Last year my husband and I finally found out WHY we can’t have children (after 8 years of infertility). Having unexplained infertility is infuriating… talk about total loss of control. It turns out that I have balanced translocation. Basically not all of my eggs work properly. (My little ginger eggs are as stubborn as I am apparently) So we opted to try embryo adoption. I had been told that I have a beautiful uterus (umm… thanks?), so why not try this option. For us, embryo adoption was lower cost than domestic adoption. We are looking at adopting another infant, so this seemed to be the best option for us. Potentially quicker and potentially less expensive.
So lets start from the top:
Infertility rates in the United States are around 11%; that means 1 in 9 of your friends have experienced or are experiencing infertility. Of these infertile families, just 3% go on to perform procedures like InVitro Fertilization (IVF) to get pregnant. The current statistics for success rates are only 47% pregnancy rate for women under 35. So generally families require several tries to get pregnant. (http://www.resolve.org/about/
Once a family gets pregnant and has as many children as they want, they have options on what to do with their remaining embryos. There are generally 3 options: Destroy the embryos, donate them to science, or donate them to a family in need. That being said, there are still over 600,000 embryos in storage in the United States right now.
Say a family wants to adopt out their remaining embryos. They have several options including leaving their embryos in storage for a price. They could find a family on their own to donate their embryos too. This would be considered a private donation. I’m still learning a lot about private embryo donation, so I won’t go into that here. Families that don’t opt to go the private route could opt to place their embryos with the NEDC (National embryo Donation Center) or they could contact Nightlight Snowflakes program. So with both agency programs, you basically enter into an online embryo dating site. Both families with embryos and families looking for embryos have to create a profile.
My experience lies with Nightlights snowflake program so I’ll go into what we did there:
Once our profile was in, the agency had a team who reviewed both our profile and embryo donor profiles. They would try to play matchmaker and match us up with the most compatible family. Honestly, they did an amazing job! I loved the family they matched us with. We had a ton in common and agreed very much on the type of contact we would had once the embryos became little people. We had 5 high quality frozen embryos to work with, though they had been frozen over 10 years ago!
It took almost 3 months from the time of matching to the time of transfer. This was because the biological family needed to get extra testing for National and Colorado Laws. My husband also had to get some testing done (even though his parts weren’t involved in any part of the process). We also had to ship the embryos to Colorado from Maryland. Originally we had planned to travel to to the east coast for the transfer, but the clinic in there wouldn’t allow embryo adoption procedures in their clinic. Our best guess was because the success rate for embryo adoption pregnancy rate success is just under 40% – thus it could decrease their overall success rates.
I figured the universe matched me with an amazing family for a reason – so I did my very best to be as positive as possible about the transfers. The exciting part is, I was pregnant… TWICE! The less exciting part is, both pregnancies ended within days of finding out.
I belong to a private group on facebook with hundreds of families succeeding in getting pregnant and giving birth to children from this process. It’s motivating to see how many have succeeded. I’d love to see some statistics on how many transfers it takes to get pregnant with embryo adoption. This takes some serious science. Transferring living embryos (THAT WERE FROZEN!) into a person who has nothing more than a super comfy uterus to settle into for the next nine months. These little beings that do not have the same DNA as you – nor will they ever (despite wishful thinking). There are more challenges than successes with embryo adoption. If you have emotions of steel (which after going through the amount of infertility it takes to get to this point, you likely have emotions of steel) I say go ahead and give it a shot. The families that have been made through embryo adoption are inspirational. I’m not quite sure I’m ready to jump into the procedure again, but I expect the universe to open a door for me one way or another.