Study: Parents Have Strong Bond With Children From Embryo Adoption

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 28, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Study: Parents Have Strong Bond With Children From Embryo Adoption

by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 28, 2004

Berlin, Germany ( — new study reveals that parents who receive donated embryos and subsequently have children have a strong emotional bond and a concern for their children. They also don’t plan to tell their children about how they were conceived.

A psychologist at City University in London questioned couples who had children as a result of embryo donations, parents who had adopted children, and families who had conceived through in-vitro fertilization.

Fiona MacCallum told a fertility conference that there was no difference in the attitudes of the couples, despite their varying situations.

However, even though they were as committed to their children as other parents, couples who had children as a result of embryo donations preferred not to tell their children about the circumstances surrounding their birth.

"The most common reasons for not telling the child about their method of creation were fears that it would upset the child or damage family relationships," MacCallum said, according to a Reuters report.

She said the parents felt that, because the mother had the embryo implanted and carried the baby to term she was the "real" mother — not the woman who donated an egg to create the embryo.

Like couples who adopt, parents of children born from donated embryos have no genetic link to their sons or daughters. However the birthing process may form a deeper bond.

The survey found that such parents were more likely to put the child’s needs first, to not rely on daycare or babysitters, even though there was no difference in parenting quality.

"This supports the idea that it is the level of commitment to parenting that is important, and not the presence or absence of biological links between parents and children," MacCallum told a meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction & Embryology.

Pro-life groups have encouraged couples to adopt human embryos that have been created for couples undergoing fertility treatments. Extra embryos — unique human beings at the earliest stages of life — are often destroyed if not needed.

The Christian Medical Association developed the National Embryo Donation Center in an effort to provide compassionate solutions to the problems that arise when embryos are created, but not implanted.

The Executive Director of the Christian Medical Association, Dr. David Stevens, said, "Many couples who have used reproductive technology in an effort to have children are faced with the issue of embryos who will not be implanted and brought to birth. Thankfully, such couples now have the option of allowing another couple to receive their embryo(s) and to provide a loving home for any child that may result."

Stevens notes that couples who adopt embryos are able to experience childbirth in addition to the experience of raising an adopted child.

"Embryo adoption is especially good because you’re saving a life. There is no better way to adopt than to adopt an embryo," Stevens said.

It has been estimated that as many as 400,000 human embryos are now frozen in U.S. fertility clinics, awaiting implantation.