Stephen J. Buhler, Attorney at Law

Embryo adoption becoming more popular despite lack of regulation

There are many reasons to adopt a child; some do it because they are unable to conceive a child on their own while some want to expand their family and some just want to give a home to someone less fortunate than themselves. After making the choice to adopt come the decisions regarding the type of adoption, the ethnicity, race, gender, age and even nationality of the child. One of the newer and barely regulated forms of adoption is starting to gain prominence in the United States.

Embryo adoption is a fairly new creation resulting from the over abundance of frozen embryos left over from those who have traversed the in vitro fertilization process. Current estimates put the number of frozen embryos in the U.S. between 400,000 and 600,000. Many facilities leave the embryos' fate to the parents' discretion with options ranging from destroying the embryos to placing them for adoption or donating them to science. Currently making up only one percent of adoptions, embryo adoption may gain popularity as laws clarify the new procedure and individuals' rights to the resulting child.

Utah is among one of eight states that has any legislation regarding embryo adoption. The statute is only a sentence saying "a donor is not a parent of a child conceived by means of assisted reproduction." It is not clear whether this law will apply to the unique situation of embryo adoption or what would be legally required to complete such an adoption.

How to properly deal with a large number of potential children and those seeking adoption of one is an issue states will have to tackle sooner rather than later. IVF is just one of the many reasons that this is true. As the number of couples using IVF grows the surplus of viable embryos will continue to increase.

Source: Salt Lake Tribune, "The Frozen Children: The Rise-and Complications-of Embryo Adoption in the U.S.," Rebecca Buckwalter, May 5, 2014

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