At a glance, adoption seems relatively simple.
However, in reality, it is very complex and often a difficult area of law to grasp.
Georgia adoption law is no exception.
Traditionally, adoption has been thought of as a process in which an adult couple becomes the parents of an already born child.
However, with the amazing developments of in vitro fertilization and science as a whole, state law is catching up with technology and passing laws allowing for the adoption of frozen embryos.
In 2009, Georgia was the first state in the nation to pass a law addressing embryo adoption.
Under Georgia’s Option of Adoption Act, an embryo is defined as “an individual fertilized ovum of the human species from a single-cell stage to eight-week development.”
Under this act, a recipient of an embryo is permitted to petition the court, either prior to the birth of a child or after the birth of a child, for an expedited order of adoption or parentage.
In modern-day America, many couples who face fertility issues attempt to conceive through in vitro fertilization.
Often during in vitro fertilization treatments, couples harvest multiple eggs and generally produce more than one embryo.
Typically, any embryos that are not used in the first procedure are frozen for future attempts.
However, if a family conceives and delivers a child, and later decides that their family is complete; they may not choose to use all their stored embryos.
At that time, the couple must decide whether to continue to store the embryos, discard the embryos, or donate the embryos for adoption.
Embryo adoption allows couples that have frozen embryos to donate them to individuals or couples wishing to have children. The donating couple then transfers or relinquishes parental rights to any children born from the embryos.
This must occur before the embryos are implanted in the adoptive mother.
Once the adoptive family has been legally transferred the responsibility of the embryos, all responsibilities for the embryos and any resulting children cease for the donating couple.
With embryo adoptions, the adopting mother must be able to carry a child full-term.
As you might know, this is different from a surrogacy situation, in which an agreement is reached for the embryos to be transferred into a surrogate mother, and she then carries the baby for the intended parents. However, with an embryo adoption, the adoptive mother carries the child or children herself.
Within the United States, there are several agencies that provide embryo adoption services. However, in order to be considered for an embryo adoption by these agencies, most of them require that a family complete an embryo adoption home study before they can be matched with a donating couple.
This type of home study is similar to that which is completed for a domestic or international adoption. Each agency has its own guidelines and requirements regarding marital status, age limits and religious preference.
In addition, people often inquire as to the fees associated with embryo adoptions. Compared to many domestic and especially international adoptions, embryo adoption can be more affordable.
Each transfer or adoption of embryos can cost as low as $4,000 to $5,000 if going through a private agency.
Total costs for the embryo adoption can range from $6,000 to $15,000 on average, but may be higher or lower based on many factors.
Most of these expenses cover the legal contracts, medical procedures and various fees associated with the adoption.
Therefore, embryo adoption is a low-cost adoption alternative when compared to in vitro fertilization or other forms of adoption.
Subsequently, the most exciting aspect of embryo adoption is that you have the opportunity to give birth to your adopted child.
However, due to the complexity of legal issues involved, families considering this option should consult with an attorney, in addition to an embryo donation center or medical provider.
Trey Goodwin is a Partner with Goodwin & Goodwin, Attorneys at Law, LLP in Canton. He is a native of Cherokee County, and a graduate of Florida State University and Oklahoma City University School of Law.