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Embryo Adoption

The Office of Population Affairs (OPA) within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Health (OASH) is responsible for administering the frozen embryo adoption public awareness campaign. The campaign, first funded by Congress in 2002, supports grants, cooperative agreements and/or contracts which aim to increase public awareness of embryo donation/adoption. The original purpose of the program was to increase public awareness of the existence of a large number of human embryos remaining after in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures, some of which might be available for adoption by infertile couples. In fiscal year 2008, Congress expanded the scope of the program to include interventions that provided medical and administrative services to individuals and couples in order to facilitate the adoption and donation of embryos for the purpose of family formation. Recipients of the services, undertaken as part of the proposed projects, should be individuals that are currently involved, soon may be involved, or are interested in adopting or donating remaining embryos. This may include individuals that are infertile, experiencing difficulty achieving a pregnancy, interested in having more children through frozen embryo transfer, or have surplus embryos. 

Funded projects address a variety of medical and administrative services that facilitate the use of embryo adoption/donation as a method of family formation.  In this context, education and counseling are considered medical services. Administrative services are those that address and help embryo adoption/donation patients negotiate the process of embryo adoption/donation, and to overcome the financial, legal, and other non-biologic obstacles that may occur in the process of embryo adoption/donation. Training of professionals to enable them to provide administrative and/or medical services to facilitate embryo adoption and donation is an additional aspect of the program. The embryo adoption program is authorized under Section 301 of the Public Health Service Act. 

Recent Grant Awards

Empower Donation, LLC

Annual Funding: $275,000

Contact Information: Maya Grobel

Project Overview: Empower Donation will implement the Empowering Choice in Embryo Donation project to improve upon and expand services that increase awareness of embryo donation among IVF patients storing cryo-preserved embryos. Empowering Choice will support decision-making about disposition through personalized educational materials and provide assistance to patients (potential donors and recipients) and clinics in addressing the matching, logistical, and medical hurdles that accompany this family-building option. The project will address a national need to make embryo donation more inclusive and accessible. Empower Donation will employ mental health counseling, genetic counseling, education, and media production to create and implement a comprehensive educational program for clinic staff and patients. The project aims to increase the number of patients choosing to donate their embryos for family building, increase the number of clinics willing to provide embryo donation and open donation services, with the intention of normalizing this family-building method so that it is more understood and accessible for all stakeholders through the use of webinars, trainings, and other educational materials.


National Registry for Adoption

Annual Funding: $255,000

Contact Information: K. Duffy Johnson

Project Overview: The National Registry for Adoption will offer a multi-channel digital marketing public awareness campaign to educate potential embryo donors/recipients about embryo donation/adoption and help increase access to these services by providing free counseling and affordable matching and legal support services. The project proposes to reach prospective embryo donors and recipients through a digital public awareness campaign using email and social media platforms and provide online counseling sessions with a counselor who has personal embryo adoption/donation experience. The project will also provide assistance to legal counsel in the preparation and timely execution of contracts between embryo donors and recipients.


Nightlight Christian Adoptions

Annual Funding: $255,000

Contact Information: Kimberly Tyson

Project Overview: Nightlight Christian Adoptions has an existing program called Snowflakes, named because, like a snowflake, each cryo-preserved embryo is frozen and unique. This new project aims to increase participation in both embryo donation and embryo adoption services. Families with remaining embryos and families interested in receiving donated embryos are often unfamiliar with this family-building option. Before Snowflakes, the only choice available to families was to anonymously donate or receive embryos through a fertility clinic. Potential donors are attracted to the idea of selecting a family for their remaining embryos through an adoption-modeled program. This project will deliver educational counseling to inquirers and participants, educate medical professionals to encourage discussions with patients, and endeavor to shorten the timeline for family completion of the donation or adoption process.

Content created by Office of Population Affairs
Content last reviewed on October 25, 2019