Today's guest post comes from Shannon. An area that we here at Give1 had not even considered when we began fundraising and advocating for adoption was the area of embryonic adoption. It is an amazing avenue for families to consider and Shannon shares more about this below. You can check out her family website at www.roomformorekiddos.com.
I am excited to be invited to post here on Give1Save1! I want to share with you about a domestic adoption avenue that many people do not even know exists. Some have heard of it, but are not sure what it is, what the process looks like or if it is an option that might be right for them or someone they know. I would like to share with you about Embryo Adoption (EA) and if there is interest, I would love to be a guest poster again and share with you more of the process and our journey.
Today though, let’s start with the basics. What is Embryo Adoption/Donation?
Since the 1980's infertile couples have sought the guidance and direction from fertility specialists, called Reproductive Endocrinologists (REs). These REs along with the assistance of specialists called, Embryologists, use modern medical advances to extract eggs from a woman's body to begin a fertility option called Invitro-Fertilization (IVF). After the embryologist harvests the eggs, he/she introduces the man's sperm with the eggs under a microscope. If the sperm fertilizes an egg, then the embryologist incubates the new life. This stage of life is called the embryonic stage and for this post I will refer to these little lives as embryos.
The embryologist along with the RE decide choose some of the created embryos to be transferred to the mother's womb in a procedure called a "fresh IVF cycle". The mother will have undergone hormone treatments to prepare her body to accept these little lives. The other embryos, if seen as good quality to the medical professionals, are then frozen for the couple for later transfers called, Frozen Embryo Transfers (FETs). The couple pays the clinic a yearly storage fee to continue to save the frozen embryos for these later transfers.
So, back to our question, what is Embryo Adoption/Donation?
Some use Embryo Adoption and Embryo Donation interchangeably, though similar in many ways there is a bit of a difference. Embryo Adoption is when one of these families who has undergone IVF procedures and who has frozen embryos decides to search for another family to adopt their embryos they have frozen at a clinic. The family has chosen not to "thaw and discard or donate to science" as many RE clinic contracts read. Instead, the genetic family understands that these embryos are living human lives and as difficult as the thought of another family raising their genetic children, they trust God and they seek out a family in which to place their tiny embryos. The placing family usually wants to know that the family has undergone a home study, been approved by an accredited adoption agency, and is prepared to adopt their embryos. Some Embryo Adoptions are private arrangements through an attorney. The placing parents may want open, closed, or semi-open arrangements with the adopting family.
In Embryo Donation, the placing family places their embryos with a clinic and trusts the clinic or agency to find the best match based on the criteria they put into writing. Embryo Donation can also be made through private avenues, but usually one associates Embryo Donation where the placing family has given their embryos to a clinic to place. In most of these cases, the arrangement is a closed and occasionally a semi open adoption arrangement. There are several agencies, many clinics, and websites that work to match families together and one does not have to be infertile to adopt children as embryos.
I know, you have a lot of thoughts and questions running through your mind. I know Rhea and I did when we first started this journey. We have learned so much about a situation in our country we never knew existed. When we started the EA journey in 2009, there was a reported 500,000 frozen embryos in our country. Quite recently, as I held our precious Sarah, I received an email with the latest numbers. Sadly, the numbers continue to rise. At this time, there are now over 600,000 reported frozen embryos in our country.
Of that number, Rhea and I, through God's great blessing adopted 6 tiny embryos. One survived to be born from my womb. Her name is Sarah Faith. Her story is a beautiful story of God's amazing hand and love. We are in the process of adopting again through Embryo Adoption. Please join us on our adoption journey at our family website www.roomformorekiddos.com where you will also find helpful links to help you learn more about EA.