Learning about Embryo Adoption

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/fast-facts-about-fertility.html)

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. 

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Living in Limbo

Here are the Cliffs notes of our journey to being a mom and dad. 

Ten years ago, we got married. Eight years ago we decided we wanted to have children (YAY)! Seven years ago, we realized that it might take more than a few drinks and the back seat of my GEO METRO. Six years ago, we realized that we needed to work on our marriage before continuing the journey to become parents. Five years ago, we fought to stay married through tons of therapy and one on one time. Four years ago, we decided to adopt. Three years ago, we realized adoption is not the warm fuzzy everyone talks about… adoption is hard. Two years ago, we adopted our sweet boy (YAY)! One year ago, we were learning how to navigate an open adoption. Today, we are learning the second child may bring as many lessons as the first.

We are now in the process of working on becoming parents for a second time.  It only took us 5 years to get kiddo number 1, you’d think we could at least cut that time in half with #2? Well, it’s not looking like it. Infertility is the reason I have my beautiful son, it’s the reason I’ve gained so many amazing friends in the adoption community, and it’s the reason that I’m sitting in limbo right now. You see, we want more children. Many of our friends are sitting in the adoption pool going on 2 years now. We don’t want to wait that long and my husband and I had some negative experiences with adoption the first time around. We tried adopting embryos and transferring them – but that didn’t work. So here we sit. Option 1: call it quits and enjoy our little man as an only child. Option 2: adopt more embryos and try again (apparently I have the uterus many women would dream of) Option 3: Jump back into the domestic infant adoption pool.

I know, we are missing an option here: Foster Care. We talk about it every day. Foster care is a system that helps kids have safe temporary homes while their biological family gets their back on their feet. We are looking for a permanent family member at this point… preferably a human one.

In the mean-time, three more pregnancy announcements from Facebook friends.

Here we sit, in limbo.  We are living impatiently wondering if we are waiting for something that may never happen. Our kiddo is so much fun! His two year old self is Hilarious, Challenging, Smart as hell, and SO MUCH FUN! This makes life a thousand times easier.

 “You will get there when you are meant to get there and not one moment sooner. Relax, Breathe and be patient.” – Mandy Hale

 I often wonder how our choices on building our family will affect our son later on. I’m not talking about how it will affect him having a sibling, only good can come from learning to get along with another human being in your face all the time. (Life lesson #1: you will have annoyances you have to live with in your life, let a sibling be the first) What I’m talking about adopting another child. There are so many differences in each adoption out there. Currently we have a semi-open relationship with his birth mother. The relationship is good and we enjoy each other’s company. My concern is what if this new child (that is YEARS away from entering our lives) has a birth parent that wants more contact or even worse… wants no contact. How will that affect both children? If my son gets to see his birth family but the other child does not – it’s an unfair balance. It’s a balance I cannot control.

Another worry, what if we decide to do embryo adoption and I get pregnant. Again, I have to worry about the above, but also I have to explain that I was able to carry and give birth to this child, but not you. Now, I have no idea if kids even have a complex about this, but still I worry. It’s possible I’m creating concerns from nothing – but as a mom, I now think how every possible thing will affect my little guy who is our WHOLE WORLD at this moment.

What I’m coming to find (and should have long ago) is that I cannot control every part these situations. Even if two biological children born from the same mother, raised by the same parents, who go to the same school, have different experiences. Experiences shape our personality. For the good or for the bad – that is up to us – the person.  I hope I can be a good enough parent to help my child take the good in all of his life experiences.  I really hope I don’t screw him up too much.

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