What is Embryo Adoption?

What is Embryo Adoption?

What is embryo adoption and how does embryo adoption work compared to embryo donation? Often, a couple or individual receiving donated embryos is considered to be “adopting” the embryos regardless if they are participating in an embryo adoption or embryo donation program.

In both embryo adoption and embryo donation, patients can use donated frozen embryos in hopes of achieving a pregnancy. However, there are important differences in the process of embryo adoption compared to the process of embryo donation. So, what exactly is embryo adoption? On this page, we outline the similarities and differences to help you understand whether embryo adoption or embryo donation is right for you.

What's the Difference Between Embryo Adoption and Donation?

To summarize, embryo adoption is a bit of a lengthier process than embryo donation and may cost more money. The foundational difference in the process of embryo adoption compared to embryo donation is listed below: 

Embryo adoption views the embryo as a child, typically requiring the recipients to go through a comprehensive legal process to “adopt” the embryo.

Embryo donation views the embryo as a gift that is being donated and the recipients are accepting ownership.

At Donor Nexus, we offer embryo donation cycles. However, the flexibility of our program allows for open ID embryo donations, which offer many similarities to embryo adoption.

Although the process of embryo donation is more straightforward than embryo adoption, there is no difference in the quality of embryos or success rates. In both embryo adoption and embryo donation programs, embryos are donated by patients who have completed their IVF treatments and have leftover embryos. In both scenarios, the donating couple or individual believes in the sanctity of life and hopes to help another couple or individual grow their family.

Embryo Adoption vs. Donation

Although embryo donation and embryo adoption are similar in many ways and sometimes you will even find the two terms used interchangeably on fertility blogs and forums, there are important differences to consider when choosing between an embryo donation and an embryo adoption program. We have a page outlining the process of donating leftover embryos after IVF as well.

First, Let us Define Adoption and Donation:

» Adoption: The act of one who takes another’s child into their own family, treating them as their own and giving all the rights and duties as if it were their child. A juridical act created between two persons certain relations, purely civil, of paternity and filiation (1).

» Donation: The act by which the owner of a thing, voluntarily transfers ownership and possession of the same, from himself to another person, without any consideration, a gift. The donation is not perfected until it is accepted, which is requisite to make the donation complete.

Embryo Adoption Cost, Timeline, and Process Comparisons

Based on many interactions with intended parents who were unaware of the differences between embryo adoption and donation, we have created a simple breakdown to help patients and potential patients better understand each option.

How Much Does Embryo Adoption Cost?

The average price for embryo adoption is in the range of $12,000 – $15,000. Additionally, the required home study cost ranges from $2,000 to $3,500.

How Much Does Embryo Donation Cost?

At Donor Nexus, embryo donation costs begin at $9,400 USD per cycle, excluding pre-testing, medications, and frozen embryo transfer.

How Does Embryo Adoption Work?

As stated above, embryo adoption involves taking a child as your own. Rather than receiving a gift or accepting ownership of embryos, embryo adoption recognizes each embryo as a child. So, how do you adopt an embryo?

How is Embryo Adoption Done?

First, you find an agency with embryos available for adoption, or a couple/individual with embryos available for adoption. Many embryo adoption programs involve the donor parents selecting the intended parent(s) that will receive the embryos. As an intended parent, you may post an ad on a website about yourself and your partner.

Many embryo adoption agencies require couples to complete a home study, which is a comprehensive family study conducted by a state-licensed adoption agency. Additionally, a legal contract is drafted between the donor and recipient parties.

It is not uncommon for embryo adoption agencies to have more exclusive requirements for the recipients. Many embryo adoption agencies are founded on religious principles and require that the recipients are a married heterosexual couple.

How Long Does the Embryo Adoption Process Take?

With embryo adoption, you can expect a wait of 8-10 months until your frozen embryo transfer takes place.

How Does Embryo Donation Work?

