I wanted to share our step-by-step checklist for our embryo adoption because I think there are a lot of things going on behind the scenes that people don’t even realize. Plus, this might help others going through this same process. That said, it will be different for you if you don’t know the biological family like we do. If you’re going through a clinic’s donor program or an agency, you’ll have some different steps, such as a homestudy, which was not required for us. Agency embryo adoptions do require a homestudy. Since our situation is private and not through an agency, a homestudy is not required. But if this was a private adoption of a living infant, it would be required. The laws are inconsistent and it really comes down to when the government believes life begins and what they consider to be an actual adoption.
So all that to say, this is our checklist of steps required to complete our embryo adoption. As the recipient, I pay for everything. The biological family does not pay for any of the items required of them. The family is already giving us the greatest gift, so this is a no brainer and NO problem! All of the below for both phases is costing approximately $9,800.
Before the clinic will even start you on medications for a transfer, these are required:
- For me: Consultation at the clinic where the embryos are stored to get established as a patient.
- For me: Testing to make sure I can carry the embryos without the recommendation of surrogacy, including extensive blood work (autoimmune diseases, blood clotting disorders, and gene mutation disorders) and saline ultrasound. They also checked my thyroid again (I’m already on meds for this), prolactin, Vitamin D levels, etc.
- For all parties: Get legal paperwork completed with two attorneys, one for us, one for the biological family. This part takes time as there is some back and forth that happens to make sure everyone is on the same page and agrees to the terms, such as how open the families will be with each other after the birth, what happens with leftover embryos, etc. A letter is required on attorney letterhead before the clinic will allow us to schedule the transfer.
- For all parties: Meet FDA requirements:
- IVF profile labs on me (HIV, Hepatitis, autoimmune triggers, etc.)
- FDA Donor Screening & Exam on the biological donor(s)
- For all parties: Complete third-party counseling sessions, which include single sessions between each party (90 minutes each) and a joint session together (30 minutes).
- For me: fundraise, fundraise, fundraise. There’s a lot of financial planning involved. The fundraising itself has felt like a second part-time job. It’s been a lot of work. So many extra hours spent just figuring out MONEY. But the work has paid off because before we knew it, we saved and raised more than half of what we needed to do this embryo adoption! Now we just have the other half to figure out, but we’re getting there. Between upcoming fundraisers and what we’re setting aside off the top of each paycheck every month, we’re confident we’ll get there with minimal debt involved. We want to pay outright for everything.
Once we’ve made it to this point and all of the above is complete, we can start on the next phase, which is all on us, the recipients. At this point, the biological family is done with their part. The embryos will be ours and we’re just scheduling a transfer!
- Get an updated paps.
- The month before transfer:
- Take birth control pills to gain control of my body and timeline. This is the part that annoys me the most because I’m the last person to need birth control, but this is the only way to guarantee dates. Otherwise, my cycles are irregular and we have zero control.
- Endometrium scratch to encourage better blood flow to the uterine lining for transfer.
- Transfer month:
- Start medications and acupuncture (if I haven’t already by this point).
- Get ultrasounds and labs drawn frequently to check hormone levels and uterine lining. Everything has to be perfect or the transfer date will be canceled. The uterine lining needs to be a certain thickness and trilaminar before transfer.
- Take supplements, eat healthily, avoid drama and toxic people, think of a wonderful thought (“any happy little thought?!”), find some pixie dust, and most importantly, PRAY!
- GET “PUPO” (Pregnant Until Proven Otherwise)! The transfer day fee is the single most expensive part of this whole thing and includes the administration and coordination fees, thaw and prep of embryo(s), transfer, surgical suite fees, etc. up to 1st pregnancy test. But it will all be worth it to get PREGNANT!
So that’s what is going on behind the scenes for this embryo adoption. Our checklist feels extensive and overwhelming at times, but it’ll be worth it to grow our family.