Embryo Donor Conception


I have recently commenced a research project called Decision Making about Embryos in Australia with my colleague Clare Bartholomaeus. This research involved interviews with people, including:

  • Embryo donors and those seeking to donate
  • Embryo recipients and those seeking donors
  • People with embryos in storage or previously in storage
  • Egg donors where resulting embryos were donated to a third party

The interviews focused on a range of key issues, which we will analyse in future publications, including:

  • Decision making practices for those who donate or receive embryos,
  • The emotion work involved for both donors and recipients with regards to embryo donation
  • How kinship ties are understood in the context of embryo donation, and
  • The role of clinics and counselling services in supporting donors, recipients, and donor conceived children

Applications of research findings for practitioners

Still to come.

Applications of research findings for (intending) parents and families

Still to come.

Resources for practitioners


The Australian and New Zealand Infertility Counsellors Association. (2007). ANZICA position paper – donor embryos.

The Fertility Society of Australia

Fitzgerald, O., Harris, K., Paul, R. C., & Chambers, G. M. (2017). Assisted reproductive technology in Australia and New Zealand 2015. Sydney: National Perinatal Epidemiology and Statistics Unit, the University of New South Wales.

National Health and Medical Research Council. (2017). Ethical guidelines on the use of assisted reproductive technology in clinical practice and research. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council.

Legislation on embryo donation in Australia (guide only)


ACART (Advisory Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technology) (Aotearoa/New Zealand) – Proposed Donation Guidelines: for family gamete donation, embryo donation, use of donated eggs with donated sperm and surrogacy: consultation document.

Resources for (intending) parents and families

Embryo donation/ART – government sources

Government of South Australia – SA Health – Donor conception register

NSW – Health – The central register

Embryo donation/ART – additional sources

AccessAustralia – Australia’s National Infertility Network

AccessAustralia – Australia’s National Infertility Network – Fact sheet: Donor embryo

Are you donor conceived?

Australian Donor Conception Network

Egg Donor Angels – Embryo donation

Embryo Donation Network

Health Law Central – Gamete and embryo donation

Reproductive Technology Council (WA) – Donor assisted conception

Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority (VARTA) (Victoria) – Donor conception

Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority (VARTA) (Victoria) – Thinking of donating sperm, eggs or embryos?


AccessAustralia – Australia’s National Infertility Network – Community forum

Australian Donor Conception Forum

Bubhub – Fertility assistance

Egg Donation Australia (forum)

Essential Baby – Donor conception support

Solo Mums by Choice Australia – Our forum


Donor Conception Network (UK)

Donor Sibling Registry

Embryo Adoption Awareness Centre (US)

Government of Canada – Egg, sperm and embryo donation (Canada)

Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (UK) – Donating your embryos

Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (UK) – Using donated eggs, sperm or embryos in treatment

Infertility Network (Canada)

National Embryo Donation Center (US)

National Gamete Donation Trust (UK) – Embryo donor

National Registry for Adoption (US) – Embryo adoption

National Registry for Adoption (US) – Embryo donation

Nightlight Christian Adoptions (US)

Books/sources with personal stories

ABC Australian Story – Lexie’s village

Carolyn Martinez – Our donor baby

Embryo Donation Network – Donor

Embryo Donation Network – Recipient

Embryo Donation Network – Donor conceived children

Lovett, N. (2017). Lexie’s village: A new kind of family. Paddington, NSW: RZ Publishing.

Picture books

Assisted Reproduction: Books for Children – Embryo donation

Creating a Family: The National Infertility & Adoption Education Nonprofit – Books for children conceived through embryo donation

My research publications

Riggs, D. W. (forthcoming). Diverse pathways to parenthood: Translating research to practice. Elsevier.

Other research publications (selected)


Access Australia. (2008). The utilisation and meaning of human embryos and eggs: A survey of Access Australia members. Rhodes, NSW: Access Australia.

de Lacey, S. (2007). Decisions for the fate of frozen embryos: Fresh insights into patients’ thinking and their rationales for donating or discarding embryos. Human Reproduction, 22(6), 1751-1758.

de Lacey, S., Rogers, W., & Richards, B. (2010). Directed embryo donation: Free choice or discrimination? Journal of Law and Medicine, 18(1), 169-177.

Fuscaldo, G., Russell, S., & Gillam, L. (2007). How to facilitate decisions about surplus embryos: Patients’ views. Human Reproduction, 22(12), 3129-3138.

Hammarberg, K., Johnson, L., & Petrillo, T. (2011). Gamete and embryo donation and surrogacy in Australia: The social context and regulatory framework. International Journal of Fertility & Sterility, 4(4), 176-183.

Kirkman, M. (2003). Egg and embryo donation and the meaning of motherhood. Women & Health, 38(2), 1-18.

Kirkman, M. (2008). Being a “real” mum: Motherhood through donated eggs and embryos. Women’s Studies International Forum, 31(4), 241-248.

Kovacs, G. T., Breheny, S. A., & Dear, M. J. (2003). Embryo donation at an Australian university in-vitro fertilisation clinic: Issues and outcomes. Medical Journal of Australia, 178(3), 127-129.

