There's an article making the rounds about a NASA scientist who adopted and gave birth to an embryo which had been frozen for 18 years. The utterly surreal thing that struck me out of the article, however, was this description of the legal process:
Because embryos cannot be sold (although the ethics of that were recently challenged in the New England Journal of Medicine), those that are donated must be “adopted,” with the receivers going through the same adoption procedure they would face if adopting a baby. So Burke quickly put together her adoption portfolio for the Oregon couple, and then endured a five-month wait as they pondered who to ultimately get the embryos.So apparently our laws are such that adopting an embryo requires the same paperwork as adopting any other child -- yet at the same time it is perfectly legal for a couple which has created a number of embryos during an IVF procedure to have the "left over" embryos destroyed at any time and for any reason. They're treated as persons or as waste depending on the wishes of their biological parents.
“A lot of people wanted those embryos, so they had a pretty arduous process to go through,” Burke said, although she admitted the wait, plus endless rounds of personal questions, became frustrating. “I wanted to know what was going to happen, so that if they didn’t pick me I could move on.”