Like many women, experiencing pregnancy and becoming a mom was something I dreamed about since I was a little girl. Coming from a relatively large family, I never thought we would struggle to conceive. Two years into marriage, we started trying. It wasn’t long before the months turned to years. The struggle dragged on and we grew weary. When two years passed with no positive pregnancy tests, we spoke with doctors. Initially our diagnosis was unexplained infertility.
Infertility is a deep, painful, and personal struggle. It changes you and your spouse in ways I’m not sure we fully understand.
Infertility can either be a force that drives you to your knees and closer or it can be a trial that rips you to shreds and tears your marriage apart. My husband and I refused to let this happen. We have not been perfect in this journey, but thankfully grace abounds!
Three and a half years into our journey, we began fertility treatments. For six years, we went through failed medicated cycles, multiple surgeries, and four IUIs. Each surgery and treatment resulted in favorable reports from the doctors, but still our arms remained empty. During this time, adoption began to stir in our hearts even while our desire to experience pregnancy continued to grow. Around this time, I learned about embryo adoption. Honestly, I was scared. What if we went all the way down this road and still ended up with empty arms? Emotionally, I wasn’t sure I could handle that. We were still bruised and grieving from failed treatments.
In February 2019, we were attending a couples retreat. By this point, I had a burden for the millions of tiny frozen embryos whose lives are on pause. During the retreat, we visited with a speaker and shared our story with her. She said something that switched on a light. “Trust that God is sovereign over the lives of our children because they belong to him whether they come from our own bodies, through adoption, or some other way.”
In the Fall of 2019, we began the process to adopt embryos through Nightlight’s Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program. There are many ways to go about embryo adoption or donation. Some fertility clinics have their own programs, and there are specific agencies like Nightlight. We chose Nightlight for multiple reasons: they’re pro-life; we would adopt embryos from the same “batch” so all of our children would be genetic siblings (this is their goal with every adoption); and we could have an open adoption with the placing family.
Snowflakes is similar to a traditional infant adoption program. We went through an application phase including a formal agreement with the agency, physician approval, a family evaluation (similar to a home study), and creating a family profile. After the application phase, we entered matching. This involved extensive questions about our personal preferences to help in the matching process, the presentation of our profile to a potential placing family, reviews of the embryology report by our fertility clinic, and our review of the placing family’s profile. Once a match is accepted, couples move to the contract phase (embryos are considered property by law, so the contracts transfer ownership of the embryos). The next step begins with shipping the embryos to the adopting parent’s fertility clinic and then the medical process can begin. At this point, it’s like the last step of IVF, where we schedule a frozen embryo transfer (FET) that hopefully results in a pregnancy.
Six weeks into matching, we asked for continued prayers from our small group. A dear friend prayed specifically that we would be matched that month. I thought, “Well there’s only one weekday left in this month, so that’s highly unlikely.” Less than 24 hours later, we got the news that we had been matched! Oh, did the tears of joy flow!
I truly believe adoption is not second best or “Plan B.” We learned that the embryos we had chosen to adopt were made before Brent and I had even met one another! So all those years ago, our family was already growing.
We accepted the match at the beginning of June 2020 and adopted 8 embryos. We’re planning to have an embryo transfer soon, and we pray that our transfer is successful, that we carry to full term, and that we are able to have subsequent successful pregnancies. Regardless of the outcome, we are so thankful to have been given such a precious gift by the placing family and pray that our story is an encouragement to others.
Do you have an embryo adoption or donation story? Send your story and photos to us! Post them yourself via Facebook and Twitter or email us your story and we will make it available on our Family Stories page, found on our website.
Email Paige@nightlight.org and help another family build their embryo donation or adoption story.
To learn about embryo donation and adoption, visit EmbryoAdoption.org.