News Articles

Ga. may see U.S.’ 1st embryo adoption law

ATLANTA (BP)–Georgia could become the first state in the nation with laws governing embryo adoptions under a bill that passed the state House and is now before the Senate.

Embryo adoption is a unique form of adoption in which couples — often infertile ones — adopt surplus frozen embryos from in vitro fertilization. One benefit over traditional forms of adoption is that it allows the woman to experience pregnancy.

Although embryo adoption has been championed for years by pro-lifers and some adoption agencies nationwide and is legal in Georgia, there are no laws governing it. The couples who provide the embryos and those who adopt them must first sign private legal contracts before the embryos are transferred from one party to the other. The contracts treat the embryos as property.

The Georgia bill, known as the Option of Adoption Act (H.B. 388), would govern the embryos under adoption laws and provide safeguards for both parties. It would give the adopting couple an added level of comfort to know that once the legal requirements are met and the transfer is complete, they are the legal custodians.

The bill has the support of Ron Stoddart, executive director of Nightlight Christian Adoptions, which runs the nation’s oldest embryo adoption program — the Snowflakes program.

“Science has outpaced our legislation in clarifying the rights of the parties in potential disputes involving embryo transfer between families,” Stoddart told Baptist Press. “There needs to be certainty, particularly before an embryo is thawed and implanted in the womb of an adopting mother. The opponents of the legislation, I’m sure, will focus on giving the embryos more rights of personhood, but the reality is that this is important for the sake of the children to be born and the donor and adopting parents.”

Stoddart claims the bill will provide another valuable bonus for embryo adopting couples in Georgia: clarifying that they are eligible for the federal adoption tax credit, which this year is $11,650. The adoption tax credit is a significant tax benefit to couples who go the traditional adoption route.

The bill passed the Georgia House of Representatives, 96-66, March 12.

“It is needed in order to clarify the relationships between the donor of the embryos — the genetic parents — and those seeking to adopt the embryo,” Daniel Becker, President of Georgia Right to Life, told BP. “Because you don’t want a woman to go through nine months of pregnancy only to find out that the original parents want their child back. This would clarify that in the code.”

The Georgia bill states in part, “A child born to a recipient intended parent as the result of embryo relinquishment … shall be presumed to be the legal child of the recipient intended parent; provided that each legal embryo custodian and each recipient intended parent has entered into a written contract.”

Although embryo donation programs differ, embryo adoptions typically have some similarities to traditional adoption. For instance, the biological parents can, if they wish, choose the adopting couple for their embryos. Adopting couples also can choose to adopt anonymously, whereby they would adopt embryos but know little or nothing about the biological parents.
Michael Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press. For more information about embryo adoption, visit the following websites: www.Snowflakes.org, www.EmbryoAdoption.org, www.EmbryoDonation.org. Many local adoption agencies also help facilitate embryo adoptions.

    About the Author

  • Michael Foust