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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

New & Exciting Pursuit

Okay, so we have some exciting news to announce...We have begun the application process for embryo adoption!!! Let me first off explain what embryo adoption is and why we have chosen to pursue this:

When couples choose to go through In Vitro Fertilization, more eggs are fertilized than are often needed to achieve a pregnancy. More than one embryo (fertilized egg) are usually transferred with the hopes that one or more will successfully implant in the woman's uterus. If this happens on the first try, the remaining embryos are cryopreserved in liquid nitrogen (frozen) until a couple chooses to expand their family and implant more, or they are thawed out to die, or killed for stem cell research (yeah, you've heard of the "embryonic stem cell research" debate especially during the election...but now you know, if you didn't know already, where these embryos come from: "leftovers" from IVF). Some babies (embryos) are frozen for 10 years or more! This is so sad - a fertilized egg which contains the entire genetic blue print for a human being - who should be 10 years already hasn't even had a womb to grow in yet!

When couples feel that their family is complete but still have remaining frozen embryos, they are left with the decision - to leave them frozen indefinitely (which is cruel) or to kill them (also cruel) OR a new option that has come about in the last 10 years or so is embryo adoption (but still isn't widely known about because our media only chooses to talk about "embryonic stem cell research" and rarely mentions "embryo adoption."). I first read about embryo adoption in 2006 - I was at work and at the moment didn't have anything to do, so I read an online Baptist Press News article about some couples adopting embryos. It instantly caught my attention as to how wonderful this was - saving frozen babies and giving them a chance at life. I told Aaron about it and he thought it sounded really neat - We even said "maybe one day, we can pursue this after we have biological kids." Ironic now, because God knew then that we'd have fertility problems, even though we didn't yet know.

We have chosen to pursue this rather than traditional adoption for several reasons:
1) It just really excites us - We can't talk about it without smiling and getting very excited!
2) If successful, it would allow me to be able to experience pregnancy and birth. Aaron can't understand this one - he hates pain, but you girls will fully understand! :)
3) We would be saving the life of a baby whose life is now put on hold - it's not dying but it's not being given the chance to live either. (unless it's given to research, then yes, it would die.)
4) It's less expensive than traditional adoption (this was our least important reason but something to consider), because sadly, the government doesn't see these as children yet. They see it as a "transfer of property." You still have legalities, but not nearly as many as you have for a child who has already been born. Thus, you save a lot of legal fees and court sessions. We will still need to raise funds, though, because while it is less expensive than traditional adoption, it costs money nonetheless (only the natural way to grow your family is free-Haha)!

Please understand that we are NOT going outside of our marriage to create a baby - We are NOT using a donor sperm/egg program or anything unethical like that (we wouldn't need to do that anyway because my eggs are viable and the few sperm that Aaron does have are healthy and could fertilize my eggs if we chose to go through IVF - It's just that because he has so few, it's unlikely that we will ever conceive naturally... But why should we go through IVF and create more frozen babies when there are already over 500,000 in the US alone!?) As Christians, we are against creating a baby except with a husband's sperm and a wife's egg. These are already embryos - an egg and sperm have already united to create a person. This is really no different than traditional adoption, except that you are getting the child at an earlier stage in its life.

Some of you might be thinking "Wow - they didn't give this a lot of thought, prayer, or time." But, there's no time criteria given in the Bible to pray before pursuing something. We are in faith to go ahead and begin the process, knowing that God is sovereign over our lives and that He can close the door on us at any time.

We have decided to go through the National Embryo Donation Center in Knoxville, TN. The Christian Medical and Dental Association endorses them - they view all of these frozen embryos as children that deserve to be given a chance at life. We submitted the initial application a couple of weeks ago, and then received a packet in the mail last week with lots of forms and medical tests ordered. Once all of those have also been submitted, we move into the homestudy phase of the program. There are open and anonymous adoptions - open is where we would have some contact with the biological parents and anonymous is where we wouldn't (though we would know about them on paper). While we could choose our preference, we are opening ourselves up to "whichever is in more need" - we aren't picky...all of them equally need a chance at life.

On average, from initial application to first embryo transfer, the process takes about a year. The NEDC gives a couple 3 attempts at a succesful transfer and pregnancy. They thaw out about 2-4 embryos and all that survive the thaw are transferred into a woman's uterus, hoping that one or more will implant. Each embryo only has about a 33% chance of implanting and making it to birth. (That percentage may sound small, but a fertile couple only has a 20%-25% chance of getting pregnant naturally in any given cycle... ) But, hopefully, given 3 tries with multiple embryos,
at least one baby would be born (that's our hope and prayer anyway). Even if there is a successful implantation, like with any pregnancy, there runs the risk of miscarriage. There are no guarantees...this is really a faith thing (but then again, all of life is a matter of trusting God).

So, please begin praying specifically for this pursuit - We are so excited! :)

P.S. Yes, please continue to pray for Aaron's healing too...We would love to have a biological child, but since we have no guarantees that God will heal him, we have faith to pursue this - This is all in God's hands and He is the One who ultimately leads our lives and decides what is best for us!


Brian said...

I am very excited for you! I think this is a great option for you. I'll be praying for you!
Marci J

Susan Sene said...

I think adoption is awesome and it's even cooler than you're able to save little babies from having no home at all at such an early stage. I had no idea they did that! May God bless you with a sweet baby very soon!

Holly said...

Hi Jennifer, My husband and I have a beautiful 7 month old son through the miracle of embryo adoption with NEDC. If you have any questions or if there is anything I can do for you, let me know. I live in the Atlanta area as well.

Anonymous said...

i'm so excited for the 2 of you. i've been out of town for a while so i didn't have a chance to read your blog for an update. i'll continue praying... :)