Information for

Embryo Recipients

What are the requirements in becoming an embryo donation recipient?

  • The recipient must have medical clearance from their family doctor and/or specialist to become pregnant as we are unable to accommodate the use of surrogates at this time
  • Be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident
  • Be residing in Canada at the time of the embryo donation

Have more questions? Feel free to email us at

Learn More about the Recipient Process

Working with Beginnings has been a wonderful blessing for our family and through embryo donation has led to to two adorable children. We are also enjoying a deepening relationship with the donor family, which has enriched our lives tremendously. Going down the path of embryo donation is one of the best decisions we have ever made.

MJ & N (recipients)

Beginnings has allowed us to fulfill the greatest hope and dream of our lives. We are profoundly grateful to Mary for enabling the perfect match with our amazing donor family. In just a few months, we’ll be holding our first child in our arms, after years of trying to build our family. We are overflowing with gratitude and joy!

L & N (recipients)

We are so glad that we discovered Beginnings and were able to experience an “open donation”. Mary’s support was greatly appreciated and we are thrilled to be expecting the birth of our first son any day now. We really believe in this program and wish more people knew about it.

R & A (recipients)

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    Have Questions?


    What is embryo donation?

    Embryo donation involves the transfer of a human embryo from a donor couple to a recipient woman.

    How does embryo donation differ from egg or sperm donation?

    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.

    How does embryo donation differ from surrogacy?

    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 after the legal agreement has been signed. The recipient carries the embryo to term and becomes the delivered child’s birth mother.

    How does embryo donation differ from infant adoption?

    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.


    Does Beginnings promote the use of IVF as a way to create a family?

    Beginnings neither promotes nor condones the use of IVF as a means of creating a family. Beginnings offers options to individuals and couples who have surplus embryos created as a result of IVF procedures.

    Does Beginnings encourage the creation and freezing of embryos?

    No. Beginnings does not encourage the use of a medical treatment to create embryos for this purpose. Beginnings is working to provide an alternative to the dilemma faced by the families with tens of thousands of embryos frozen in clinics across Canada.

    Can recipients pursue successive pregnancies using embryos that remain?

    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.

    Does Beginnings work at the outset with individuals/couples engaging in IVF treatments who want to pursue embryo donation?

    The decision to donate embryos is typically made after individuals or individuals/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 individuals/couples making decisions about IVF treatment and any surplus embryos created and stored.

    In the event of one partner’s death, can the remaining partner donate embryos to Beginnings for placement?

    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.

    Does Beginnings facilitate the donation of embryos created using donated sperm or eggs?

    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.

    Does Beginnings work with embryo donors and recipients throughout Canada?

    Yes. Beginnings can work with embryo donors in any province or territory across Canada.

    Does Beginnings work with embryo donors and recipients outside of Canada?

    No. Beginnings works with embryo donors and recipients solely residing in Canada but if a Canadian donor has used an out of country fertility clinic, the embryos could be brought to Canada.

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