I recently wrote about a friend of mine who had decided to pursue embryo adoption with the specific intent of adopting Grant and Maria’s remaining siblings. Their application was accepted and they had an initial appointment scheduled for April. Because they currently have two foster children and a home study approved by the state, we thought the process would go smoothly. We were wrong. Last week we found out that they are not going to be allowed to proceed because of the number of children they have. They have 4 biological children, 1 foster son whom they’ve had in their home for over a year and just accepted his newborn brother into their home right before Christmas. They have a heart for children and hope to adopt their foster sons. However, I learned they had to have an exception made by the state to take the newest baby because they state limits the number of children when it comes to foster placements. This has equated to their home study not being approved to proceed with embryo adoption. To say we are disappointed is an understatement. I definitely don’t agree with the decision, but will have to accept the reality of it. I will trust that there is a plan for Grant and Maria’s genetic siblings and that there is a family willing to adopt them sooner than later. They’ve been on ice for over 10 years now! It’s time for them to break out and realize their potential. Who could deny these sweet faces?
*He loves to be outside. If he hears the doors open he will come running (stumbling) down the hall saying “si si”. We think he is trying to say outside.
*His favorite book is ‘Goodnight Moon’. He’ll bring it to you to read then when you try to read a different book, he’ll let you get about halfway through, push it aside, and hand you ‘Goodnight Moon.’
*He loves his bath and prefers the water to stay running. He likes to stick his head under the faucet and drink the water. His two favorite bath time toys are a rubber ducky and a plastic starfish.
*He likes to get attention, even if it’s negative attention. Sometimes when you tell him, “NO”, he will look at you and smile, then repeat the activity, because he knows he’s getting a reaction out of you.
*He will sometimes “belly-up” to the kitchen table, where I keep the diaper bag, and suck on his pacifier, even though it is still attached to the diaper bag.
*He is obsessed with toilet paper and any other bathroom paraphernalia: The metal container which holds the toilet scrubber, the tissue holder, and the toilet bowl flusher. I get very afraid when I see I have forgotten to close the bathroom door.
*He loves stuffed animals and anything soft. He will sometimes pull his favorite blanket on the floor and roll around in it. He loves to sleep with his favorite stuffed animals- bun bun and lamb lamb.
*He loves to hold your hands while you’re rocking him. He will rub your arms and fingers, and hold onto your hands while stroking them.
*He has about a three to four letter vocabulary. Dada, hi, and bye. He will occasionally say Mama. He used to babble Mama until he discovered saying Dada. It’s been all about Dada ever since.
As I mentioned in my last post, we are now pregnant through IVF. My sis-in-law also ended up doing IVF, too (same clinic, same dr.)!
When we started our cycles, we were a month behind. Due to different protocols, we ended up having our transfers just 5 days apart.
She is now 12 weeks pregnant with twins! She has 5 frozen embryos remaining.
And she’s going to do embryo adoption – through NEDC (!)
When I asked her about her selfless act, this is what she wrote:
Honestly, I haven’t really thought about it that much. It was never really a decision that we needed to think about or talk about, it’s just the only option that was even on the table for us. A no-brainer. We’re not going to keep them frozen forever, and we’re definitely not going to destroy them. It sounds weird to say we’re not going to “need” them after the twins are born… all life is “needed”. But the truth is, our family will be complete. Our five embryos deserve a chance at life regardless of our decision not to have more children. Travis and I were just talking last night about how they aren’t ours anyway, and they never were. We’re all children of God’s and He alone creates life. He created life for those five babies and He has a plan for them. It’s our responsibly to foster those little lives, whether that’s in our family or someone else’s. NEDC brought my niece into our family, and I trust them to place our five with an equally loving family.
I told our donor about my sis-in-law’s choice and she was so impressed at how quickly she came to the decision. Our donors waited 10 years after the birth of their children before starting the embryo adoption process. I think everyone just has their own journey through a process like this.
My sis-in-law has started the paperwork with NEDC, but probably won’t ship the embryos until after the twins arrive. She wants to do an open adoption, but with minimal interaction. She wants to be there for the family if they have questions, but otherwise doesn’t want regular updates.
I am so proud of my sis and bro-in-law for making this very sacrificial gift to a family that may otherwise not get the chance to experience pregnancy.
Last week we went to the dentist for Grant and Maria’s first time. I had intended on taking them last year since I paid for family dental coverage, but the year got away from us. When I told them about it earlier in the week, Maria frowned and said she wanted to keep her teeth. Grant said he wanted big teeth like me. We had several days of reassurance that the dental visit was going to be okay. Maria seemed comforted by the fact that the dentist was a girl like her and that she could sit on my lap.
