Friday, June 3, 2016

Embryo Adoption :: Q&A

We have had such a sweet outpouring of love and support after making our public announcement about our pregnancy. One of the really fun parts has been sharing our Embryo Adoption story. I have had numerous people show interest in Embryo Adoption, mostly because they had never heard of it as an option before. And neither had we before the Lord started writing our story!

We have had a lot of questions come up, and we LOVE answering them. But I thought it might be helpful to do a little Q&A on some of the most common questions we have been getting. I am certainly not an all-inclusive resource on the subject matter, but I have learned a lot in the last couple of years. And all I can do is share our story and how the Lord has begun to write our family story, right?

How long were your embryos frozen?
Our first set of embryos were frozen for 8 years before we thawed and transferred them. This second set of embryos {where our current twins are from} were frozen for 7 years before they were thawed and transferred, and we still have 2 embryos that are frozen. The length of time they were frozen was less of an indicator of success; it was more of the freezing technique and embryo grade that can sometimes indicate success. Many embryos frozen a lot longer than 8 years are born healthy babies!

Why did you choose an agency? Which agency did you choose, and why?
We didn't really know what we were doing in the process and the whole Embryo Adoption world was brand new to us. So we knew we would need some help. We wanted the expertise of an agency to help walk alongside us as we navigated the Embryo Adoption world. In addition, we knew we wanted an open adoption, which is often times more common when you go through an agency than when you go through a clinic program. We also knew that we would need some education on the subject matter, which is also more common with an agency. In the end, we chose the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption program with Nightlight Christian Adoptions, because they were the ones that pioneered this type of adoption, and a lot of their policies support a high view of life. When we sent in our inquiry, we clicked with them right away, and they were so helpful. 

Why are they called snowflake babies?
Snowflakes are frozen, unique, and a gift from heaven...and so are snowflake babies! It's an affectionate term that was coined for the frozen babies who waited for their chance at life.

Do you know anything about the genetic family?
We do! Because we have a semi-open relationship with our genetic donor family, we actually know quite a bit. We have family profiles, medical history, and even some photos. As of now, all of our communication goes through our agency, but we have had several points of contact with them. We love this arrangement, because we love the opportunity to ask more questions and have access to them when our kids get older and want to know more about their origins.

How will you tell your kids about their origins?
Great question! :) We received a lot of training on this matter, but there is still a lot of unknowns. We have the right tools to provide answers at age-appropriate levels, but we really won't know exactly what we will say until they are here and asking questions. We do know that we want our kids to know their story from an early age, {we want no surprises for them} but we also know that Embryo Adoption will only be a part of their story. Just like any new parent, we will have to navigate these waters at the appropriate time and with the Lord's guidance.

Does the genetic family have any legal rights to the children?
No, they do not. As part of the Embryo Adoption process, we sign contracts where the genetic family relinquishes their rights to the embryos. In the eyes of the law, embryos are not considered people, but property, so we actually sign a transfer of property contract. Our contracts have adoption-specific language, and the genetic family released their rights to any resulting children. And in the state of Texas, the mother who births the child {and her partner} are considered the legal parents.

What is the difference between Embryo Adoption and Embryo Donation?
In many circles, they are the same thing. They are really interchangeable terms. However, there is often a distinction made between the terms based on how the process takes place, but it's not a hard/fast rule. Embryo Adoption is typically {but not always} open or semi-open and done through an agency {which often means a home study}. Embryo Donation is typically {but not always} anonymous and done through a clinic {which often means a psychological exam}. Private matches can happen as well, though there are still legal steps required. I see these terms as interchangeable because our genetic/donor family donated to us, the "adopting" family.

Is it really an adoption though?
Legally, no. Right now, adoption law in the U.S. only applies to the placement of a child after he/she is born. The placement of embryos into an "adopting" family is governed by property law. Even though adoption law doesn't apply to Embryo Donation/Adoption, agencies apply the best practices of the adoption process because the end result is the birth of a child. In some states, the adoption of embryo children can be finalized in the courts {though it is not required}. 

We personally still view it as an adoption, because we went through the same process as a traditional adoption. The paperwork, the background checks, the education, the home study, the matching process, the waiting...all part of an adoption. And to adopt is to take a child of other parents legally as your own. I have also heard it put this way: adoption is building a family through the process of concentrated, dedicated, enduring love, rather than biology. Which is exactly what we committed to and how we feel.

Are there any special risks to pregnancy with donated embryos?
Once you achieve a pregnancy through donated embryos, your pregnancy carries the same risks as any other. So there are no increased risks. Any risks that may present themselves are really more risks to the embryos themselves, whether that be in the thawing process or during transfer.

What made you choose Embryo Adoption instead of a domestic or international adoption?
This was a decision that was completely led by the Lord. We were open to adoption in general, but this unique form of adoption intrigued us both. Pragmatically, it allowed us to experience pregnancy, it was a less expensive option, and we believe in life at conception. We view it as adopting children at an earlier stage, so to us it's really no different than a traditional adoption.

There was a part of my heart that was struggling with closing the door on pregnancy. We knew we were closing the door to our own genetic family {no IVF treatments}, but embryo adoption gave me the hope of experiencing pregnancy. I wrestled with whether or not it was ok to adopt embryos when there are countless children already born and waiting for families. I wrestled with whether I could pursue this type of pregnancy and still honor the Lord's plan for our family. I had to come to a point where I was fully surrendered to whatever His plan was...even if that meant letting go of my dreams of pregnancy. It wasn't an easy decision, for sure. We spent a lot of time in prayer and seeking counsel. I was ready to submit to Mike, as he led us in making this decision for our family. And to be honest, I thought he was going to say we needed to pursue traditional adoption. So when he came back and said he thought we should move forward with Embryo Adoption, I was so surprised! As we moved forward, the Lord was faithful to lead us in every step of the way, constantly confirming this road as our journey to building our family.

Are you worried about sharing too much of your children's story publicly?
I wrestle with this all the time. But isn't this a struggle of all parents in the digital, social media age? I have several friends who have adopted {in some form or another}, who have made the decision that the story is not theirs {but their child's} to share. And I wholeheartedly agree and support that. I wrestle with this issue every time I post something about our Embryo Adoption journey. It's part of the reason we kept the details of our journey so close for so long. And at some point, I may reduce the amount of information we share. I have contemplated making this blog private. I still have my worries of whether or not we have made the right decision. But for now, I have decided that it's something I will have to constantly keep before the Lord and remain committed to walking in wisdom. I am so thankful for others who have been open with their story, because it allowed us to discover, learn, and grow as we pursued Embryo Adoption. I want others to know about this amazing option. But ultimately, {for now} I have decided that it's not my story, and not even my children's story, but God's story. He has guided us every step of the way, and our desire is to make His incredible work known. I love getting to say, "let me share with you what the Lord has done!"


Have other questions about Embryo Adoption? This website is a fantastic resource!

No comments:

Post a Comment