Frequently Asked Questions: Embryo Donation

Q:What are some of the issues that would be covered by a legal agreement between embryo donors and embryo recipients?
The legal agreement will typically establish the intentions and responsibilities of the parties and address their mutually agreed upon decisions regarding the number of embryos to be donated, confidentiality, sharing of future medical information, future contact (if any), financial arrangements, and the disposition of any embryos remaining after treatment is concluded by the embryo recipients.
Q:We spent a significant amount of money undergoing the medical treatment that resulted in these embryos. Can we recoup some of our expenses from the couple to whom we are donating?
Generally not, as these expenses were incurred solely for your own benefit during your own family building journey. However, expenses that are incurred with the embryo donation itself, such as medical screenings, counseling sessions, transportation fees, and legal fees can be paid for by the recipients. It is important that all such payments are carefully documented and are in accordance with any applicable laws. Please talk to your attorney for specifics relative to your situation.
Q:Can I donate embryos that were created using an egg or sperm donor?
It can be more logistically complicated because you need to ensure that the egg or sperm donor does not object to such a donation. Your attorney can review the agreement you had with your egg or sperm donor and make arrangements for any follow up necessary with the donor.
Q:Can I meet the recipients in an anonymous donation?
Absolutely. It is certainly possible to have some level of contact while maintaining anonymity. For example, the parties can email each other using an intermediary, such as the lawyer’s office.
Q:Can I place restrictions in the legal agreement that will require the recipients to raise the children in a certain manner, such as with a particular religious upbringing? What about restrictions forbidding the recipients from terminating a pregnancy?
The process requires you to relinquish all parental decision-making to the recipients at the time of the donation. That said, it is certainly appropriate for you to select recipients who share your views on religion, pregnancy termination, or any other issues that are important to you. You may want to consider an open or semi-open donation so that you can get to know potential recipients and personally assess whether you are comfortable donating to a specific couple.
Q:What is the difference between embryo donation and embryo adoption?
In both New Hampshire and Massachusetts, embryos cannot be adopted because adoption is a legal process that applies only to children who have already been born. The procedure that is used in New Hampshire and Massachusetts is known as embryo donation.
Q:Is a home study required for embryo donation in New Hampshire or Massachusetts?
As embryo donation is a medical treatment, and does not involve the legal placement of an already born child, no homestudy is required.
Q:What if embryos still remain after the recipients complete their family building?
The agreement between the donors and recipients can address what will happen to the remaining embryos.
Q:We would like any leftover embryos back after the recipients are done with their family building. Can such a provision be put into the legal agreement?
If you wish to retain legal control over any remaining embryos, there are ways to structure the donation to achieve that result.  However, such provisions need to be carefully constructed to avoid opening the door to a potential legal attack on the relinquishment and establishment of parental rights for the children who are born from the donated embryos, and to avoid additional logistical complications and related expenses for you.
Q:I have heard about a program where donor eggs and donor sperm are used to create a pool of embryos that are then split between several different recipients. Is this the same thing as embryo donation?
Embryo donation occurs when patients donate embryos that were originally created for their own reproductive use. The program you describe is more commonly referred to as a shared double donor cycle.
Q:Do I need to go through an agency, such as Snowflakes, to donate or receive embryos?
Snowflakes is one of many options available. Many fertility clinics offer in-house matching programs. Alternatively, you can arrange for a match on your own–Parents Via Egg Donation,, offers an excellent matching service for no cost. Many fertility lawyers, including the Law Office of Catherine Tucker, can also assist you with the process.