Q: What are the types of relationships donors and recipients can have? What do they involve?
A: When pursuing Embryo Adoption or Embryo Donation, it is important to know what kind of relationship you want to have with a potential donor or recipient. There is no right or wrong adoption relationship. Each type of relationship will have its own unique benefits and drawbacks to navigate.

Open Adoption

Description: Offers direct contact between donating and adopting families on a mutually agreed upon regular basis. Full identities are known.
Typical Contact: Phone, email, Facebook, sending holiday gifts/birthday presents, and/or occasional visits are all valid potential methods of contact.
Pros: Resulting child(ren) could benefit from knowing about his/her genetic background, family members, and medical history.
Cons: You may find close contact to be uncomfortable. This type of relationship takes time to build so sometimes finding the right match can take longer.

Semi-open Adoption

Description: Offers mediated or direct contact on a scheduled basis, though neither regular nor casual contact. At least partial identities, such as first names, are known.
Typical Contact: Contact is sometimes mediated through an agency. Can include but is not limited to emails, letters, and/or pictures typically once or twice a year at scheduled intervals.
Pros: Resulting child(ren) still have access to their genetic background and medical history. This type of adoption could be flexible and grow into a more open situation should both parties desire that change.
Cons: Mediated communication could hinder the possibility of a deeper relationship forming between the two families. In the event of a medical emergency, it may or may not be possible for the adoptive family to ask timely health related questions of the genetic family.

Closed Adoption

Description: Offers no ongoing contact. Donors may request notification of birth through a mediated party; however, no further information is relayed after birth. Partial identities may be known.
Typical Contact: Some communication may occur prior to birth. Typically no communication after birth, though some families reserve the right to communicate in the event of a medical emergency.
Pros: Adoptive families fully control how and when resulting child(ren) learn of their unique background.
Cons: Possible negative emotional toll on future children if questions concerning genetic origin and heritage cannot be answered.

Anonymous Adoption

Description: Offers no contact. Minimal details are known about donors beyond their basic characteristics provided in the profile information. No identification.
Typical Contact: None at all, either before or after the transfer.
Pros: Anonymous embryo sets are currently in high supply with low demand for them. This can accelerate the matching process and even, sometimes, cut costs. For some recipients, the great need for these children to have a chance at life is a compelling factor that overcomes the drawbacks of an anonymous relationship.
Cons: Possible negative emotional toll on future children when questions concerning genetic origin and heritage cannot be answered. Negligible background is provided on the genetic parents beyond basic physical characteristics.

Dispelling Myths of Adoption

The Minnesota Texas Adoption Research Project was conducted to study open adoptions versus the other types of adoptions. Its results dispel some common misconceptions about open adoptions:
– Open adoptions do not result in children being confused about who their parents are. The research shows that children understand the roles of both the genetic and adoptive parents.
– Genetic parents do not experience more grief and loss when choosing an open adoption. Actually, the latter is true as those who choose closed adoptions experience more problems dealing with grief and loss.
– The openness of the adoption does not negatively influence the adoptee’s self-esteem in any way.

By: Andrea Alexander & Charis Johnson