Guest Post: What is embryo adoption?

What Is Embryo Adoption?

When I found out that my friend Merritt was raising money for her embryo adoption, I had no idea what that even meant. But when I found out, I thought it sounded like such a great idea for everyone involved. I asked her to do this guest post with the original idea of helping her raise the money they will need for the first stage of the adoption, but they’ve met that goal! However, I still really want to a) answer the question “What is embryo adoption” for all of you who, like me, didn’t know, and b) put her story out there because they are not finished with the financial part of building their family! There are still many other steps for her and her husband, Todd, to take and I’d love for you to follow their story going forward so that you’ll have the chance to participate too, if you choose. Here’s Merritt!

~~~

Hi! My name is Merritt! When Jenny heard about our need to raise nearly $10,000 for our embryo adoption, she wanted to help! She offered her little piece of the blogosphere so I could share our story and ask for your assistance in spreading the word about our fundraiser.

But wait! {insert record-scratch-sound here} In just under a week we’ve surpassed our goal! Yes, that’s right, our adoption is funded! So, I’m not here to ask for your money, instead, I want to share the fascinating journey toward embryo adoption, which will—hopefully—grow our little family of two into something more.

First of all, you’re probably asking, what is embryo adoption anyway?

An embryo adoption is a legal transaction. A family chooses to donate their frozen embryos to an adoptive couple, the embryo(s) will be implanted in the wife’s uterus and she will have the opportunity to become pregnant. When the baby is born, he or she is legally the child of the adoptive couple.

Who would choose embryo adoption?

Embryo adoption can be a source of hope for couples who have been unable to conceive through natural means or who have had several failed infertility treatments.

Where do the embryos come from?

Embryos are not created for the purpose of adoption. Instead, they are available because couples who have struggled with infertility have pursued IVF (in vitro fertilization) treatments. The couple’s doctor will harvest and fertilize several embryos for their treatments. Oftentimes more eggs are harvested and fertilized than are needed for one IVF cycle. Those embryos are frozen until they are needed for subsequent treatments. Our agency, Nightlight, calls those little babies “Snowflakes®.” There are currently 600,000 embryos in frozen storage, but not all of them are available for adoption.

How does embryo adoption benefit the genetic parents?

When the couple is finished growing their family (or if they run out of funds or time to continue fertility treatments), they have four options for their remaining embryos:

  1. Thaw & discard (destroys the embryos)
  2. Donate to science (destroys the embryos)
  3. Do nothing (embryos remain frozen indefinitely, but the family continues to pay storage fees)
  4. Donate for adoption (saves lives and gives hope to a family)

Couples can chose to give their children the gift of life through adoption by a family like ours. We understand their decision is not an easy one; it’s truly a sacrificial choice to allow another family to give birth to and raise their genetic children.

Our Story

Although we married in our late 30s, it was still hard to imagine we’d have trouble conceiving. We’re both pretty healthy, but after a year and a half of dedicated “trying” a fertility specialist told us we had a miniscule chance of conceiving on our own.

I felt a great deal of pressure to pursue infertility treatments in an “everybody’s doing it” kind of way. But we knew we weren’t prepared for the costs (physical and financial) of IVF. We were just beginning to test how my body would respond to fertility drugs when I got pregnant in March 2012. However, a few weeks later we lost our baby. We were devastated. After our miscarriage I couldn’t imagine going back to the doctor for more pokes, prods, and tests that would put us back on that roller coaster.

By January 2013, I had begun seriously looking into adoption. That’s when we learned about embryo adoption. I’d really been struggling with the fact that I might never experience pregnancy, childbirth or have the chance to breastfeed our baby. Those things always seemed like a given to me, even when I was a young girl. In addition, my husband and I are believe life begins at conception, meaning all those little frozen Snowflakes are babies just waiting to be born. We believe God created each one of them individually, gave them a soul and a hope for their future. And we are grateful to have the opportunity to take part in giving them life and a loving family.

Although we investigated domestic adoption (adopting from a birthmother in the U.S.) and international adoption (adopting an orphan from overseas), embryo adoption is often more affordable and has a shorter wait time. Our hope is to be matched with a donor family by the end of the year.

If that donor family is interested in maintaining some sort of relationship with their genetic children once those babies are born into our family, we have already agreed that our kids can meet them and their siblings as long as it’s a healthy arrangement for everyone involved.

After so many painful years of waiting to be married and then trying to get, some days it’s hard to imagine we’ll ever have children running around our home. But we have faith that our prayers will be answered in one way or another.

If you’re a praying person, we’d love your prayers for us and our hoped-for-family. You can watch a few videos of us on our Pure Charity fundraising page. Details and progress of our adoption can be found on our blog, On Becoming Parents, or check out our newlywed blog to read our love story. If I can answer any questions about our experience, please feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @merritto.