Beginnings Family Services

Open Embryo Donor/Recipient Program

Beginnings Family Services has been helping build families in Ontario since 1985. We established the first national open embryo donation program in Canada in 2010. Since then, we have helped many families to achieve their dream of having children and have established professional relationships with fertility clinics across the country. We are an inclusive agency that offers services to everyone.

Our embryo donor/recipient program offers individuals and couples who have completed their own IVF journey the opportunity to donate their remaining embryos to other individuals and couples hoping to become parents. This selfless donation may be the answer to a dilemma of what to do with one’s remaining embryos while also offering hope to another family.

Beginnings promotes a child-focused approach that allows children the possibility of developing relationships with important people in their lives, including genetic parents and siblings.  Beginnings has been helping families develop positive connections for over 38 years.

The amount of contact is discussed between the donors and recipients and varies from one situation to another. However, for many of our families, open embryo donation involves ongoing communication and contact between the donor parent(s) and the recipient(s), including the child. This can take the form of providing updates, sharing new medical information, phone or video contact and/or in-person visits. Our professional team of social workers has the expertise to help you navigate open embryo donation and to figure out what works best for you and your family. We offer ongoing counselling as needed for issues that might arise around talking to your children and others or around  supporting the open relationship with the other family. We also have a peer support group that meets several times a year and invites guest speakers.

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

DCC is an all-volunteer organization that arranges peer-to-peer support group meetings. DCC provides support groups for families built using donor sperm, eggs, embryos, and/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 involved the transfer of a human embryo from an individual or family that has completed their own IVF journey (the donor(s)) to an individual or family that is hoping have a child (the recipient(s)/intended parent(s)).

    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 person with a uterus to carry a pregnancy on behalf of the intended parents. The surrogate may or may not have any genetic link to the child they are carrying but is considered the birth parent when a child is born.  With embryo donation, the donor(s) relinquish all rights to the embryo and resulting child after the legal agreement has been signed. With embryo donation, a recipient carries the embryo to term and becomes the delivered child’s birth parent.

    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 and/or the gamete providers used by the donors) to a recipient. If successful, a child is born to the recipient. Since the recipient gives birth to the child, they are considered the birth and legal parent of the child.
    • Adoption is a process that involves the legal transfer of parental rights and responsibilities from the birth parent(s) to the adopting individual or 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” is used for the sake of clarity.
    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. If you have utilized donated sperm and/or eggs, we encourage you to review your donor contracts to ensure that you have the legal right to donate your remaining embryos to a recipient.

    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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