the amount of $2,000-$16,000. It can be applied to the embryo adoption process and is open to all who are permanent residents of the U.S.
  • Cade Foundation Family Building Grant: This grant is offered twice per year—spring and fall. Awards up to $10,000 per funded family to help with costs of medical infertility treatments. Applicants must have a diagnosis of infertility from their doctor and must be legal, permanent U.S. residents.
  • Footprints of Angels: Footprints of Angels is a nonprofit organization supporting women impacted by recurrent miscarriages and infertility. This grant states it will cover the costs associated with third-party reproduction, which includes embryo donation and adoption. Applicants must be citizens or legal residents of the U.S. and have a diagnosis of infertility certified by a medical provider.
  • The Hope for Fertility National Grant: This grant can be applied to the embryo adoption process, FET expenses, and blood work and tests. It cannot be applied to expenses for travel or medication. The grant is available to couples who are married, legal residents of the U.S., and have been officially diagnosed with infertility by a medical professional.
  • Gift of Parenthood: This grant helps couples and individuals struggling with infertility achieve their dreams of becoming parents through fertility assistance grants ranging from $8,000 to $15,000, available four times a year. This grant can be applied to embryo donation or adoption expenses. All applicants must be uninsured for fertility treatments, and treatments must occur at a Snowflakes partner fertility clinic that is a member of SART.
  • Nightlight Foundation Grant Program: Nightlight Foundation (formerly “Babushka Fund”) assists families who might not otherwise be able to afford the costs of adoption for a child who might not otherwise be adopted. A grant committee will review applications and make awards of $500 to $5,000 (with an average gift of $1000) to prospective adopting families. This grant could be available to Snowflake’s families who are adopting embryos through the Open Hearts Program.
  • Adoption Bridge: While this is not specifically a grant, this can be a great resource for raising funds that any grants may not cover. Nightlight’s crowdfunding website is where you can tell your embryo adoption story, post pictures, and videos, and keep people informed about what’s going on. You can accept donations from your friends and family, and these funds are sent directly to Nightlight.

This is not an extensive list, but it is a great way to start your research! Nightlight also offers all clients the opportunity to connect with our Family Resource Specialist who assists families in identifying funding resources for their adoption fees.  To learn more about embryo adoption or donation through Snowflakes, visit Snowflakes.org.

By: Paige Zapf

What if we are Catholic…can we still pursue embryo adoption?

“We are solving a problem that already exists.”

This is the simple answer we give for why embryo adoption is permissible, even if one has reservations about in vitro fertilization.  In fact, since embryos are human beings, then not only is embryo adoption permissible: it is actually obligatory!

The Catholic Church takes a firm stance on in vitro fertilization (IVF): it’s a non-starter for infertile Catholic couples. The church issued a document in 1987 called the Donum Vitae (DV), or “The Gift of Life,” which clearly outlined its stance on alternative family building methods. The document stated that if technology aided a couple in achieving pregnancy, it was okay. If it replaced the marital act that led to pregnancy, though, it wasn’t – so that ruled out IVF as an option for Catholic couples facing an infertility diagnosis.

But where does that leave embryo adoption?

While the reason these embryos exist in the first place has been condemned by the Catholic Church, it also takes the stance that all children are worthy of love and respect no matter how they were conceived. Father Thomas Williams addressed this controversial issue in an interview with Catholic.org. In the interview, he states that the question should not be how these children came into existence, but what we can do now to help them.

“Given the current state of medical science,” Father Williams says, “the only thing that can be done to save the lives of those persons is gestation in a woman’s womb. Most women aren’t called to make this sacrifice, but those who feel called should not be discouraged from doing so.”  You can read the full interview with Father Williams for more information on the moral and theological implications of embryo adoption.

Noted Catholic ethicist, Dr. Elizabeth Rex, has written extensively on the permissibility of Snowflakes®, noting that embryo adoption does not violate the sacred bond of marriage, and fulfills our obligation to save human lives. She says of Donum Vitae, “the human embryo must be treated as a person from the first instant of its conception (DV I.1) and it also declares as ‘licit’ and even ‘desirable’ all therapeutic procedures that ‘are directed toward [the human embryo’s] healing, the improvement of its condition of health, or its individual survival.’ (DV I.3).”  If Donum Vitae sees as desirable all procedures which are directed toward an embryo’s survival, then surely embryo adoption is permissible.

We have recorded a video about the Catholic View of Embryo Adoption presented by two Catholic doctors.

–Daniel Nehrbass, Ph.D.

Season of Giving

Christmas is a time of excitement. Stores are bustling, shoppers are busy, and there is a sense of anticipation in the air as we prepare for the holidays with friends, family, food, and gift-giving. In the back of your mind, you think again about your frozen embryos sitting in storage…

Is this the season to give the ultimate gift of a family to those who cannot have a family themselves?

 Perhaps you are unable to use all of the embryos you have created using IVF, and now the thought of discarding them or donating them to science does not seem like the right choice anymore. But there are other choices—gifting them to another family! Embryo donation through the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program allows families who are complete to give their remaining embryos to another family so they may complete their own family like you! You created the embryos in the first place to hopefully become a living, breathing baby. You can still choose life for your embryos!

Christmas is a reminder that family and kindness are of utmost importance. Seeing loved one’s faces light up from an exciting gift is often more gratifying than receiving a gift yourself. Embryo donation through Snowflakes empowers you to have a choice in the family who received your gift of embryos. Choose to give the greatest gift of life to not only a family but your embryos.

To learn more about the donation process, visit Snowflakes.org.

