With our son turning one, and our biological clocks not moving any slower, my husband and I are contemplating the expansion of our family for the second time. As a “fertility challenged” couple we are gifted with a variety of options to choose from when it comes to growing our family in the form of infertility treatments and adoption. After experiencing the beauty of the adoption process, we know adoption is where our hearts reside. What we did not know is that there is a relatively new option, embryo adoption, that has piqued our interest.

What Is Embryo Adoption?

Embryo adoption is a recently developed procedure that allows fertility challenged couples to experience pregnancy and adoption simultaneously. The option for an embryo adoption results from millions of couples taking part in InVitro Fertilization (IVF) and not utilizing all of the created embryo’s for this infertility procedure. These unused embryos will be frozen until a decision is made for their use.

According to the Castle Rock, CO based adoption agency, Hope’s Promise, there are approximately 400,000 frozen embryos in the US. About 22% of these embryos will not be utilized for conception. The owners of these embryos have the choice to adopt the embryos out to infertile couples who cannot create their own embryos, donate them for research or have them destroyed.

Open Adoption

One exciting aspect about embryo adoption is the option for an open adoption. Research has recently shown that an open adoption is healthiest for the adoptive child and birth family. With an open adoption, information about the biological parents, adoptive family and child is made available to each party. Not only does this give you access to your child’s medical background, but to something equally as priceless: the genetic side of who they are. If desired by all parties involved, a relationship can be formed between the adopting family and the biological family.


There are emotional, financial and physical risks involved with embryo adoption as there would be with a traditional adoption or pregnancy. In addition, there are legal risks due to the fact that the laws surrounding embryo adoption are not specific on a state and federal level.

Once the Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) has taken place, the adoption is considered final (technically this is called a transfer of property in many states). This finality to the adoption process can bring peace to the adopting family. However, there is the risk that the pregnancy will not go to term or result in other medical complications.

Financial Aspects to Consider

  • The cost of an embryo adoption ranges from approximately $6000 – $17,500. On average, both ends of this price range are cheaper than a domestic infant adoption.
  • Insurance may pay for some of the medical treatments (if infertility services are a part of your insurance plan).
  • It is not clear if an embryo adoption qualifies for the federal and/or state adoption tax credit.

Embryo adoption is for couples who want to experience the joys (and pains) of pregnancy and adoption concurrently. As in any decision that involves family, the decision to take part in an embryo adoption is a heavy one. To gain more information on embryo adoption you can view answers of frequently asked questions at embryoadoption.com.