Beginnings Family Services

Open Embryo Donor/Recipient Program

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.

There are many ways a child can become a member of a family.  Many infertile individuals/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, individuals/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 Donor/Recipient Program giving individuals/couples successful in IVF the opportunity to donate their remaining embryos to infertile individuals/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.

We at ONE Fertility feel very fortunate to work with the Beginnings Embryo Donation team. The staff that we coordinate with are always extremely helpful and truly care about our patients. They have on multiple occasions gone the extra mile. We are excited to have them as a part of our community and look forward to working with them in the future.

Anova Fertility has developed a great partnership with Beginnings Family Services. We appreciate how well they communicate with our clinic and how attentive they are to their patients.

Embryo Donor/Recipient Program

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?

Maclean’s Article

Inside a new fertility trend: Embryo Donation

Donor Conception Canada

Support Network

We provide support groups for families built using donor sperm, eggs, embryos or surrogacy. Conversations center on helping children find a healthy view of their origin, helping parents navigate their context, and learning from each other.

Follow the link for further information.

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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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