Gestational Carriers and Embryo Adoption

Surrogacy for pregnancy and gestational carriers seem to often be a trending topic online. We all know that social media can be a source of very helpful connections and information, but it is not always the best source of truth.

Here are some of the myths surrounding surrogacy/gestational carriers and embryo adoption that we have heard that we want to clear up!

  • MYTH: A “gestational carrier” is the same as a “surrogate”
    • If a woman is a “surrogate”, that means that she is biologically related to the baby she is carrying. A “gestational carrier” does not share any genetics with the baby she carries. In embryo adoption, if the adopting mother is not carrying the child herself, then they will utilize a “gestational carrier” because there is no genetic link between the embryo and the woman carrying the baby.
  • MYTH: You can save fees by using the DIY method to find a gestational carrier
    • When considering the gestational carrier option, the cost can be prohibitive unless you happen to know someone who is willing to be a surrogate on your behalf. Even then the costs can be high, and this is not an area where saving money should be the biggest priority.
  • MYTH: I need to adopt embryos before the gestational carrier agreement is drafted by an attorney.
    • It is important that the details of the gestational carrier agreement be settled before an embryo adoption match is made. Be sure to find a local family law attorney who is skilled in the field of assisted reproductive technology. The agreement between the embryo adopting family and the gestational carrier needs to include details such as:
      • Willingness to travel to the appropriate clinic for the frozen embryo transfer(s)
      • Details on how many transfers the gestational carrier is comfortable with
      • Confirmation that the carrier has been screened to carry a pregnancy
      • The fine points of how many embryos the gestational carrier is comfortable with transferring at any one time
  • MYTH: What my acquaintance in Texas knows about gestational carriers and how to navigate the process must apply to me in Florida.
    • Be really careful here. The laws surrounding surrogacy and gestational carrying are very specific and vary different from state to state.

If you are considering embryo adoption using a gestational carrier, be encouraged. Families have managed this in the past without issue…just be aware that there are still a few important things to consider and plan for.

You can learn more about Embryo Adoption on our website. See more details on gestational carriers on pages 30-31 of our Embryo Donation and Adoption FAQ Booklet.

Is 2021 Your Year to Donate?

 

The turn of a new year tends to bring about themes of renewal, fresh starts, decision making, and conquering goals. For those of you who have found yourself at the end of your IVF journey, you may have come face to face with the decision this past year of what is to be done with your remaining embryos. This decision may be one you never thought you’d have to face and wish you didn’t have to. It may seem daunting, or you may not feel emotionally prepared, but it is never too early to search out the answers you seek. Now is a good time to take the first step.

The Donation Option

Have you ever looked into embryo donation and adoption? Did you know there was such a thing as an adoption model for donating your embryos? The thought of your embryos belonging to someone else may be one that seems unbearable, but many who have faced these fears have found placement through an adoption program was right for them.

Reasons to Donate:

  • Embryo donation is a life-giving option for your embryos!
  • Through embryo donation with adoption agencies such as the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program, you have the ability to choose who will adopt your embryos and the peace of mind that they have been deemed physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially prepared to raise a family by adoption agency professionals.
  • You created your embryos because you wanted a family. Now you can help someone else do the same.
  • Certain embryo adoption agencies (like Snowflakes) allow for communication with adoptive families and updates on children born from the embryos.
  • Many clinics will not accept embryos that have been frozen before a certain date. The sooner you donate your embryos, the more likely they are to be accepted by an adoptive family’s clinic.
  • Storage costs have become difficult to manage.

Take the First Step

It all starts with one simple step: asking questions. Often, it is the fear of the unknown that keeps us from moving forward.

Where to Start:

In this New Year, make your resolution one of gaining knowledge, educating yourself, and taking time to reflect on tough questions and emotions you may have been avoiding. The fear of the unknown can be crippling. The good news is that one small step can be all you need to allow yourself to take another, and then another, and then just one more until you find the answers and peace of mind you have been seeking.

To learn more about embryo donation, visit EmbyroAdoption.org.

 

Help Nightlight Christian Adoptions Win $20K!

Comcast Innovations for EntrepreneursHave you heard?! Nightlight has been chosen as one of 30 finalists in Comcast’s Innovations 4 Entrepreneurs contest! We need your help to be chosen as a one of six Grand Prize Winners that will win $20,000!

We entered the contest to gain funding that can help make the process of adopting easier for potential parents. Not only would we be able to help potential parents complete the adoption process online, we’d help them prepare for their adopted child by introducing an online education process. In order to meet these goals, we need to gain access to some existing software programs, which can often be expensive. And with that, we’d like to be able to customize the software to include some embryo adoption-specific enhancements.

At Nightlight, we’re all about helping more babies be born out of frozen storage with our Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program. We also work to raise awareness about embryo adoption through the Embryo Adoption Awareness Center, which Nightlight runs. With more than 600,000 embryos in frozen storage in the U.S., our goal is to help them become the children they were meant to be, which we do by matching donor parents with adopting parents through an open adoption process.

So how can you help? Visit cbcommunity.comcast.com/i4e/vote, and vote daily through May 13, 2016. Only one vote per person, per day will count to help us out, so help us spread the word through social media!

Learn more about Comcast Business’ Innovations 4 Entrepreneurs contest online, and see our full essay on the voting page. Thank you for your vote!

Nightlight on the Dr. Phil Show

This past Friday, April 25th, Nightlight Christian Adoptions’ Executive Director Daniel Nehrbass was a guest on the Dr. Phil Show, delivering some much needed good news to a couple caught up in the middle of a domestic adoption scam.

To learn more about how Nightlight’s Domestic, International, Foster and Embryo Adoption Programs can help you build your family please visit Nightlight.org.