One of the most exciting parts in the embryo adoption process was selecting our embryos. We chose to do an anonymous adoption and after our May consultation with Dr. Keenan; we were told we would receive profiles near the end of July after the July transfer cycle was completed. I had spent that last two years praying for God’s will for our lives and for guidance for our future family. Once we started the adoption process I was praying for our “popsicle” babies that my mom lovingly called her “grandsicles”. We didn’t know where they would come from or anything about their biological families at this point, but I knew that God knew and He would keep them safe and prepare our hearts for them.
On July 31, 2009, at 4:30 in the afternoon, I received an e-fax from the now familiar area code and my heart leaped because I knew what it was. Contained in that fax were 40 donor profiles and I couldn’t wait to get home to print them out. The profiles contained basic physical information about the genetic parents as well as education, career, ethnicity, and national origin. I had no idea we would have so many to pick from and felt overwhelmed at the responsibility that was before us. How do you pick one and dismiss another?
That night we looked through the profiles just to get an idea of what we were looking at and discussed some of the things we did or didn’t like about the profiles. Of the 40, there were 4 that were labeled “special consideration embryos.” This was due to some known medical issue with either the biological parents or siblings. We prayerfully began our selection process, picking profiles with similar physical characteristics to our own. One of the special consideration profiles had biological parents with characteristics very similar to Jeremy and me. I researched the issue listed and realized it wasn’t that big of a deal so we put them back in the stack and continued to narrow our list. The next day we had narrowed the field of 40 to 8 profiles. This included a favorite we called “the giants” because the biological parents were extremely tall. We left for church that Saturday with the profiles laid out across our coffee table and said we needed to pray some more.
At the end of our worship service we were singing the song “Overcome” and I was overwhelmed with emotion. Very clearly I saw a profile and knew God was placing this one on my heart. God was telling me that no matter what, with Him, we would overcome. I knew which babies were to be ours! We walked out of service and as we moved across the parking lot, I looked at Jeremy and said I knew which ones we were supposed to pick. He looked at me and said “the ones with the heart.” He also knew. See, the “special consideration” profile, which wasn’t at the top of our short list, were listed as such because of siblings born with history of Ventricular Septal Defect (VSD) otherwise known as a hole in the heart. We came home and quickly put the other seven profiles away and started staring at the sheet of paper listing only basic physical characteristics, but to us, this represented our children. We soon received the full medical history and with no concerns, we confirmed we wanted these little guys. Within the next few days it was confirmed that profile #1200 with 13 embryos was now ours.
I recently had the pleasure of speaking via phone with Chris Barrett, New Media Coordinator at NEDC. One of the questions he asked me was how I felt about embryo adoption. I started to think about it in terms of would this be something my husband and I would have considered as an option for creating our family? I think I would have to answer yes. We did discuss traditional adoption, which my husband wasn’t that keen about. I told him I wanted a family, and that may be our only way of achieving our goal. He reluctantly agreed that would be a last resort.
I like the idea of adopting an embryo, because not only are there embryos waiting to be adopted, but you could select characteristics which closely resemble yourselves, the adopting couple. You also have the option of whether or not to share with others the fact that this isn’t your biological child. You experience first hand the wonders of pregnancy, the birth process and can even opt to breast feed if you so desire. These are all things which aren’t possible with traditional adoption.
We found the process of donating to be quite easy. The staff at NEDC were very helpful and knowledgeable. Each step of the way all of our questions and concerns were addressed accordingly. Once the forms were completed, we basically waited for someone to choose our donated embryos.
My husband and I opted for an open adoption, which basically allows for the adopting and donating families to have contact with each other. You are able to select to what degree this contact will be, which is also a plus. I felt this was important for both families for the simple reason that health issues could arise at any point in time. I feel both parties have a responsibility to make the other aware by sharing this information. I personally felt strongly about this, because my oldest son was born with a dairy allergy. At the time of our making the donation, he had just been found to have outgrown it. I think it is important to keep some form of contact between the two couples for updates on health issues, as well as for other reasons.
I’m hoping that more couples turn to embryo adoption if this is right for them. I am pleased that NEDC is working to get the word out about it.
As I blogged earlier, we really didn’t know anyone who was dealing with infertility issues, at least not openly, which made it hard for us to find resources. At the time, I was working in a library, and spent a lot of time searching the database for reading material to educate us and find inspiration. This was in the early part of the 1990’s, which I know is only roughly 20 years ago, but the material in print, especially the stories of real life couples, sometimes seemed outdated. It would be from the mid 1980’s, but advances were being made so quickly, that the previous treatments now seemed outdated.
I can remember reading of a couple traveling to Norfolk, VA for their treatments. They would spend approximately 2 months per cycle there, and the story went in great detail of their treatment, but more importantly for me, how they felt, what they were thinking and how they coped. This couple had a happy ending of twins.
I felt overwhelmed enough with the whole infertility issue, and didn’t really spend a lot of time searching for information on the internet. I’ve always been a bit of a bookworm, and still prefer getting my information in print, on actual paper that is. Ask my husband about this; he purchased a Kindle for me as a Christmas gift, and he is using it. I have yet to read anything on it.