From the freezer to the womb; the option of embryo adoption

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) — Parents who use in vitro fertilization to grow their families can donate their leftover embryos to some adoption agencies.

Mariah Bundrick, Director of Nightlight Christian Adoption’s Missouri chapter said embryo adoption gives those donating their embryos another option besides indefinite frozen storage, research or destruction. 

The Snowflake program started in 1997 and was the first of its kind. Since then over 700 babies have been born through embryo adoption.

"Biological parents of the embryo can help choose the adoptive parents if they desire,” Bundrick told KMOX.

According to Nightlight’s website, 1,600 families have donated their embryos to Nightlight. The embryos are typically not split up among families, allowing for adoptive parents to have siblings that are biologically related. However, if there are 20 or more excess embryos in one family, Nightlight will allow more those embryos to be adopted by more than one family.

 Nightlight’s website boasts a picture slide show of a multitude of children born through embryo donation.

Bundrick explained that parents who adopt embryos get the opportunity to birth their adoptive children, and the process is the cheapest adoption option other than going through the foster care system. It gives parents, who may not have the tens of thousands of dollars for IVF treatment, a chance to have a baby.

As for the chances of it working?

"Greater than a 50 percent chance," Bundrick says. "It’s a bit of a process, but the numbers are impressive.”

What about legal issues with embryo adoption? It all falls under contract law, since the embryos are considered property. Once they’re donated, they leave the hands of the biological parents and no legal claim can be made on children born through embryo adoption.

The adoptive parents are on the birth certificate and there are no court dates. 

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