Saturday, May 7, 2016

Embryo Adoption :: God's Plan for Our Family

The day we were diagnosed with infertility was such a dark day for us. In an instant, our dreams of becoming parents to genetic children vanished. We couldn't understand why the Lord wouldn't allow us to have genetic children, and we felt so overwhelmed with that loss. But the Lord brought peace in the midst of the devastating news, and we have seen His grace pour out. While the initial shock of our lack of treatment options was difficult to process, we can look back now and see God's hand of protection in that diagnosis. While we were frustrated that He skipped all other options, we see now how He was protecting us from a possibly more heartbreaking process, but more importantly preparing us for the family He had always intended for us. Walking through infertility has been a difficult and trying season, but the Lord has been carefully and tenderly crafting our story. We wouldn't have chosen this road, but we also wouldn't change any part of it.

When we received our infertility diagnosis, the doctors gave us one option: IVF with ICSI. For those unfamiliar with it {we were, until we faced infertility}, it is in-vitro fertilization with intracytoplasmic sperm injection, where the sperm is injected directly into the egg, and then a resulting embryo is placed into the uterus in hopes of implantation and a pregnancy. We really had to seek the Lord in determining whether or not it was a viable option for us. There were health concerns with the intensity of hormone therapy required, and there were financial concerns as well, because we wanted to be good stewards of God's money {this treatment option is not inexpensive}.

Even before this was our only option, I had struggled with the ethical and spiritual concerns involved with IVF {number of embryos created/transferred/leftover, selective reduction, etc}. After a lot of prayer and research, we determined that with strict/specific guidelines, we could move forward with IVF with ICSI in a God-honoring, life-preserving way. But despite coming to a comfortable resolution with the IVF process, we really felt that this was not the plan God had for us in building our family.

Early in my research of assisted reproductive technologies {ART}, I had come across something called embryo adoption. Many couples who walk through IVF have embryos that were not transferred. Couples often freeze the embryos for a later IVF cycle {for additional transfers and/or siblings}, but sometimes there are still some remaining. Whether there are medical concerns or couples are simply done building their family, they must then decide what to do with these remaining embryos. They can keep them frozen indefinitely, donate the embryos to science, destroy them, or donate them to another couple. This last option is what really got us excited; what an incredible gift to bless another couple who was also walking the road of infertility!

So for embryo adoption, instead of adopting an infant or older child from their birth parents, you adopt an embryo and you become the birth parents. How incredible is that? It was an option that would allow us to not only experience pregnancy, but also provide an opportunity for life to tiny embryos. As followers of Jesus, we are both staunchly pro-life. We believe that even in this earliest stage of development, an embryo is a unique life, a person, created by God. These embryos are children, vulnerable and in need of a home, and we felt the Lord leading us to pursue this option.

There are many different ways to walk through embryo adoption {anonymous/open/semi-open, clinic/private/agency}. For a number of different reasons, we chose to do an open adoption with the help of an agency. We chose the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program through Nightlight Christian Adoptions, and we are grateful for our relationship with them. In each step of the process, we felt the Lord confirming our decision to pursue embryo adoption, and He was faithful to provide everything we needed at every step.

We knew this was something that the Lord wanted us to pursue, but it was not without its own set of heartaches and struggles. It was not a quick fix or the "perfect" answer, as we experienced such an emotional roller coaster and a pain/loss that we didn't think was possible. I shared last Fall about losing babies; at the time I was vague and didn't mention the fact that we had lost 6 of our precious babies, or that we had to start the embryo adoption process over again. And yet the Lord didn't forget us; He faithfully walked with us every step of the way, providing comfort, grace, and hope.

I will try to provide more details about the process in the future, but for now, we are just so thankful for all that the Lord has done. Of course, I will forever be thankful for embryo adoption because through it, the Lord has allowed me to experience pregnancy and become a mother. And there will never be enough words of gratitude to express to the donor families for the gifts they provided to us by making the decision to donate their embryos and entrust us with their care. 

It is incredible to me how the Lord was preparing our family, even way back in 2007 {when our first embryos were frozen}, and then again in 2009 {when our second set of embryos was frozen}. How He was walking with our sweet donor families as they experienced the struggles of infertility. How He led me and Mike to each other, walked with us in our road of infertility, and led us to embryo adoption and to each of our donor families. He allowed us to skip all other options so that we would discover and then choose this unique path to growing our family. I believe this is part of the reason we had to walk the road of infertility; because God always intended us to be the parents of these precious little ones {all 10!} How great is our God.

No comments:

Post a Comment