A JFF interview with Deb Roberts, CEO/Founder of Embryo Connections
Cryo-preserved embryos donated from one family to another can be the most viable route to parenthood for intended parents struggling through the fertility journey. This little-known route to conception has been growing over 2.5 times faster than any other fertility treatment, thanks to high success rates, lower overall risk, and substantially lower costs than any other fertility option.
Still, most couples suffering infertility or those with remaining embryos to donate aren’t aware that embryo donation is an option, and/or fear the unknowns, for example: Will I love my child? Will my child love me? What relationship burdens am I taking on with another family? What are the impacts on my own children that they have genetic siblings in another family?
Deb Roberts, Founder and CEO of Embryo Connections, shares her experience and vision for embryo donation:
What does Embryo Connections do?
Embryo Connections empowers complete in-vitro fertilization families to donate their embryos – and the incredible possibility of children - to intended parents, in ways that both feel comfortable and confident in their choices. The most important component is freedom to choose so that families can create the family they dreamed of including family characteristics, interaction, and embryo batches that support keeping genetic siblings together. In addition, Embryo Connections acts as a concierge service to take the burden out of the process.
Why is it important to you?
I believe that everyone who wants to love a child should be able to. You don’t need to close the door on conception and parenthood due to infertility.
I founded the organization after my own harrowing journey to parenthood. Six years ago, reproductive endocrinologists advised me had little chance at conception. After lots of discouraging failures, both in IVF and domestic adoption, I learned of this amazing option, that would allow me to create my family (most important!!), to experience pregnancy and to provide a healthy in-utero environment. Even then, I found obstacles of discrimination - religious, marital status, and age, and process - most clinics do not perform embryo donation.
I persevered, and quickly became the happy recipient of beautiful embryos. My little miracle is now almost two. I founded Embryo Connections because I couldn’t think of anything more important than to help others experience the kind of love that I have for my child.
How does it work?
Embryo Connections connects potential donor and intended parent families across the US. A little like a matchmaker, families meet with me to share desires about characteristics and interaction, and complete a profile. I then find matches that “fit”. When both families say “YES!” embryo case coordinators manage all of the process logistics for a smooth donation for all parties. We ensure that intended parents can do their embryo transfers at their own clinics, providing the documentation that allow clinics to easily and confidently accept the embryos to transfer. We coordinate FDA screening, legal, mental health and other process elements so that families with embryos can donate easily, without expense. Finally, case coordinators coordinate with embryology and nurse managers to prepare to ship or receive embryos, and arrange shipment. We believe that families – intended or complete – should be able to enjoy their life and family while we do the work to make dreams come true.
Please visit www.embryoconnections.org to learn more about the process and faces of embryo donation.