Common questions people have about embryo donations

On Behalf of | May 29, 2024 | Fertility Law |

Couples preparing for medically-assisted reproduction often have numerous embryos in cryogenic storage. In some cases, couples may have embryos left over after they successfully reproduce or region age where they no longer wish to try. Other couples may divorce.

Typically, people execute contracts with the medical professionals assisting in their reproduction that clarify what should happen with their embryos at the end of the process. Embryo donation is one of the options available. Many people considering embryo donation have questions about the process. The answers below might help people feel more comfortable with the idea of donating their unused embryos.

Can couples choose recipients?

Perhaps one spouse has a gay sibling who wants to expand their family. Maybe they know another couple through their church that has had similar struggles but could not produce their own embryos due to medical challenges. It is possible for people to arrange to donate their remaining embryos to specific people instead of making them generally accessible to others hoping to grow their families.

Could embryo donation lead to child support?

One of the more pressing concerns people have about embryo donation is the possibility that they could have legal or financial responsibility for any child born from their embryos. Typically, this is not a risk, as state law assumes that gamete donors do not have parental rights and responsibilities.

Can children learn about the embryo donation later?

Some families are comfortable with the idea of sharing their embryos with others but worry about what their children might think about that decision. After all, they might have siblings who they never meet. Despite confidentiality agreements at modern fertility clinics, there is a possibility of children eventually finding out that their parents donated embryos.

The prevalence of genetic sequencing and family registries online could potentially mean that children born through assisted reproduction eventually come into contact with full genetic siblings who are not part of their family. Those considering embryo donation may eventually need to broach that topic with any children that they had through assisted reproduction.

Who covers the costs?

Donated embryos typically require ongoing storage until the recipient parents or surrogate is able to use them. Those costs can add up quickly. Depending on the terms of the donation, there could be multiple different solutions for storage. Typically, those receiving donated embryos cover the cost of ongoing storage. If a couple wants to leave them at the disposal of a clinic, they may need to double-check what costs, if any, that could generate.

Learning more about what to expect when donating embryos can be beneficial for those pursuing assisted reproduction in California. Embryo donation is only one of several solutions available when people no longer need their remaining embryos.