Embryo donation is legally considered a property transfer and not an adoption by state laws. However, Georgia enacted a statute called the "Option of Adoption Act" in 2009 which provided a procedure for, but (importantly) did not require—a confirmatory court order of parentage following embryo adoption. One advantage some embryo adoption couples in Georgia have derived from this law is that they have become eligible for the federal Adoption Tax Credit.
Embryo donation can be carried out as a service of an individual infertility clinic (where donor and recipient families typically live in the local area and are both patients of the same clinic) or by any of several national organizations. The process described below is typical of an "adoption-agency-based" national program:
Genetic parents entering an embryo adoption program are offered the benefits of selecting the adoptive parents from the agency's pool of prescreened applicants. Embryo ownership is transferred directly from the genetic parents to the adoptive parents. Genetic parents may be updated by the agency when a successful pregnancy is achieved and when a child(ren) is/are born. The genetic parents and adoptive parents may negotiate their own terms for future contact between the families.
Prospective adoptive parents entering a program complete an application, traditional adoption home study, adoption education, health checks and in some cases, depending on the requirements of both the home study and placement agencies, court certification of adoption eligibility. Their completed paperwork and fees are submitted to the placement agency, which reviews their file and matches them to genetic parents with similar preferences including desired level of openness post-adoption. Genetic and prospective parents are then given the chance to approve the match. Once all parties agree, the embryo is transferred to the adoptive mother's clinic for a frozen embryo transfer.
None of the procedures involved with embryo adoption by either the genetic or adopting parents are legal requirements of embryo transfer. The process is entered in to willingly by both sets of parents because of the added safeguards, knowledge and communication offered to both parties by the system. The Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program refers to the uniqueness of each embryo. Because Nightlight Christian Adoptions was the first to publicize the option nationally and, for several years, handled most cases in which families were matched outside the confines of an individual clinic, the term "Snowflake Babies" has become common vernacular when referring to the embryo-adoption process, though no longer referring exclusively to Nightlight's Snowflake Embryo Adoption Program.
As of July, 2011, Nightlight has reported 271 children born through the embryo adoption program. Concurrently, the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC) reports 280 born through their program since its inception in 2003.
Located in Knoxville, Tennessee, NEDC is the nation's only clinic-based, non-profit, national embryo donation entity. Its primary difference from Nightlight and other adoption-agency-based programs is that the clinical services, rather than being performed at a separate infertility clinic, are performed at the NEDC facility in Knoxville. This allows the family to receive all the services in a comprehensive manner at one location under the guidance of a trained coordinator. The only exception is the home study, as described above. The Embryo Donation Services of Cedar Park, located near Seattle, Washington (www.adoptanembryo.net) is the nation's only church-based embryo adoption enterprise. Founded by an embryo adoption mother, it operates on principles similar to the Snowflake Program.
Several other agencies nationwide offer embryo donation services, including Embryos Alive, Bethany Christian Services, Crystal Angels, and Embryo Adoption Services of Cedar Park.
Read more about this topic: Embryo Donation
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