First Conference On Embryo Placement Sparks National Discussion

29 Jan 2009 / Medical News Today

The growing debate over the placement of embryos moved to center stage last year at the first national conference held on the topic.

In her Pediatric Ethics, Issues, & Commentary column in the November-December 2008 issue of Pediatric Nursing, Anita J. Catlin examines this controversial issue and outlines the many moral, legal, ethical and spiritual questions that remain unanswered.

At the "Emerging Issues in Embryo Adoption and Donation" conference, held in May and funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, child adoption advocates, property attorneys, ethicists, representatives of religious and adoption organizations and donor/recipient couples held open discussions.

On the legal side, Catlin, who attended the conference, explains that embryos "are not live children, and because only live children can be legally adopted in the U.S., the transfer of embryos from one family to another is considered a transfer of property." Christian speakers felt the embryos were children in "cold storage" and stated that using the embryos for research would be a "holocaust" of 500,000 lives. On the other side, couples who had implanted embryos and successfully given birth described their joy as new parents.

A primary focus of the conference, Catlin writes, was on use of the word "adoption" and all it implies. Speaker Thomas C. Atwood, President and CEO of the National Council for Adoption (NCFA) said he was deeply concerned about the impact embryo placement would have on other children waiting for adoption and posed that the "highly controversial, complex, and imperfect" policies and practices of embryo transfer put it in an entirely different category than the well-established adoption process. He recommended using the term "embryo placement for pregnancy and parenting," or "embryo placement" for short, as a preferable neutral term instead of "adoption," due to the legal and moral controversies and to avoid harming "the precious institution of adoption."

Catlin suggests careful consideration of Atwood's and others' questions in the future, but believes embryo placement is "morally possible."

"Issues and Ethics Related to Embryo Placement: A National Discussion"
Anita J. Catlin, DNSc, FNP, FAAN Pediatric Nursing, November-December 2008; http://www.pediatricnursing.net

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some of my thoughts

Embryo adoption is one of those areas where I can't seem to be able to make up my mind. On the one hand I see advantages over regular infant adoption. Due to in-utero bonding I believe embryo adoption does away with the loss aspect that always comes with regular adoption, but several issues remain.

Genetic differences between parent and child are still there, something that can become an issue if the parents decide not to tell the child. Another issue, which also relates to secrecy, is the possibility to track down the embryo donors. At some point in time children will want to know who are genetically their parents, a phenomenon that is already known from children born from sperm donation.

Since there is money to be made through embryo adoption the risk of fraudulent practices is there. Who is to say that the embryos of people who don't want to donate, but created during an IVF procedure, are not being sold and used for embryo adoption. How can we guarentee that embryo harvesting becomes/remains an ethical practice.

So for me there is no definite no to this practice, but I see several issues looming that make it less ideal than it sounds at first.

I am ok with Embryo

I am ok with Embryo adoption.... but I think it needs to be regulated like adoption - I think families should have home studies, be counseled about talking to their child about their genetic origin. And like Niels said, I am very concerned about the future chances for corruption - ie creating embryoes for the sole purpose of placing them for adoption.

If the bio parents do not want to be known at adoption, records must be maintained so this information is available when the child is 18.
Open records needs to be available for all adoptions.

perhaps I should say

perhaps I should say regulated like adoption SHOULD be

but I think it needs to be regulated like adoption

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