EAED Academy Q&A

Embryo Adoption: The Basics

what is embryo adoption


Originally posted on: NY Daily News- December, 2014

Inga Wismer already had biological children, but wanted to add more to her family. After a failed adoption, she decided to adopt an embryo and have it implanted into her womb. Wismer opens up about her decision to the Daily News and experts weigh in on this burgeoning option.

The Basics

Never heard of embryo adoption?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone — the process is a fairly recent phenomenon brought about by modern fertility treatments. It happens when a couple undergoing fertility treatment is left over with more embryos than they want or need, according to Dr. Lawrence Grunfeld, an associate clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive science at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital.

“Those embryos have various options: one would be to destroy them, another would be to donate them to stem cell research and another would be to give them to an infertile couple,” he told The News.

Wisner and her husband Michael also liked that embryo adoption is considerably less expensive than traditional adoption and in vitro fertilization. Wismer’s embryo adoption cost her $6,000, with half of the cost being covered by her insurance.

Conversely, traditional adoption can start at $30,000, according to Dr. Edward Nejat, a reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist at Neway Fertility in Midtown.

For embryo adoption, the donating couple has to undergo rigorous medical testing to determine that both partners don’t have any communicable diseases that could be passed on to the baby.The recipient also has to undergo testing to ensure that she can have a healthy pregnancy.

And beyond the scientific complexities, there are still old-fashioned human emotions at play. To that end, all parties must go through counseling to understand the magnitude of the decision. There also ethical guidelines from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine that say an embryo should not be created unless a recipient is ready to receive it.

After a week of hormonal pills — Wismer’s uterus was ready to accept an embryo.

Her implantation had to be timed according to her menstrual cycle. The embryo was defrosted, inserted into Wismer’s uterus and within one week she had a positive pregnancy test — even though the odds the embryo would attach were only 50%. It was a one-shot deal — Wismer did not adopt multiple embryos because she did not want to risk having multiples. But she said if the embryo didn’t take, she would just try the process again.

Now, Wismer is eight weeks along and experiencing typical pregnancy symptoms, but “as unpleasant as it is, those are actually good signs because it means everything is going OK,” she said. She loves the bond that she’s developing with her baby.

Wismer is sharing her story in hopes to enlighten more people about embryo adoption. She said that not many of her friends knew it even existed.

“I think it should become more popular,” she said. “It gives you a chance to carry and it’s a lot less expensive than traditional adoption or a surrogate. Plus it helps frozen babies that are just sitting there, waiting for a chance at life.”

Read Wismer’s full story here: NJ Woman Shares Her Story of Embryo Adoption”