There are now well over one million embryos frozen in storage in the United States, many left over by people who have completed their families through IVF. Rather than discarding the frozen embryos or donating them to science, many families are now choosing to put their embryos up for adoption to give them a chance at life.
Embryo adoption is the newest nationwide trend in adoption and is gaining a lot of popularity. In fact, the 500th baby was born last month to a loving and adoptive family as part of the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption program. This program allows couple to adopt embryos, some of which have been frozen for more than a decade, to become healthy, happy babies and children!
Couples who have used donated embryos to achieve pregnancy have learned that genetics really don’t matter at all, says Kimberly Tyson, director of the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption program. What matters is they experienced what it was like to be pregnant and give birth to their child, the child they adopted just nine months earlier than ‘normal’.
The babies born this unique and special way to their adoptive parents are known as “Snowflake Babies“. The Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program is celebrating its 20th anniversary since being first established in 1997 as the first program of its kind in the world.
Since that time, more than 1,400 babies have been born to families following an embryo adoption model. Working with fertility clinics, the program allows couples to place their remaining embryos from their in vitro fertilization treatment with a family of their choice, just like with traditional adoption of a live child.
The difference is actually a bonus: the woman who gives birth to this non-genetic child is declared the legal mother of the child on the birth certificate and the man to whom she is married is declared the father. No court finalizations are necessary to affirm parentage, as with adoption.
There is a higher cost than simple frozen embryo transfer at a clinic.
“That’s because the adoption agency is providing both families with security of the placement,” Tyson declares. “The agency is encouraging an open relationship between two families who are both parenting full genetic siblings. The agency is helping the right two families connect with one another. No secrecy.”
Many embryo adoption organizations have embryos waiting for families to adopt them, she adds. “Families placing their embryos for adoption are attracted to the fact they can have some control regarding who receives their embryo gift.”
Editor’s note: In vitro fertilization, surrogacy and other artificial means of impregnating a woman who eventually gives birth to a human child are excellent ways for couples struggling to have a baby achieve their dream.
However, these processes are also controversial for Catholics, pro-lifers, like myself, and others who struggle over the fact that fertilized eggs that would otherwise develop into a human child, but are leftover or unwanted are destroyed every year.
Embryo adoption provides some comfort in knowing that the leftover eggs are saved and donated to other couples who cannot conceive on their own; or women who want a baby but are without a partner. Bravo!