Guest Post by Bonnie Bernard: CEO of Embryos Alive
“We loved you even before we knew you. Even when there was just the hope for you, we loved you.” – Unknown
Embryo adoption is very much like a typical adoption where an infant or child is placed with adoptive parents, however, now these loving families may enjoy the experience of carrying the adopted child through pregnancy and to birth and delivery just as they would have had they conceived naturally. The journey of pregnancy, birth, and feeling a child move inside the mother is often craved by loving parents who have trekked the long road of infertility.
At Embryos Alive, we know that our adoptive families as well as many of our embryo donors have been through extensive suffering and uncertainty through infertility. We approach these individuals and families with a Christ-like love and grace and from a sympathetic heart as our Founder and Executive Director, Bonnie Bernard, went through her own 5 years of infertility heartbreak and adopted her only child and son from Bulgaria 14 years ago.
Bonnie’s journey led to her own exhaustive research as she sought alternative options, and that is how Embryos Alive was founded in 2003, and came to be the second oldest embryo adoption agency both in the United States and in the world. Embryos Alive has evolved to be an organization that not only adds the personal touch, guidance, and multiple adoption options for contact with biological donors, but also strives to cut down both the time and financial requirements for embryo adoptions.
Many have gone through the extensive process of In Vitro Fertilization, which is otherwise known as IVF. Often with IVF, families find themselves in a difficult predicament after they have either completed their families or have exhausted their funds to continue storing their frozen embryos. What options do they have? Typically, they have three: they can donate the remaining embryos for adoption, have them disposed of, or have them turned over for scientific and genetic research. While the second two options may or may not be acceptable for their religious or ethical beliefs, the idea of sending your embryos to be adopted by complete strangers with no say in who or what kind of family the child/children could be raised by is daunting. That is why Embryos Alive offers options for donors to place true boundaries on what kinds of families may raise their potential children.
The process of matching frozen embryos to the perfectly-suited adoptive parents takes extensive screening of the embryos and the freezing process to maintain the quality of the embryos for a much higher chance of pregnancy success. At Embryos Alive, we also put in a great deal of thoughtfulness on what data is necessary but also desired by both donors and adoptive families so that the adoption process from birth through life of the child is a success for all parties involved. We provide a wide range of options in regards to the desired or declined options for communication between donors and adoptive families.
It is important for the adopters and the donors to deeply consider how much or little contact and/or life-sharing both parties wish to have. For example, at Embryos Alive, we offer the donors and adopters the options to select what they would be open to in regards to communication between the two parties. Some choose to be completely anonymous with zero contact, while others want some contact along with the ability to meet within a certain state, or perhaps some openness desired by donors but with the adopting families’ preference presiding. We have also had situations with both parties being willing to meet for the sake of the child, or both parties agreeing to having completely open adoptions.
With embryo adoption, there is actually the ability to screen the embryos and their donors so that adoptive families may receive an embryo of the same ethnicity and/or race as the family. This preference can ease the experience of the adoptive child with an increased likelihood of resembling the family and perhaps sharing the culture(s) of both the adoptive family as well as the embryo’s biological donors. It can give peace to a family considering donating extra embryos to know that the child/children will grow up with similar customs or religious beliefs as their own.
So how does the embryo adoption process work with Embryos Alive?
Typically, a family comes to us and they explore some available embryos on our site and request pictures of the donor families and data on the donors. Once they feel that they are ready they submit an application along with their physician’s contact information, we send records to confirm that the doctor will accept the embryos.
We go through a survey process so that the openness option that is chosen by the adoptive family matches the donors’ views on open/closed/or specific preferences in regards to mutual contact.
With Embryos Alive:
•All the legal paperwork is included.
•There is no homestudy required.
•You can go to your own clinic.
• Adopters view the available embryos for open/agency liaison or closed anonymous adoption.
We do not ask that you pay any upfront fees until you see some available embryos that you would like to adopt because we know the costs involved in TTC (trying to conceive).
Although we don’t have a “waiting list,” no one who has submitted the Application that we call “Step One” has waited a year to be matched:
We strive to streamline the process for both adopter and donor. As a result, because we work with clinics all over the country, the interpretation of the FDA’s (Federal Drug Administration) sexually transmitted infectious disease guidelines vary from clinic to clinic; hence, we do not require donors to do anything until requested by YOUR clinic.
A. Yes, we have embryos available now: To view the embryos available on our website link (tab at the top that is labeled “embryos available”), please visit:
B. You will want to join the free yahoo group (send a hello in an email) to embryosalive-subscribe@
The decision to expand your family is a serious, spiritual, emotional, and financial one that impacts multiple lives and generations. Our hope and prayer is that you will consider your various options in regards to adoption or donation of embryos so that these children can have the best chances to experience full lives in loving homes.
For more information, please feel free to contact us at: