Family. That word carries profound meaning. Yet each person’s definition of ‘family’ varies, shaped by unique experiences and circumstances. My definition is shaped though embryo donation.

My journey began with my own adoption as an infant, embraced by parents who became my pillars of support. Their love shaped my life, making me keenly aware that the choices of my then-teenage biological parents determined the rest my existence. I owe my very being to the path they chose.

Entering adulthood, I married my college sweetheart, envisioning a family of our own. Our firstborn, Grant, arrived on June 2006, just two years into our marriage. As we considered expanding our family, challenges arose. Despite medical interventions, including surgery for my husband, the prospect of conceiving naturally was much harder than the first time around. We chose the path of fertility treatments, which lead us to IVF. If unsuccessful, sperm donation was not completely off our radar.

We found hope in IVF. The joy of learning we were expecting twins, Nolan and Karlin, filled our hearts. Carrying them to almost full term, they entered the world on June 2010, bringing immeasurable joy and completing our trio of healthy siblings.

Yet, the IVF journey left us with nine remaining embryos.

Faced with the decision of their fate, we resolved to honor their potential for life. Two frozen embryo transfers yielded no success, and it took a very hard toll on me, physically and mentally. After the second attempt, my husband, witnessing my struggles, gently suggested that we had endured enough.

The dilemma of the frozen embryos, stored in a fertility clinic in Iowa, lingered in my thoughts. Originally planning to keep them frozen until I turned 40, but my heart urged for an earlier decision. Then a chance discovery of an article about the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program, shared by my mom, guided our path.

We knew this is what we were supposed to do. Choosing to donate the embryos, we were matched with an extraordinary family. On June 2015, their son, Corey, was born, thousands of miles away from our Iowa home. Seeing his photo invoked a mix of emotions, resembling my other children at birth.

However, gratitude triumphed, knowing he was safe and healthy.

Seven years later, our connection with Corey’s family flourishes. Texts, photos, and video messages are sent with ease. Social media connects us, making us virtual pen pals. We have visited each other’s homes, met in Las Vegas, and exchanged Christmas gifts. Corey’s birthday holds a special place, marked by thoughtful presents.

As our bond deepens, their family seamlessly integrates into our definition of ‘family.’ Love surpasses distance, making our unique connection a cherished chapter in the expansive narrative of what family means to me.

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 and help another family build their embryo donation or adoption story.

To learn about embryo donation and adoption, visit