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Embryo Adoption, Christians and T4ACon

by Dan Cruver Published Sep 16, 2010

Have you thought much about embryo adoption? For whatever reason, most of us haven’t given it much thought. I’ve had a few unanswered questions about it myself. I knew that my friend, Scotty Anderson (Assistant Pastor to Families & Youth at Woodruff Road Presbyterian), had written a fact sheet about embryo adoption to help his church think biblically about it, so I asked if he could send it to me. I posted it below because he has some really helpful thoughts. If you are attending our upcoming conference (T4ACon), you may wish to consider our breakout session on “Embryo Adoption and the Protection of Life” (see the end of this post).

Embryo Adoption and Christians

Biblical Normality of Embryo Adoption

All Life Has Dignity Without Qualification – Gen 1:26ff, 5:2ff, James 3:9

Preserving Life a Duty of Christians – Ex 20:12, Gen 9:6

Christian Liberty – Ps 19:14; Rom 14:3

Similarity to Levirate Marriage – Deut 25:5-10

Picture of Redemption in Adoption – Rom 8:15, 23; Gal 4:5; 1 Jn 3:1

Interesting parallels in Eph 1:3-10 with Embryo Adoption (for observation, not argumentation)

Chosen before for adoption

Redemption through blood (provided by mother)

Uniting things in heaven and earth in the fullness of time

Cultural Normality of Embryo Adoption

In vitro fertilization is now mainstream in the West…point being, technological babies are not the marvel they once were

Adoption is generally mainstream in the West for people under 50

In short, embryo adoption as a cultural phenomenon is interesting, but not scandalous for most Americans and younger Christians

Cost of Embryo Adoption

Agency Fee – $2,500-$10,000

Home Study/FamilyAssessment – $1,000-$2,500

Clinic Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) – $2,500-$5,000

TOTAL – $6,000-$17,500 – Generally less expensive than domestic or international adoption (

Medical Issues and Success of Embryo Implantation

About 50% of frozen and thawed embryos remain viable

Embryo implantation is successful approximately 38% of the time (

Ethics of Embryo Adoption

In vitro fertilization carries with it considerable concerns because of the creation of life outside the womb without the intention of it being carried to term. The creation of the “excess” embryos is not in itself a necessity, but frequently a pragmatic and monetary concern. In one sense, it would seem to be a case of conscience whether or not a Christian would pursue this method. But, in pursuing it, there are definite limitation on how it might be pursued.

As to the ethical propriety of carrying the child whose genetic makeup is other than the parents into whose family the child would be born, standard arguments of adoption would apply. This would be buttressed by the Mosaic provision for Levirate Marriage (cf. Gen 38:8-9, Deut 25:5-6) which indicate God’s approval of such or at least a similar situation.

Legality of Embryo Adoption

Because Embryo Adoption is an early technology, there are limited statutes on the books related to it.

Agencies tend to follow the same procedures performed with all others forms of adoption in as much as they are applicable in order to prevent legal challenges to the adoption at a later date – a better safe than sorry approach

Questions and Answers (not commonly asked about other forms of adoption)

Doesn’t it encourage the excesses of in vitro fertilization? “Adopting parents are not complicit in the ‘production’ (I shudder to type such a horrible word in reference to a human creature) of these children. Again, the children are already conceived. The adopting parents are no more endorsing the technologies involved than parents adopting from an unwed mother are endorsing fornication or adultery.” – Russell Moore

Doesn’t it take away from opportunities for waiting children to have homes? No. Most available newborns do not wait for parents, whereas parents frequently wait for available newborns. The parents who would pursue embryo adoption would ordinarily be the same as those who would pursue infant adoption. (This also begs the question, is the life of a three month old more valuable then a child in an embryonic state.)

What’s the difference between adoption and donations? – “Embryo adoption provides the same safeguards that the traditional adoption process offers.The donating family knows that the family they have chosen to parent their child has been screened for a criminal history and child abuse record, as well as educated about how to parent an adopted child.The donating parents have the peace of mind of having personally selected a family to raise their genetic child. They also have the opportunity to have contact with the adopting family to whatever extent both families are comfortable. The children, genetic siblings, would also have the opportunity to connect later on if they desired.” (

Here is the breakout session on embryo adoption (Breakout Session 3  – Oct. 1, 4:00 – 5:00 pm – non-track specific):

Embryo Adoption and the Protection of Life (Laura Godwin, Nightlight Christian Adoptions). There are more than 500,000 embryos in storage. What is their future? Well, there are four options for these embryos: indefinite cryopreservation; objects of research resulting in destruction; destruction; or life. As we consider adoption, some will be called to adopt newborns, some to adopt children in orphanages around the world, and some to adopt waiting embryos. All life is precious in God’s eyes. Whatever our individual emphasis may be, let us stand together in protecting and preserving all life. If you are starting the adoption journey, you may want to consider your role in giving life to one of these embryos. Your adoption will just start earlier than most and you will get to experience pregnancy and the birth of your newborn infant.
  • http://Website Wes Butler

    As the father of a now 7 year old empryo adopted son, I am so grateful for this option that my wife and I discovered at the time we did in our journey through infertility and beginning to build our family through adoption (since then we have adopted 2 more kids, 1 domestic, 1 international, and are in the process to adopt again internationally). We heard about Nightlight through Focus on the Family, and, to the best of our knowledge, were the first frozen embryo adoption that Nightlight did in Texas. Much of what is mentioned in this article was what we wrestled through and what ultimately led us to make the decision to adopt this way. I wouldn’t change a thing, but I do wish we had known more going in.

    Specifically, there are two issues that I would like to shed more light on for anyone interested in this option. First, the cost that is listed in the above article was what was presented to us and was very attractive as a family with limited resources (I was a young pastor at a small church at the time). However, I think that price is accurate IF you get pregnant the first time. For us, we had two failed transfers before finally getting pregnant with our son on the 3rd attempt. I cannot speak to actual cost of each transfer today, but it was not cheap, so I would say that the price of a frozen embryo adoption for us was no less than what we spent on our international adoption and perhaps even more expensive.

    Secondly, it is CRUCIAL that you understand the doctor’s philosophy that you ultimately choose. We used two different doctors with two different philosophies, and each of their philosophies raised different ethical questions that believers should wrestle through before making their decision. These are not easy questions with cookie-cutter answers, so believers should dedicate much time to prayer and fasting in this particular part of the decision process. I won’t go into all of the details, but suffice it to say that when dealing with embryos created outside the womb, then frozen for a time, there are more questions than answers.

    All of that being said, I am so grateful for Josiah and the journey that we took and what the Lord taught us in that journey, and am thrilled that T4A is keeping this option in front of people. Brandy and I would be thrilled to talk about our experience with anyone who is interested and have done so on many occasions through the ministries of our church (Watermark Community Church in Dallas). You can reach me at


    P.S. Nightlight and their staff were amazing 8 years ago and am confident that remains the case today!

  • Pingback: Thoughts on Embryo Adoption at T4A blog | From Hope to Reality | The Adoption Blog of Nightlight Christian Adoptions

  • http://Website Sandra E.

    Wow! What an amazing conference! We adopted out our 9 embryos through Nightlife 10 years ago, and my threesome have a miracle brother, who was born almost 10 years ago today. I just found out that our adopting Mom just spoke at the conference this weekend! God works in ways to allow our families to be connected in more ways that we can imagine. We truly pray that the initial bonds that my children have established with their brother, who shares the same name as my son, will only to continue to grow. Thank you for the Biblical references, which I can now share with my family and other inquiring minds! Bless you on your work and the miracles that have an will occur because of your work!

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