How Are Embryo Donors Connected with Recipients?


Families who consider navigating the embryo adoption waters have a number of options to help them get started. Organizations such as medical clinics, adoption agencies and social service agencies that serve families through the embryo donation/adoption process offer a varying range of services. Some agencies might provide only one service, such as completing the family assessment (home study) for the recipient, while others provide more comprehensive services, like donor-recipient matching, medical transfer and counseling.

A medical clinic may only receive the embryos to their clinic to thaw and do the physical transfer of the embryo while other facilities provide more comprehensive services.  Some not only receive embryos, but also provide “housing” for them until the family makes a decision on where or to whom to donate them.  Additionally, this type of clinic may receive applications from families desiring to receive the embryos, and coordinate the connection of the embryo donors with a recipient family.  These medically based clinics also prepare the recipient mother’s body for and complete the physical transfer of the embryos.

Some organizations serving embryo donor and recipient families, ask the recipient families to review donor families profiles to determine from whom they would like to receive embryos.  If it is an open relationship where there is a level of contact, the donor family is then offered the option of approving or denying the donation.  Additionally, in some cases of a confidential (anonymous) relationship, the donor may still want the opportunity to be involved in the choice of the recipient family.

Other organizations reverse the process and have the donor family initially review the recipient families’ profiles and select which family they would like to adopt their embryos.  Following this, the chosen recipient family reviews the donor family’s information and either agrees or declines the donation decision.  This process mirrors the typical traditional domestic adoption placement where the birth family has the option to select a family with whom to place their child.

Another factor that may influence a family’s choice for an embryo donation/adoption organization may be the agency’s location and its accessibility to the family.  If it is located near the family’s home that may be an easier choice than one that would involve travel. Families may have a particular organization that they prefer to work with because of its specific processes and procedures.  Another factor that families may consider as they select an embryo service provider is the organization’s success rates for embryo donation/adoption, but whatever their choice, they should choose the one that best fits their family’s needs.

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