Beginnings Family Services
Open Embryo Donation
Open embryo donation involves ongoing communication and contact between the donor parents and the recipients, including the child. This can take the form of letters, emails, phone calls, and/or visits. The amount of contact is negotiated between the donors and recipients and varies from one situation to another.
Beginnings, together with many professionals in the medical community, believes openness is most beneficial for the children. An open approach allows children to maintain relationships with important people in their lives, including genetic parents and siblings. Of particular importance, Beginnings advocates an approach that allows children and parents access to information about genetic origins.
In the Media
Toronto Star Article
These kids are genetic siblings and each was born to a different mother
Katie Couric Show
The Katie Couric show on September 30th about Embryo Donation. Spread the word. What a great option
Globe and Mail Article
The IVF Question: What to do with leftover embryos?
Canada Adopts Blog
Open Embryo Donation vs. Open Adoption: What’s the Difference?
Information On Beginnings
Open Embryo Donation Program
There are many ways a child can become a member of a family. Many infertile couples choose adoption while others look to assisted reproductive technologies including in-vitro fertilization (IVF) to create their family.
Meanwhile thousands of unused frozen embryos resulting from IVF treatments remain stored in fertility clinics across Canada. Once their family is complete, couples with frozen embryos are faced with a dilemma – what to do with their remaining embryos. In the past, options were limited to having embryos destroyed, leaving the embryos stored indefinitely, donating embryos for medical research or possibly donating their embryos anonymously within a limited number of fertility clinics
But now there is another option. Beginnings Family Services is offering an Embryo Donation Program giving couples successful in IVF the opportunity to donate their remaining embryos to infertile couples hoping to become parents. This selfless donation offers a chance for life, hope and a future for thousands of embryos.
Beginnings Family Services offers open embryo donation and facilitate donations across Canada and between fertility clinics.
Mary and the team at Beginnings were so great to work with and very sympathetic to our situation. We would highly recommend Beginnings to any couple, like us, who might be out of steam to keep growing their family but may have frozen embryos remaining. What a great opportunity they facilitate to honour life and to help couples struggling with infertility.
Our experience with Beginnings started 2 years after the birth of our daughter, who was conceived through IVF. After we decided that our family was complete, we had three embryos left over from the IVF treatment, and the only choices we were given through our fertility clinic were to either keep them cryogenically frozen indefinitely, or to donate them to science, with their eventual destruction. Neither my husband nor I believed in destroying the embryos, and because we knew we were not going to use them, we researched any other options available to us, which led us to Beginnings and their embryo donation program.
Our counsellor, Mary, as well as the entire Beginnings team, helped us through the entire process from beginning to end, making it almost seamless. From our initial meeting, Mary helped us navigate the paperwork, and helped us select the recipient couple and facilitate in our meeting. She was there to answer all the questions that we had, and helped us work through the emotions surrounding not only the donation of our embryos, but also when we received the sad news that a pregnancy had not occurred for the other couple.
Our experience with Beginnings was fantastic, and I believe that embryo donation is a program that is under-valued and under-utilized by fertility clinics. For any couple who have embryos left after IVF and have completed their families, this is a beautiful way to help someone else start their family.
Embryo donation involves the transfer of a human embryo from a donor couple to a recipient woman.
Unlike embryo donation, neither egg nor sperm (gamete) donation procedures result in the birth of a child. Embryos are established entities which, given “appropriate conditions”, can lead to the birth of a child. According to Canadian law, embryos represent more than sperm and egg (gamete) but less than a living child because “appropriate conditions” are still required.
Embryo donation is not surrogacy. In a surrogacy arrangement, an agreement is made for a woman to carry a pregnancy on behalf of the intended parents. The surrogate may or may not have any genetic link to the child she is carrying, but is considered the birth mother when a child is born. With embryo donation, donors relinquish all rights to the embryo and resulting child prior to transfer. The recipient carries the embryo to term and becomes the delivered child’s birth mother. Surrogacy is regulated under the AHR Act (2004) and there can be no payment, or facilitating surrogacy arrangements.
Embryo donation differs from infant adoption because:
- Donation relates to the medical and legal transfer of tissue between patients.
- Embryo donation involves a medical procedure to transfer genetic tissue (the embryo) created by 2 parties (the donors) to a recipient. If successful, a child is born to the recipient mother. Since she gives birth to the child, she is considered the birth mother and legal parent of the child.
- Adoption is a process that involves the legal transfer of parental rights and responsibilities from the birth mother to the adopting couple. Consent for adoption cannot be given until after the birth of the child.
- Canadian law accords a lesser legal status to embryos than that of children. Accordingly, the term “donation” therefore is used for the sake of clarity.
Beginnings neither promotes nor condones the use of IVF as a means of creating a family. Beginnings offers options to couples who have surplus embryos created as a result of IVF procedures.
No. Beginnings does not encourage the use of a medical treatment to create embryos for this purpose. Beginnings is working to provide a life affirming alternative to the dilemma faced by the families with tens of thousands of embryos frozen in clinics across Canada.
Yes. If a pregnancy is achieved using one of the donated embryos and others still remain, they can be used at a later date in pursuit of future pregnancies.
The decision to donate embryos is typically made after individuals or couples have completed their own families and have surplus embryos remaining from their IVF treatment and not at the start of treatment. As part of our counselling services, Beginnings can assist individuals or couples making decisions about IVF treatment and any surplus embryos created and stored.
If the remaining partner has the sole right to make decisions, and/or has a legal consent signed by the deceased partner, for the stored embryos and can provide the required medical history, then it may be possible to donate these embryos to recipients. It means there will only be one donor parent involved in the open relationship with the recipient couple.
Yes. Beginnings can work with embryo donors in any province or territory across Canada.
Yes. Beginnings can work with embryo recipients in any province or territory across Canada.
No. Beginnings works with embryo donors solely in any province or territory across Canada but if a Canadian donor has used an out of Country fertility clinic, the embryos could be brought to Canada.
No. Beginnings works solely with embryo recipients in Canada.
Yes. Although Beginnings prefers to work with non-anonymous donors, we are able to work with donors who have used anonymous or identity release gamete donors, where there are no restrictions on doing so.