eggEver considered adopting a child? I’m right there with you.

Having struggled through two years of infertility, I’ve often pondered the possibility of adoption—while still opting for treatment and clinging to the hope of getting pregnant myself. All things considered, my end goal is to have a family, and I’ve become increasingly open to pursuing any means that will achieve that end. So imagine my intrigue when I learned there was an adoption method that a) allows you to carry and give birth to the baby and b) costs thousands of dollars less than traditional adoption. (Talk about a happy medium, right?)

Welcome to the fascinating—and somewhat uncharted—world of embryo adoption. Here’s how it works: Women who’ve been through IVF and have excess frozen embryos agree to donate them to infertile couples. Following a selection process that somewhat mimics traditional adoption, the adoptive mother is then implanted, and in an ideal outcome, impregnated with the chosen embryo.

According to HRC Fertility’s Jane Frederick, M.D., the concept has started to gain popularity due to the sheer number of frozen embryos (or “snowbabies”) that are often left to languish. “There are over 400,000 embryos in storage across the country, and unfortunately thousands of them have been abandoned,” says Frederick. “Over the last 10 years, I’ve seen couples become more open to the idea of doing something altruistic and donating their unused embryos to other couples.”

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