An “embryo adoption” service was founded earlier this month through the Cedar Park Assembly of God Church in Seattle by Maria Lancaster, whose daughter Elisha was conceived after an embryo donation. Nationally, there are close to 400,000 frozen embryos currently in storage left over from in vitro fertilization procedures.
According to the Seattle Times, brochures advertising the Embryo Adoption Services of Cedar Park indicate that the organization opposes embryonic stem-cell research. Currently, couples who undergo in vitro fertilization treatment have the choice to donate extra embryos to research facilities or to infertile couples, to store remaining embryos, or to have the embryos destroyed.
Several groups have taken issue with the term “embryo adoption”. According to the Seattle Times, Sean Tipton, spokesman for the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, says the group supports a couple’s right to choose to donate their embryos, but the term “adoption” helps groups who “want to elevate the moral status of the embryo to be the equivalent of an existing child.” Similarly, Karen Cooper, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, called the term “a political stunt, appealing on emotions.”
Ultimately, there is still debate over what to do with embryos that are in storage. Art Caplan, Director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, told the Seattle Weekly that embryo adoption will not solve the problem because “it’s just not going to get that many customers” and many embryos are not viable after freezing and thawing out.