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IVF, invitro fertilization, is a procedure that has been steadily on the rise since the first "test tube baby" was born over three decades ago. It is hard to find anyone in the developed world who does not know what IVF entails the harvesting of an egg from a female body, and its fertilization with a sperm in a lab setting. During IVF, as many eggs as possible are harvested and the goal is to create as many viable embryos as possible, to increase the chances of success. Often, embryos are "left over". As a result of the existence these "surplus embryos, a new concept evolved. What is embryo adoption?

Simply said, a process in which one family adopts another's left-over embryos. What does the Catholic Church have to say about embryo adoption? In order to understand the Catholic Church's stance on embryo adoption, we'll first take a look at its general opinion about IVF itself. Anyone who understands the Catholic Church's teaching about the creation of life can guess its opinion about IVF. Catholic Insight declares: "The Catholic Church condemns as gravely evil acts, both IVF in and of itself, and stem cell research performed on IVF embryos." Presumably, this stance is derived from several facts. IVF in one sense give humans the opportunity to "play God" and take the role of creation upon itself. Furthermore, IVF is often closely related to practices the Catholic faith would certainly condemn selective reduction of one fetus or several (nothing different to abortion, in essence), discarding of embryos, and research performed on left-over embryos.

Does that mean that the Catholic Church is also opposed to embryo adoption? The answer to this question is unclear. Some Catholics say that the Church has not ruled out the adoption of already existing embryos. Indeed, it seems as if adopting an embryo that was created through IVF is the humane thing to do in this process, one gives the embryo a chance at life. There are Christian-based embryo adoption agencies in existence. "Snow Flakes" is one such agency. But other Catholics say that adopting IVF embryos indirectly endorses IVF, and encourages the practice to continue. Those of the Catholic faith who are exploring embryo adoption as an option, and are not sure about the ethical implications, should probably research the Vatican's prior statements about IVF, and talk with their priests.

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