Embryo Adoption, pg 2

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The Issues

Here's a brief overview of some of the issues:

Made-to-order embryos: This option allows adopting parents to select criteria for sperm and egg donors, respectively. Want blue eyes? A history of musical talent? Italian heritage? This kind of mix-and-match do-it-yourself kit raises enormous questions about whose interests are being served. Will the interests of the child be dumped to the bottom of the list in favor of someone's idea of a "perfect creation?"

Anonymous embryo adoption: Programs like the the one at the University of Iowa Health Center maintain the anonymity of embryo donors. Adopting parents will have only current medical information about the genetic parents. It would seem, to this writer, that this program is an updated version of the closed adoption system and can hardly be described as being in the best interest of those conceived and adopted in this manner.

Legal issues: Embryo adoption is new, and as mentioned above, very few states take any legal position whatsoever. If the practice of embryo adoption is legislated in the future, states laws could be enacted that may or may not be in conflict with agreements made today between genetic and adopting parents.

Religious issues: They exist. For example, the Catholic Church disapproves of any form of artificial conception, but has opened serious debate on this issue.

Ethical issues: This is where the issues really abound! Once upon a time, the hot topic (and it still is in some areas) was about sex without babies (contraception). Now attention has turned to babies without sex. From the "right to life" of an embryo, to ethical standards of practice, to the possible future genetic engineering of "adoptable" embryos, professionals from every sector - along with us everyday folks - have something to say.

The Final Frontier

In the world of adoption, embryo adoption is currently our new frontier, brought about by new and newer technologies. But is it the final frontier? Changing family structures, new attitudes and ideas about "love and marriage," and a population seeking to become parents later in life are also spurring us onward to new ways of thinking about old ideas.

The question each of us will have to answer for herself or himself is, "just because I can do it, should I do it?" And since the topic is adoption, and adoption is about children, will our answers reflect the best interests of our present and future children?

More Information About Embryo Adoption

Program Web sites

  • "Making Babies" - Frontline - an excellent presentation of the technologies, ethics, and arguments from leading bioethicists, from PBS
  • Medical Ethics - another excerpt from Choosing Assisted Reproduction: Social Emotional and Ethical Considerations by Susan Lewis Cooper and Ellen Sarasohn Glazer
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