Did you know that over 500,000 babies live in freezers across the United States? Yes, that’s right, freezers. They’re embryos that have been cryo-preserved after a round of in-vitro fertilization (IVF). Many of these embryos belong to couples who are still trying to get pregnant and intend to use them in future attempts at pregnancy, but others belong to couples who have completed their family. Some of those who have completed their families are looking for couples to carry their children and raise them as their own.
Because of our male factor infertility and poor egg quality, our attempt at pregnancy through IVF failed. We could try again, but that’s not what we want to do. We’ve decided to move forward with adoption, but not in a way most would think. We want to adopt embryos. We want to break our future babies free of the freezer they are currently living in and bring them home to be with us. This may seem controversial, so here are our reasons why:
1. It’s a calling
I feel that I must start with this reason first because my other reasons may seem trivial. But, if I lay the foundation here, you may see that there are a lot of factors involved in adoption.
With IVF comes risks of creating embryos. You may be thinking, “Hey, isn’t that the goal? So why would you call it a risk?” The creation of embryos is a risk because you may create more than you can use. I’ve seen where some women have upwards of 10 embryos. Most of us going through IVF accept this risk and come up with a plan for the embryos we will not be able to bring into our family. As a Christian it was TERRIFYING to think of all the possibilities: have 10 kids (eek!), destroy them (no way!), or donate them to another couple.
We knew that we couldn’t afford 10 kids, but destroying the embryos was not an option for us. That left us with embryo donation, which was still scary. How can you give your future babies away to another family? What if they don’t raise them the way you want them to be raised? That’s when I first began feeling the call to adopt another families embryos if our IVF cycle didn’t work.
I KNOW that I can provide the kind of home almost any parent would want for the children. I’d especially love to adopt from a Christian family so I can relieve the fear of their children growing up in a home that doesn’t know or love Jesus. This is the number one reason why we want to adopt another families embryos, so we can raise their children and help them relinquish worry and fear.
2. Life starts at conception
As a Christian I believe that life starts at conception. When a sperm fertilizes an egg an embryo is created, and that embryo equals life in my eyes. While these embryos can be stored indefinitely in a freezer, they deserve a chance at life just like any other child. I recently read of a woman who gave birth to twins that were created and frozen 17 years ago! Technically those babies are 18 years old at birth! Doesn’t that just give you chills? These babies wouldn’t have had a shot without her willingness to bring them fully into this world.
There are no guarantees with traditional adoption. The birth mother can change her mind at any time up until 72 hours after birth. That’s a long time to sit and hold your breath and hope that the birth mom doesn’t change her mind. With embryo adoption you are the parents before they are born. You can enjoy the pregnancy without worrying if the genetic parents will take the baby at the end. Many couples go through failed adoptions and heartbreak, and it’s something I can’t imagine doing at this time.
One of the most wonderful benefits of embryo adoption is you still have the potential to have a pregnancy. The child inside of you may not share your genetic material, but you get to bring life to him or her. You get to experience the joy (and awfulness) of pregnancy which is something many women want.
Beyond just getting to experience pregnancy you get to ensure that your baby has a healthy experience in the womb. With traditional adoption the birth mother can drink, smoke, take drugs, etc, all of which can have long-lasting effects on your baby. I like the idea of being able to control the environment my future babies will be in.
And how awesome is it that you get to go to every appointment, hear the baby’s heartbeat, see him or her on the ultrasound, participate in “normal” pregnancy related things (baby showers, birthing classes)?! Plus you get to experience the miracle of child birth.
This in and of itself may not be a reason to choose embryo adoption, but it’s important to me.
Possibly the most trivial of all of these reasons is cost. Traditional adoption is very expensive. You can go through the foster care system and adopt an older child for much less, but that is not a calling everyone has. Traditional adoption can cost upwards of $20,000 dollars on the low end. And that is just for one child. Embryo adoption can be done for just over $1000 but usually not more than $10,000. With embryo adoption you can receive one embryo, or ten. If you receive more than one embryo you even have the potential that your children will be genetically related siblings. That’s pretty awesome.
I hope you continue to follow our journey as we document picking an agency, matching with a couple, embryo transfers, and hopefully a pregnancy. This is an exciting time as we move forward with hope that God will direct our paths to the children we are supposed to have.