McMahon, C. A., & Saunders, D. M. (2009). Attitudes of couples with stored frozen embryos toward conditional embryo donation. Fertility and Sterility, 91(1), 140-147.

Millbank, J., Chandler, E., Karpin, I., & Stuhmcke, A. (2013). Embryo donation for reproductive use in Australia. Journal of Law and Medicine, 20, 789-810.

Millbank, J., Stuhmcke, A., Karpin, I., & Chandler, E. (2013). Enhancing reproductive opportunity: A study of decision-making concerning stored embryos. Report. University of Technology Sydney.

Millbank, J., Stuhmcke, A., & Karpin, I. (2017). Embryo donation and understanding of kinship: The impact of law and policy. Human Reproduction, 32(1), 133-138.


Baccino, G., Salvadores, P., & Hernández, E. R. (2014). Disclosing their type of conception to offspring conceived by gamete or embryo donation in Spain. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 32(1), 83-95.

Blyth, E., Frith, L., Paul, M. S., & Berger, R. (2011). Embryo relinquishment for family building: How should it be conceptualised? International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family, 25(2), 260-285.

Collard, C., & Kashmeri, S. (2011). Embryo adoption: Emergent forms of siblingship among Snowflakes® families. American Ethnologist, 38(2), 307-322.

Frith, L., & Blyth, E. (2013). They can’t have my embryo: The ethics of conditional embryo donation. Bioethics, 27(6), 317-324.

Frith, L., Blyth, E., & Lui, S. (2017). Family building using embryo adoption: Relationships and contact arrangements between provider and recipient families—a mixed-methods study. Human Reproduction, 32(5), 1092-1099.

Frith, L., Blyth, E., Paul, M. S., & Berger, R. (2011). Conditional embryo relinquishment: Choosing to relinquish embryos for family-building through a Christian embryo “adoption” programme. Human Reproduction, 26(12), 3327.

Goedeke, S., & Daniels, K. (Online First 2018). We wanted to choose us: How embryo donors choose recipients for their surplus embryos. Journal of Reproductive & Infant Psychology.

Goedeke, S., Daniels, K., Thorpe, M., & Du Preez, E. (2015). Building extended families through embryo donation: The experiences of donors and recipients. Human Reproduction, 30(10), 2340-2350.

Goedeke, S., & Daniels, K. (2017). The discourse of gifting in embryo donation: The understandings of donors, recipients, and counselors. Qualitative Health Research, 27(9), 1402-1411.

Goedeke, S., Daniels, K., & Thorpe, M. (2016). Embryo donation and counselling for the welfare of donors, recipients, their families and children. Human Reproduction, 31(2), 412-418.

Goedeke, S., & Daniels, K. R. (2017). Embryo donation or embryo adoption? Practice and policy in the New Zealand context. International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family, 31(1), 1-19.

Goedeke, S., & Payne, D. (2009). Embryo donation in New Zealand: A pilot study. Human Reproduction, 24(8), 1939-1945.

Goedeke, S., & Payne, D. (2010). A qualitative study of New Zealand fertility counsellors’ views and practices regarding embryo donation. Human Reproduction, 25(11), 2821-2828.

Kawwass, J. F., Crawford, S., Hipp, H. S., Boulet, S. L., Kissin, D. M., & Jamieson, D. J. (2016). Embryo donation: National trends and outcomes, 2000 through 2013. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, 215(6), 747.e741-747.e745.

MacCallum, F. (2009). Embryo donation parents’ attitudes towards donors: Comparison with adoption. Human Reproduction, 24(3), 517-523.

MacCallum, F., & Golombok, S. (2007). Embryo donation families: Mothers’ decisions regarding disclosure of donor conception. Human Reproduction, 22(11), 2888-2895.

MacCallum, F., Golombok, S., & Brinsden, P. (2007). Parenting and child development in families with a child conceived through embryo donation. Journal of Family Psychology, 21(2), 278-287.

MacCallum, F., & Keeley, S. (2008). Embryo donation families: A follow-up in middle childhood. Journal of Family Psychology, 22(6), 799-808.

MacCallum, F., & Keeley, S. (2012). Disclosure patterns of embryo donation mothers compared with adoption and IVF. Reproductive BioMedicine Online, 24(7), 745-748.

Machin, L. (2011). A hierarchy of needs? Embryo donation, in vitro fertilisation and the provision of infertility counselling. Patient Education and Counseling, 85(2), 264-268.

Paul, M. S., Berger, R., Blyth, E., & Frith, L. (2010). Relinquishing frozen embryos for conception by infertile couples. Families, Systems & Health, 28(3), 258-273.

Sauer, M. V. (Ed.). (2013). Principles of oocyte and embryo donation (2nd ed.). London: Springer.

Wånggren, K., Baban, M., & Svanberg, A. S. (2014). Attitudes toward embryo donation among staff at in vitro fertilization clinics. Acta Obstetricia et Gynecologica Scandinavica, 93(8), 765-770.