Embryo Donation: Is it the right family building option for you?

Embryo Donation: Is it the right family building option for you?

Often, when contacted by a client considering egg donation, one of the first matters we address is cost. Prospective parents come to collaborative reproduction typically after a long traveled infertility journey. Sadly, since patients are all too often self-pay, by the time they get to my office, finances are running low. Most folks assume that the legal costs associated with family building through donor egg or donor embryo is a big-ticket item, in fact, at most firms the fees related to donor agreements and legal counsel around collaborative family building are quite reasonable.

Still, though, for some, the agency fees, the egg donor compensation in addition to the IVF as well as the medication costs for the egg donor may just be too prohibitive and this is where family building with donated embryos becomes a consideration. (Couples that are dealing with both a female and male infertility issue also often consider donated embryos.) While embryos available for donation are not as readily available as donor egg, I encourage prospective parents that if costs (and/or time) are the barriers to family building, that with professional guidance, embryos can, in fact, be located.

How does one become informed about the issues related to donor embryo? In my office there is very little that I will do before first suggesting that my client also engage a mental health professional. Embryo donation and family building in this manner can be emotionally and psychologically challenging. Prospective parents have to become comfortable and accepting that they will be parenting a child or children to whom they are lacking a genetic connection. Also, typically donors of residual (excess) embryos have successfully built a family and therefore, the recipient must also be able to proceed forward knowing that their child will have full genetic siblings and may, depending on the intentions of the recipients regarding disclosure and/or the terms of the Embryo Donation Agreement, not have any contact or even knowledge of those siblings. These are tough issues, for sure. And these are issues that can and should be sorted out with a mental health professional who has experience in collaborative reproduction – but here’s the good news, these are issues that for many can be and are resolved. Your clinic, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, Fertility Authority, RESOLVE (see my Resources section) all have information that can help you identify a local mental health professional – my clients who do so are so much better prepared for alternative family formation.

From a legal perspective, family building with donor embryos looks very similar to family building with donor eggs. The donors relinquish rights to the embryos (including parental rights) and the recipients accept and obligate themselves to parentage and the responsibilities related to parenting. Other matters will also be addressed by your attorney but those considering family building with embryo donation should understand that costs, time and other logistics are reasonable, manageable and just might be the option that is right for you.

Leave a Reply