Dental day came and Maria earned a spot going first. The hygienist, who spoke in rhyme, was great as she let Maria sit on my lap and showed her all the tools she would use and even cleaned her baby doll’s teeth. She was fine until it came to actually laying back. That’s when she started to cry. She continued to cry until it was all done. Grant watched on and got more and more skeptical as time went on. The hygienist thanked me for not reacting to Maria’s crying and said that they expect three year olds to cry. There was no kicking, biting, or spitting, so she considered it a good exam.
When it came time for Grant’s turn, he objected and said he didn’t want to do it. We had him straddling me and went to lay him back into the hygienists lap when he suctioned himself to me. After a few minutes of coaxing he agreed to lie in the chair while I held his hands. He cried until she used the spit sucker on him at which time his cry broke into a giggle.
The verdict on both was no cavities, but both, especially Grant, have very “tight” teeth, meaning they are very close together and will have limited space for adult teeth. Grant’s mouth is narrow and Maria has an overbite. Thankfully, they said her overbite was not due her extended pacifier use…it’s just how she was made. We have a bright future with orthodontics.
At the end of the visit I had to set the timer so they could play with the train set in the waiting room before they would agree to leave. I’ll call it a success.
Josh and I took John Luke to see his cousins in Gatlinburg this weekend. They were visiting on a mini-vacay from Alabama to ski. John Luke got to play in the snow at the Cubbie Zone- an area designated for children three and under. Josh did “daddy-duty” while I got to ski with my sister-n-law, nieces, and nephews.
Josh is out of town most weekends during duck season, so he let me go play for the day. It was John Luke’s first time playing in the snow. Last winter, he was too little and too fragile, to play outside. This winter we’ve only had snow flurries, not enough to stick. It turned out to be a beautiful day on the slopes with fresh snow.
This is our third year meeting up with our family to ski. I hope we can make it an annual visit. It’s fun to meet at a destination place and create memories together. Especially as John Luke grows up, I hope for him to have memories doing different things with his cousins as I did as a child.
Skiing is something I need to do at least once a year to keep it up. I always have to do some practice turns before getting on the lift. I try to avoid staying in “pie position” all the way down the hill, but I usually get into a rhythm after a few runs.
It was fun riding the slopes with my sis-n-law, nieces and nephew. I can’t wait until John Luke is right there with us. My nieces and nephews started learning when they were 3 with a harness, so it won’t be long. Right now, I’ll enjoy him playing safely in the Cubbie Zone.
Families who consider navigating the embryo adoption waters have a number of options to help them get started. Organizations such as medical clinics, adoption agencies and social service agencies that serve families through the embryo donation/adoption process offer a varying range of services. Some agencies might provide only one service, such as completing the family assessment (home study) for the recipient, while others provide more comprehensive services, like donor-recipient matching, medical transfer and counseling.
A medical clinic may only receive the embryos to their clinic to thaw and do the physical transfer of the embryo while other facilities provide more comprehensive services. Some not only receive embryos, but also provide “housing” for them until the family makes a decision on where or to whom to donate them. Additionally, this type of clinic may receive applications from families desiring to receive the embryos, and coordinate the connection of the embryo donors with a recipient family. These medically based clinics also prepare the recipient mother’s body for and complete the physical transfer of the embryos.
Some organizations serving embryo donor and recipient families, ask the recipient families to review donor families profiles to determine from whom they would like to receive embryos. If it is an open relationship where there is a level of contact, the donor family is then offered the option of approving or denying the donation. Additionally, in some cases of a confidential (anonymous) relationship, the donor may still want the opportunity to be involved in the choice of the recipient family.
Other organizations reverse the process and have the donor family initially review the recipient families’ profiles and select which family they would like to adopt their embryos. Following this, the chosen recipient family reviews the donor family’s information and either agrees or declines the donation decision. This process mirrors the typical traditional domestic adoption placement where the birth family has the option to select a family with whom to place their child.
Another factor that may influence a family’s choice for an embryo donation/adoption organization may be the agency’s location and its accessibility to the family. If it is located near the family’s home that may be an easier choice than one that would involve travel. Families may have a particular organization that they prefer to work with because of its specific processes and procedures. Another factor that families may consider as they select an embryo service provider is the organization’s success rates for embryo donation/adoption, but whatever their choice, they should choose the one that best fits their family’s needs.
I’ve written and re-written this post several times in my head the last few weeks. It’s an exciting announcement, but because I’ve been the recipient of several of these announcements before, it’s bittersweet. Because, I know the pain of hearing this announcement when you so desperately want the announcement to be yours, and it’s not.
We are pregnant. We are 12 weeks along.
This fall, we decided to give IVF one last shot before completely committing to the foster adoption process. We had done IVF several years ago, and it was a complete failure, all around. This time, we chose a different clinic, and got the “best” doctor.
