Embryo adoption/donation

Donor or adoptive embryos are sometimes made available by genetic parents who have completed fertility treatments but have extra embryos remaining in storage. 

The use of the term "donated" versus "adopted" varies, but the concept is the same. Generally, clinics facilitate the donation of embryos given or received anonymously or with limited information. Clinics will also assist families who have made matches independently (i.e. a couple may donate their embryos to a family member, friend, or acquaintance).

Adoption agencies facilitate the placement of embryos through anonymous placement or open "adoptions". Agencies that facilitate embryo adoption may or may not be faith-based. Most embryo adoption agencies require a homestudy and/or counselling prior to a match.

Whether "donated" or "adopted", the term describes the process by which the legal ownership of donated embryos and subsequent parental rights of children born of those embryos is legally transferred to the intended parent(s). The donated or adopted embryo(s) are implanted into the uterus of the same intended parent, or a gestational surrogate.

Canadian and provincial laws do not specifically address embryo donation or adoption. In the absence of such laws, fertility clinics and adoption agencies have drafted programs to support embryo adoptions and donations to help protect the legal and ethical rights of both donating and receiving parents, as well as the rights of children who are born through assisted reproduction.

The embryo adoption process varies depending on how you are matched, your relationship with the donating or receiving family, and your plans for openness. Contact your fertility clinic or adoption agency for details on program options, or call us for more information: 604-320-7330 or toll free at 1-866-900-7330.

Need to talk to someone about adoption?

Our adoption support coordinators are happy to answer any questions you may have.

What does that mean?

Our glossary helps decode adoption language.