Couples who have trouble conceiving a child on their own often look to adoption as a “plan B.” They imagine joyfully holding their adopted newborn in their arms, but they also worry about the birth mother’s prenatal habits, whether she might change her mind about the adoption, and if they’ll have trouble bonding with their baby. They might also have to wait a long time for that healthy newborn.

Until recently, these were insurmountable challenges that came with adoption. But today’s couples (or singles) have another option: embryo adoption.

What is embryo adoption?

With the success of in-vitro fertilization, it is estimated that there are approximately 600,000 cryo-preserved embryos in the United States alone. About ten percent of those embryos have no future, meaning the couples who created them have no plans to use them to expand their families nor have they been donated for use in scientific research.

During embryo adoption, an adopted embryo is implanted into the adoptive mother’s uterus. For many women, getting to experience pregnancy is one of the main reasons they choose embryo adoption. In addition, the mom-to-be can take control of the health of her developing baby, bond with him before he’s born, and there is no worry about the birth mother “changing her mind” because rights to the embryo are terminated before the implantation process.

Embryo adoption is often chosen by couples:

  • To circumvent certain fertility problems
  • To become parents without the risk of passing on serious genetic disorders
  • After multiple discouraging and expensive IVF failures
  • As a quicker, less expensive and/or less emotionally challenging alternative to infant adoption.

Some people adopt embryos for the same reason that inspires many to adopt children who have already been born: simply to be both the giver and the receiver of the gift of family.