Embryo Adoption: The Issue of Neglect

Technician Dropping Specimen in DishQuestion Submitted: Could we please consider that perhaps our church should take action by promoting embryo adoption as a viable alternative to “regular” adoption?  Yes, we agree that those frozen embryos are children of God that need a home, so let’s not wait to bicker over how to stop IVF from producing those little lives (which I don’t see as a realistic goal) but let’s turn instead to giving the people responsible for those lives another option besides putting them in the trash…or donating them for research.  But the word is not sufficiently out there in the Christian community because we hold back, worried about ______ (fill in the blank).

I, personally, am worried about the issue of neglect.

A good friend once told me that she could be arrested for neglect if she failed in sheltering, protecting, feeding, or taking care of her children. We have laws in place in this country which protect children who are born into this world, but we do not have laws which protect the unborn (those created in a petri dish or growing in a womb).

Another discriminatory fact is that our government enforces a regulatory system, a filter of sorts, which attempts to make sure children up for adoption are placed in safe, thriving, legally-approved homes under the care of experienced, trained, sanctioned parental figures. Our government does not regulate the wombs which wish to adopt an embryo. Private embryo adoptions and those facilitated through fertility clinics have no legal safeguards in place to make sure the womb into which implantation will be attempted is healthy, safe, and thriving. Some embryo adoption agencies require written notice from a physician that no known contraindications to pregnancy exist in an adoptive womb, but, otherwise, there seems to be no concern about the crime of neglect when it comes to these most vulnerable of children.

And these children, at this point in time, have only a 35% chance of implanting after the FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer) through embryo adoption. Remember, a 35% success rate of implantation means 65% of them die in the process.

If we do indeed want to rescue these frozen children, I do not think the best womb for attempting implantation is the one which has yet to bring a child to full health and vitality outside of the womb. I personally think attempting implantation in such a case can be a form of neglect, and that is one reason I have never endorsed embryonic adoption on this site, a site intended for barren women. God in His wisdom has not given some couples the gift of children through their own wombs, and I am fearful of encouraging these couples to adopt embryos. Statistically, at least 65% of them will see the action of their adopting lead to the death of their adopted child. My conscience is burdened by this, and I do not know how to reconcile it.

I know you write to us because you have compassion for the estimated 612,000 embryos currently frozen in our country, and I believe your call to action is a fruit of your wishing for these precious, loved-by-God children to be rescued. Sadly, the embryo adoption industry has chosen to forgo your noble theme of rescue in their marketing and has, instead, turned their advertising campaign towards the unfruitful womb, toward the barren. See for yourself below:


This might be part of the reason why the Christian community holds back. How do we promote rescue without simultaneously promoting the growth of an unregulated industry? How do we protect these children without also putting them at risk? How do we save them without killing them? How do we determine who should live and who should die? Who are we to do such things?

Lord, help us!

In the meantime, all I know in good conscience to do is to pray for these children, encourage couples considering embryo adoption to turn to their pastors for counsel and guidance, urge my church and government to keep these children from being made and abused in the first place, and trust in Christ’s mercy.

(There are other reasons which can be applied to your “fill in the blank” – i.e. Biblical support of adoption but not of surrogacy, the potential breaking of the one-flesh union, promoting an action which we know kills some of these children, etc.  – and I hope to address some of these reasons in future posts. Thank you for your patience.)