Adoption is a beautiful thing. There are many people who want to be parents but are not able to conceive a child without help. However, according to the Congressional Coalition On Adoption Institute, in the U.S. 397,122 children are living without permanent families in the foster care system. Reports show 101,666 of these children are eligible for adoption, but nearly 32 percent of these children will wait over three years in foster care before being adopted. Such a sad truth. But what if I told you there was a way for you and your hubby to adopt a child in utero?
There is a little-known process that allows doctors to help couples who can’t have their own babies still ‘grow’ a family. It’s called embryo adoption. Nearly seven million women struggle with infertility here in the U.S. Many find their miracle with in-vitro fertilization or IVF. That’s when doctors create an embryo in a lab using a couple’s sperm and egg and then implants it back in the woman to grow it to full term. Going through IVF also means there are leftover embryos – in fact, there is an estimated 600,000 frozen embryos right now in the United States.
The Embryo Adoption Awareness Center says 70 percent of couples eventually come back and use their own embryos, 8 percent donate them to research, 14 percent abandon or discard them and another 8 percent donate them for struggling couples to adopt.
Nightlight Christian Adoptions is a child placement agency which pioneered the embryo adoption process 17 years ago. They call the embryos “snowflakes” and to date, there have been more than 360 “snowflake babies” born.
We connected with a Black family, Janet, 36, and Robert Jones, 37, (names have been changed to protect their confidentiality), who after having their own 8-year-old boy and 2-year-old girl using fertility treatments, chose to give the leftover frozen embryos up for adoption. Check out their story:
HelloBeautiful: When and why did you decide to put your embryos up for adoption?
Janet & Robert Jones: We decided to put our embryos up for adoption in February of 2013. We had the family size that we desired, and felt as though since those lives were hanging in the balance, we would bless another couple with the same experience we had. We could not bring ourselves to donate them to science when another family could be blessed with children just like we were.
HB: Was this a difficult decision to make?
J&R: The decision was not difficult. After praying and discussing all options, we felt that we were doing the right thing.
HB: What was your experience like working with Nightlight Christian Adoption? How did you hear about Nightlight Christian Adoption?
J&R: Our experience with Nightlight was wonderful. Because they shared the same core beliefs that we did, we found it easy to communicate our needs and desires to them. They are very understanding, compassionate and professional. We felt like they cared about us and the well-being of our embryos from the very first day. They took the time to answer our numerous questions, and updated us during every step of the adoption process. We originally heard of Nightlight through our infertility clinic.
HB: Did you reveal your decision to family and friends? If so, were they accepting and supportive?
J&R: We initially revealed our intentions to our parents early in the process, but we have decided not to update them until we know if a child was born. Initially they were supportive, albeit apprehensive only because they haven’t heard of the embryo adoption process before.
HB: Have your embryos been adopted by a family? If so, have you met the child(ren)?
J&R: Yes, our embryos have been adopted, however we don’t know if any transfers have resulted in children yet.
HB: What would you tell someone who was thinking about putting their embryos up for adoption?
J&R: It is a great idea. Just like living children, these embryos are lives that deserved to be brought into this world, and they deserved to be part of loving families. The process takes a lot of soul-searching, but the alternatives (donating to science or discarding them) did not seem like choices that would take the potential child’s life into consideration. My parents didn’t choose to abort me, and although this situation is a little different, we don’t want to throw anyone’s life away.
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