Donation of Embryos & the Complex Family Tree

Embryo donation & family trees- I found an interesting article today that I thought might provoke some thoughts in both the industry and by those considering this option. I have included the family tree diagram, which was very interesting and provocative; however, at the same time I felt that shows how diverse families are and how these individuals came together to create several beautiful families – without the children losing their sense of identity. Let me know your thoughts.

“Last winter, McLaughlin and her husband, Pat, were given the twins’ embryos from a couple in California who had successfully birthed a son. With two children already, their family was complete.

But the California couple never anticipated that four frozen embryos would remain — scant specks in glass pipettes, each about a hundred cells in all and visible only to a microscope.

The McLaughlins are among at least 260 families nationwide each year who successfully have babies after embryo donation, sometimes called embryo adoption.

In the process, the couple have plunged headlong into the dicey ethical, religious and medical debate over the creation and fate of frozen embryos.

It’s a debate that Jen McLaughlin, who is Catholic, has tackled with total certainty, grounded in a belief that the embryos are moral equivalents of children.

…..So much so that McLaughlin and the donors are pushing the bounds of a simmering ethical debate on embryo donation even further by rethinking what “family” really means and just how far their children’s genetic bonds should go.

Embryo donation sometimes is an anonymous process, with donors and recipients engaging in a cloaked transaction through fertility labs that severs the likelihood of a future child’s linking to a genetic past.

But these two couples insisted on an open process so the genetically related children — even the children who still may be born from the two remaining frozen embryos — would stay connected. They felt their children had a right to know their genetic heritage, no matter if their full and half siblings are raised by different parents in different circumstances and most did not come from the same womb.”

The story continues, “Social scientists also aren’t sure what may come of this. While research suggests open adoption is healthy in traditional circumstances, there is no research on how embryo adopted children may fare in open arrangements. And some worry that parents are imposing sibling relationships on the children without first giving them a choice.

That concern is shared even by some conservative groups that encourage adopting embryos but condemn the technology that made them.

“My concern always in these cases is the adults who are creating all of these confusing relationships, and the way they do it fairly nonchalantly,” said Barbara Quigley, executive director of the Center for Bioethics and Culture Missouri.

McLaughlin says it’s all very simple when you look into the sleeping faces of her twins.

“People are going to look at their photos and agree this is the right thing to do,” she said.

All the studies in the world also aren’t going to change the embryo donor’s convictions about open adoption and donation.

“I think that most people who are researchers have never been adopted,” she said. “If they haven’t had that experience, they couldn’t possibly know what it was like.”

So, with tiny baby steps, everyone is moving ahead in this most modern of families, linked genetically and contractually, potentially for a lifetime.”

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