Embryo donation is generally an anonymous cycle that involves patients donating their unused or leftover embryos to their fertility clinic for future patient use. The donations are then facilitated by the fertility clinic.

Patients interested in finding donor embryos can view the embryo donor profile in an online embryo donor database. Generally, the embryo profiles include non-identifying information about the genetic mother and father. The shared information typically includes: ethnicity, hair color, eye color, year embryos were created, embryo grading, and whether genetic testing was performed. Additionally, some donor embryo profiles even reveal the sex of the baby. There is no direct communication between the donor parents and intended parents unless requested by and agreed upon by both parties.

How Long Does the Embryo Donation Process Take?

Embryo donation cycles do not require as much of a time commitment. Because time is of the essence, our agency offers a No Wait Donor Embryo Cycle to recipients who are ready to grow their families. Typically, patients who choose to use donor embryos often deliver within one year of their first visit.

Benefits of Embryo Donation

1. It is common for more than one donor embryo to be available from the same donors, so there’s an opportunity for recipients to have more than one child with similar genetics.

2. Recipients can choose the genetic traits they desire by looking through donor embryo profiles offering family history, ethnic, and social backgrounds.

3. Embryo donation cycles do not involve a home study.

4. In contrast with frozen embryo adoption, there are no complicated or perilous legal issues surrounding the use of the embryos. As intended parents, you are the legal guardians of the child and are listed as so on the birth certificate.

Using Donor Embryos Compared to Traditional Adoption

Traditional adoption and using donated embryos are both admirable ways of raising a child that may have no genetic link to you. Whether donor embryos are being used for an adoption or donation cycle, the recipient mother can carry and deliver the child, acting as both the adoptive mother and surrogate mother, and maintaining control over the prenatal environment of the baby.

Interestingly, studies show that the demographics of embryo donors are typically more favorable than the demographics of the biological parents of an adopted child. For instance, the prevalence of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome is significantly higher among adoptees and foster children. Essentially, embryo donation and embryo adoption both offer a less expensive and quicker alternative to traditional adoption. In addition to the opportunity to experience pregnancy and childbirth, using donor embryos also allows you to seek genetic testing on the embryo(s), possibly including the opportunity for gender selection.


Your Unique Path to Parenthood

One of the most important parts of the IVF process is researching all options to make an informed decision on which treatment program is best for you. Since our establishment in 2012, we have helped many families who were initially seeking an embryo adoption agency.

In our embryo donor database, you will discover a wide variety of donated embryos. If you are seeking embryo adoption, typically about 20% of the donor embryo profiles in our database are from donors who have opted for an open ID embryo donation

Essentially, if your goal is to achieve a healthy pregnancy using donor embryos while still reaping some of the benefits involved in embryo adoption, Donor Nexus’ Donor Embryo Cycle may be able to meet your needs. We work with many intended parents who were initially seeking embryos available for adoption.

Seeking Embryos Available for Adoption?


How does embryo adoption work? How much does embryo adoption cost compared to donation? Learn more!

Although embryo adoption is sometimes used interchangeably with embryo donation, they do not mean the same thing. There are important differences to note between embryo adoption agencies and embryo donation agencies. At Donor Nexus, we offer embryo donation cycles. Although most of our embryo donors opt for anonymous donations, we do have options for open ID embryo donation, which are similar to embryo adoption without requiring home study and other legalities. If you are seeking embryos available for adoption, we encourage you to learn more about the differences and similarities between embryo donation and embryo adoption before choosing which one is right for you.


We're Here to Help

Browse embryo donor profiles in the Donor Nexus online donor embryo database. Simply register to receive free and instant access! Donor Nexus is located in Newport Beach, California, and attracts patients worldwide to participate in our embryo donation program. For the embryo transfer, you will need to spend a total of four days in Southern California. We hope you found this information helpful. If you have any additional questions, contact our team and we will be happy to assist you.

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