Embryo Donation

If an individual or couple is fortunate enough to complete their family building and still have embryos remaining, they need to decide what to do with their remaining embryos.  If destruction or donation for research purposes are not the right choice for them, they have the option to donate their embryos to another person or couple who may be looking to start or build their family.

Embryos created from your own egg and sperm or embryos created using donor egg and/or sperm can be donated.

An embryo donation agreement is needed to transfer ownership of embryos from the owners to the new intended parent(s).  The embryo donation agreement will detail how many embryos will be transferred, the expenses to be paid by the new intended parent(s) (legal fees, shipping costs, storage costs, etc.), and confirm that the donor(s) will not have any legal rights or responsibilities for the child, while the new intended parent(s) will have all legal rights and responsibilities to the child.  Both the intended parent(s) and the donor(s) should have independent legal counsel and it is typical for the intended parents to pay for the legal fees of the donor(s).

Benefits of Embryo Donation

  • Budget Friendly – Embryo donation can be the most cost-effective method of obtaining embryos. It avoids the medical costs of egg retrieval and in vitro fertilization (IVF) and also the compensation paid to an egg donor because compensation cannot be paid for embryos.
  • Quick Process – Obtaining donated embryos can be the quickest path to have embryos ready for transfer because no medical procedures are needed.
  • Known Donation – Most embryo donation arrangements are fully open and both sides have full name and contact information for one another. This allows for sharing of genetic medical information and for the full genetic siblings being raised in different home to have access to each other.
  • Likelihood of Success – There may be an increased chance of success using donated embryos if they came from a batch of embryos that previously led to a successful pregnancy and the birth of a healthy child.


  • Facebook groups – Donors and intended parents often connect in Facebook embryo donation groups
  • EM-POWER with Moxi – Embryo donation education and matching services
  • Embryo Connections – Embryo donation education and matching services
  • Embryo Donation Story – Facebook Live session with Attorney Casey DiPaola, Dr. Kiltz of CNY Fertility and parents via embryo donation and surrogacy

Embryos can also be “adopted” through embryo adoption agencies, which are typically religious-based organizations. An embryo adoption treats embryos like children and follows the framework of an adoption of a child, including criminal and child abuse clearances and a home study. The adoption can also involve an agreement regarding post-adoption contact. There are no provisions in the law that require these steps and the “adoption” is treated as an embryo donation arrangement from a legal standpoint.

Next steps:

If you have achieved pregnancy using donated embryos, it is a best practice to obtain a parentage order that specifically states that the new intended parent(s) are the parent(s) of the child and that the embryo donor(s) and any prior egg or sperm donor(s) are not parent(s) of the child.

The parentage proceeding is typically filed during the second trimester of the pregnancy but can also be filed after the child is born.

Couples or individuals who have frozen embryos left after they have finished creating their family also need to consider how the embryos will be treated in the event of a divorce or upon their death. The disposition of frozen eggs, sperm and embryos should be addressed in disposition forms and/or an agreement between the parties.

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