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Talking, writing, educating, and change making in the field of fertility for more than twenty years

Don't Overlook Embryo Donation as a Family Building Option

There has been a lot of buzz about Embryo Donation for years now.  Whether it is about how many embryos are lying around in cold storage with no destination,  millions spent in government grants to educate patients about donating or receiving frozen embryos, or stories about what to do with frozen embryos once your family building is complete.

The fact is that Embryo Donation is made way too difficult in many places around the country – which is a real shame since it should be a fabulous, accessible and relatively easy way to build a family compared with other third party reproduction options.

Few in the general “assisted family building” community are actually advocating for embryo donation as a viable family building option. But a few stars come to mind -  Craig Sweet, MD in Florida ,  Amy Demma, Esq. and Dr. Elan Simckes in St. Louis.

What makes these two doctors unique is that they are willing to accept embryos from other programs to help their patients build a family.  Surprisingly, many IVF Centers will not accept embryos that are not created at their center – but accept eggs and sperm from outside banks.  I really don’t understand why the distinction.  Amy Demma, Esq is an attorney specializing in donor agreements and has been a real advocate for patients trying to build their families through embryo donation. When I interviewed Ms. Demma on the subject this is what she had to say:

“I have begun to hear from previous egg donation clients who now wish to donate, to a third-party for procreation, their excess embryos. It is wonderful to have colleagues like Dr. Craig Sweet in Florida  and Dr. Elan Simckes in St. Louis,  whose programs accept embryos created at other IVF centers and who are willing to work with embryos created from donor gametes. This is a win/win for my clients (the donors) who are now able to resolve their embryo disposition in a way that is most comfortable for them and  for the couples for whom IVF, egg donation or adoption are not financially or otherwise feasible , through embryo donation (anonymous or directed) they are able to pursue their dream of parenting.”

Many people overlook embryo donation as an option for family building because they get stopped along the way. Some start at highly advertised and government grant support programs such as Night Life Adoptions “SnowFlake Program”. If you are not Christian, straight, and married – they will not accept you.  Sometimes, individuals or couples that would be wonderful candidates for embryo adoption walk away from Night Life thinking that they are the only option and that they will not be eligible at other places. “Embryo Adoption” community tends towards a faith-based, conservative Christian view towards family building being reserved for hetero married couples (one agency requires couples to be married for 3 years). But don’t be put off by this – there are some progressive practitioners who share a non-discriminatory, unbiased and open approach to bringing together donors and recipients.

It’s a shame that many single prospective parents, gay couples (married or not), hetero unmarried couples have very limited options for accessing donor embryos through these bigger government grant supported programs. But there are IVF Centers who are willing to work with everyone.  Embryo Donation Advocates like Amy Demma, Esq can be invaluable to have on your side once you have found a center to work with to develop your donor agreement.

What I tell my Fertility Coaching clients all the time about Embryo Donation is that the advantage of this family building option over adoption for some couples is that they will get to experience pregnancy, child birth and breast feeding if these experiences are important to them.

In other words,if they choose Embryo Donation over Adoption they will  have complete pre-natal control over the care of their baby.  Embryo Donation allows woman to experience the great mystery of pregnancy – which is so important to so many woman.  Embryo Donation like Egg Donation gives back some of the losses that infertility brings with it. The inability to experience pregnancy,  feel your baby kick inside of you – and know that your blood is nourishing your baby. This is a very big deal for many women.

So, if you are in a turning point in your infertility journey – and beginning to explore third party family building options. Get an expert on your side – and don’t over look Embryo Donation.  It might be your answer to building your family.

About Pam Madsen
Talking, writing, educating and change making in the field of fertility for more than twenty years
1 comment on this postSubmit yours
  1. Dear Ms. Madsen,
    I saw a few errors in your blog I thought I would point out. First of all, the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption program is a branch of Nightlight Christian Adoptions and not “Night Life” as you stated in your post.
    Secondly, the Snowflakes program is not supported by a grant from the federal government. It is completely independent from any government funding. Nightlight does have a branch called the Embryo Adoption Awareness Center, which is a neutral source for information regarding the process of Embryo Donation and Adoption. You can find their website at Here they have information on all things relating to embryo donation and adoption including lists of clinic donation programs and agency donation and adoption programs from all across the U.S.
    Finally, Snowflakes does in fact accept and work with single women, non Christians and homosexuals. They also accept donor embryos from IVF clinics all over the US, much like Dr. Sweet and Dr. Simckes.
    I just thought I would help to clarify the blog post above.
    Thank you for your work helping to raise awareness of embryo donation and adoption.


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