And, it worked.
It wasn’t, however, without a ton of prayer, agony, and sheer miracles.
After going through months of testing (which all looked relatively normal), we ended up on Day 5 with only one surviving embryo. And it was a day behind.
Through my tears, the senior embryologist ended up transferring two embryos – one more that may have been still growing – although it didn’t look that great, and was also a day behind.
A few days after the transfer, I ran across a pregnancy test in my drawer that was about to expire. I took the test. It was positive.
Several days later, we got the beta. It was 92.
Four days later, it hadn’t doubled in the preferred 48 hours. It doubled in about 66 hours. Still within “normal,” but not reassuring.
Two days later, it had more than doubled.
The first heartbeat at 6 weeks, 3 days was just 119. Again, within “normal,” but not super reassuring.
At 9 weeks, it was 175. But it wasn’t moving.
At 11 weeks, it was 165, and he/she was dancing.
Today, at 12 weeks, 1 day, he/she was jumping.
It is surreal to me that we are having a 100% genetic child. But all it really is is a satisfaction of a curiosity for me. This child is no more a child of mine than Brae and Sienna.
I love, and am grateful, that at the end of the day, our three children will not share a gene among them, and yet still be all family.
About four months ago I started attending spin classes twice a week during my normal morning gym time. Having participated in only one other spin class in my life some six years ago, it was truly a wild hair. I could still very much recall the butt pain that carried into several days after that first class, but I have been through a lot since then and figured it was worth a shot. I’m now an addict – a faithful regular on Mondays and Fridays at 5:55 a.m. – even when the wind chill is 20 below and even the day after Thanksgiving.
In class on Monday, I was suffering up a “hill” when I reminded myself that I labored without drugs for a day with the inability pee or poop due to a Grant blocking all my exits. I can surely survive three minutes up this hill. Later in class we were doing speed drills and even though my lungs and quads were aching, I hit a new high RPM. I kept telling myself, it’s just one minute. Remember that labor without drugs? This is just one minute. Yes, I can survive a 45 minute spin class reminding myself of my labor experience.
Our instructor isn’t a yeller. In fact, he’s very calm. He says things like “We all hit walls. The difference is how we handle them. You can run from it. Or you can climb it. You choose to climb.” Think about that. Isn’t that true for everything? Whether it’s the fifth negative pregnancy test or the day long labor misdiagnosed as constipation. We all face challenges. It’s how we chose to handle them that separate us. We can forge ahead through the physical and emotional pain or we can quit. I don’t quit.
Recently, I had a conversation with a co-worker whose daughter was struggling with infertility. She explained that they were deciding to do egg donation. She then asked why we did not decide to do that and instead went with embryo adoption.
I explained to her that during our infertility journey, there was not much we did not consider. When you are working to grow your family, and running into roadblock after roadblock, you find you’re open to most anything.
We did consider egg donation. And sperm donation. We looked into each. And, after gasping at the exorbitant cost (particularly egg donation), that opened the conversation to whether we even would do it, if we could afford to.
I know several people who have chosen to grow their families with egg/sperm donation. I’ve heard all of their reasons for doing so, and most of those reasons made their way into the conversation with my husband, at that time. We explored all of those reasons – if one of is able to carry on genetics, should the other stand in the way? am I ok with an egg donation, so long as I’m still able to carry the child? are we more comfortable with a child who is at least partially genetically connected to us vs. not? etc.
Ultimately, we decided egg/sperm donation was not for us. The primary reason being that we just were not comfortable with having a child be only “part” genetically related to us. We either wanted a child that was 100% genetically related to both of us, or not at all.
I’ve been up and down the infertility road for too long to judge anyone who decides to grow their family in any way other than how they see best for their family. I’m sure I’ve been judged several times for our decision to adopt domestically, and then to do embryo adoption.
So I ended the conversation with my co-worker with best wishes for her daughter. I hugged her and told her I know how hard this road can be, and that however those of us struggling with infertility choose to grow our family, we really should all stick together.
1)You have mini-therapy sessions all day with anyone who will listen.
2) Going to the grocery store by yourself is a vacation.
3) You have the ability to hear a cough through closed doors in the middle of the night, a floor above you, while your husband snores next to you.
4) You’d rather have a 102 degree fever than watch one of your kids suffer with it.
5) Peeing with an audience is part of the daily routine.
6) You use baby wipes to clean up random spills and the dash of your car.
7) You have a secret candy stash because, frankly, you’re sick of sharing.
8) You’ve been washing the same load of laundry for four days because you forgot to dry it.
9) You realize you’ve been watching the Disney Channel alone, even though your kids have been in bed for over 30 minutes.
10) By the end of the day, brushing your teeth feels like a huge accomplishment.