As an adoption professional, I consider the cherished life of an embryo to be a miracle waiting to burst forth to life through embryo donation and adoption.
However, legally embryo donation and adoption falls under the jurisdiction of “contract law.” When an embryo is donated to another family that transfer falls under the status of “transfer of property.” The donating family signs a document releasing their embryos and the receiving family also signs a document indicating their receipt of the embryos. Through these documents this “transfer of property” is completed.
For the families donating their precious embryos to another family, their embryos certainly do not represent “property.” These donor families give the gift of their embryos with much thought and often grief as they release their embryos so that another family may have the blessing of giving birth to their adopted child.
With all adoptions, there is a giving up and a receiving. Because embryos are in a frozen state when the legal transfer occurs, it may feel as if it is a “commodity.” However, to the donor who releases their embryos this gift represents the fact that their family has been completed and they are generously sharing these potential lives with another family. Likewise, for the family who receives the embryos, this gift represents an opportunity for giving birth to their adopted child.
It is important to recognize that while the transfer of embryos from one family to another is a sharing of life, it is a transition that must be documented legally.