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  • Writer's pictureRalph M. Tsong

What is in an embryo donation agreement?


embryo donation agreement

Embryo donation, sometimes called embryo adoption, is a process where individuals or couples who have undergone in vitro fertilization (IVF) and possess surplus frozen embryos choose to donate their embryos to others. In some cases, a partner may wish to donate his or her joint interest in embryos they created with their other partner, so the other partner has the sole parenting rights and determines the disposition of the embryos.


Embryo donation follows certain rules laid out in a legal document called an "embryo donation agreement." This agreement outlines the rights and responsibilities of both the people donating embryos and those receiving them. It serves as a guide, clearly defining the terms and conditions for the transfer of frozen embryos, ensuring that the parties’ parental relationship to the embryos and their intentions moving forward is clear.


Here are some important points covered in the embryo donation agreement:

  • The Parties’ identities: The agreement includes the names of both parties, the donor(s) and the recipient(s), unless they opt for anonymous donation. An anonymous donation will omit names to respect privacy preferences.  

  • Costs: While donors are not paid for the donation of embryos as the embryos are already created, the donors may have some costs that they request payment from recipients, such as their screening, attorney fees, and storage fees. The costs section will also make it clear the recipients are responsible for future medical expenses relating to the storage, shipment, and IVF cycle.  

  • Disposition of Remaining Embryos: This part of the contract discusses what happens to any leftover embryos after the recipients have finished their family-building process. Unlike egg donation agreements, where the donors usually have no right to claim the gametes back, embryo donations offer options including donating them back to the donors, whether they may be donated for research, to others, or disposed of based on the donors' wishes.  

  • Parentage and Legal Rights: The embryo donation agreement establishes that once the agreement is signed, the recipients will be the legal owners of the embryos and legal parents of any resulting child born from the embryos. This transfer of parental rights from the donors to the recipients is irrevocable, meaning that the donors shall not make any claim to the child and the recipients shall not assert that the donors have any responsibility.  

  • Medical and Psychological Screening: The agreement may include provisions for screening the health and psychological well-being of both donors and recipients. This helps assess their suitability for the embryo donation process and ensure the parties understand the possible psychological risks. 

  • Future Contact and Information Sharing: Most embryo agreements discuss the possibility of future contact between donors, recipients, and any resulting child and genetic siblings. This section will outline the extent to which information of the parties may be shared by others, and the expectations for ongoing communication. Some donations opt to remain anonymous but have the choice for future communication through a donor portal.  


In conclusion, these are the key components of the embryo donation agreement to ensure a smooth and ethically sound embryo donation process. A well-drafted contract will provide transparency and expectations for all parties before starting the process. With the help of separate legal representation, the embryo agreement can be enforceable, protecting the interests of everyone involved. 


If you're planning to engage in an embryo donation or need assistance in an embryo donation in California, New York, Illinois, Washington, Arizona, or Oklahoma, the attorneys at Tsong Law Group are licensed to practice in these states. We can assist with reviewing or drafting your embryo donation agreement, explaining relevant laws, and offering legal advice. For more information, contact us now. 

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