Are you considering donating embryos?
If you are considering donating your embryos, I thank you from the bottom of my heart on behalf of all of the hopeful recipient couples out there! Currently, there is a huge donor embryo shortage - despite what you may have read online or elsewhere. Many times you may read there are "over 600,000 embryos frozen in time just waiting to be adopted" when this is simply not true. It may be true that there are hundreds of thousands of embryos frozen in labs, but most of them are property of their genetic parents who have intentions of using them at a later date. If you currently have embryos remaining after the completion of building your family, and don't know what to do with them, thank you for considering donation. You can use the following information to help guide you.
How to begin:
One of the most important things to decide before donating your embryos is what kind of relationship, if any, you want with the recipient family and any child that results from the donation. You can choose completely anonymous, semi-open and open. Each route has a few options which we will detail next.
~Anonymous: If anonymous is the best choice for you, you can do this a few different ways. You can use a matching agency like Snowflakes, Cedar Park, NEDC or Embryos Alive. Each of these require a home study for the recipients (there is never a fee to donating families) and they will handle all of the details for you. Another option is to see if your current clinic has a donor embryo program and allow them to find a patient in need of embryos to complete their family. This is less expensive for recipients and clinics often waive any storage fees that may be due.
~Open and Semi-Open: this can be done in one of two ways. You can either use one of the aformentioned agencies or you can find your own match. If you find your own match the recipient is responsible for all fees (testing, legal, remaining storage, shipping, etc). You can find a recipient by word of mouth, through your clinic (they may know of someone interested in an open/semi-open situation), on message boards, Facebook groups, or online forums, or you can use a matching site like Miracles Waiting or NRFA.
Your next step:
If you choose to go the anonymous route then once you choose to go through an agency or clinic you will not have much left to do as the agency or clinic will take care of everything and you will have paperwork to sign and possible some blood work to complete.
If you choose to do an open/semi-open donation you will then you will have a few things to consider. Make a list of things that are important to you and your partner. Some expamples are level of contact, religious preferences, if you are open to transracial families, LGBT and/or single moms, etc. Another important thing to consider is what happens if the recipient couple is unable to use all of the embryos. Most couples will want to do so, but at times that is not possible. If this arises who do you want to choose the next couple, you or the recipients?
Choosing to donate your remaining embryos is not an easy decision and may take you some time. Wait until you are ready and take the time to consider all of your options. If I could make a recommendation, please be sure that you and your partner are ready to donate your embryos before actually involving a recipient. It will spare their feelings if you decide you are not ready yet, and it's only fair. And if you are in contact with a recipient only to find that it is not a good match, please be honest with them and let you know it won't work out instead of disappearing. This causes so much heartache to the recipient and will leave them to wonder "why?" Being honest is the kindest thing to do, even if it's difficult.
Please know that if your clinic tells you that you "aren't allowed to donate" or "it can't be done" they are incorrect. These embryos belong to you and YOU get to decide what happens to them, not your clinic. Many times you will be told you have only two options available: Destroy or donate to science. When in reality, there is a third option. And the most tragic part about this is that many couples are not aware of this option and end up destroying or donating to science when they otherwise wouldn't have. The bottom line is that if you wish for your embryos to have a chance at life, you can make this happen. There are so many infertile couples who would do anything to have a chance at parenthood. And you hold the key to not only impact the lives of your embryos, but give the most selfless gift of all to loving recipient couple!