A Perfect Match
My husband and I decided to embark on our IVF journey in 2016. Our hope, our dream, was to have a large family. Naturally, this was our entire focus; although we previously had two kids, we wanted at least one more blessing from God.
After our first transfer that was unsuccessful, we decided to wait a couple months and try for the last time putting it all in God’s hands. With much frustration, tears, and prayers we decided to pursue a second transfer. And it worked! We were told it was TWINS!
My pregnancy was very difficult—nothing about getting pregnant and being pregnant was easy. After the boys were born at a 37 weeks, I diagnosed with placenta accreta and had to have an emergency hysterectomy. Our family was complete. We were blessed!
But now what? We had frozen embryos remaining…waiting for their chance at life. We knew we did not want to discard them, so I contacted the specialist I saw for our IVF treatment. He recommended the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program through Nightlight Christian Adoptions.
I knew after talking to them the first time this was where we needed to donate our embryos.
The process was so simple, informative, and very heart felt. Amazing was an understatement. We immediately started the paperwork and in a couple months we were placed into matching.
Our first match was the perfect match. The connection with them was instantaneous! We knew right away they were the family God choose for our embryos. They were going to be wonderful parents. This couple have hearts for God, and an incredible amount of faith.
We stay in contact with our adoptive family, share memories, and pray for each other. This sweet family is now pregnant with their first baby and we could not be more excited for them! We are forever grateful to Nightlight for helping us throughout this journey, and for connecting us with our beautiful adoptive family.
Embryo Donation: It’s Worth It
Our firstborn was conceived naturally. But when it came time to try for our second child, initial challenges turned to outright frustration. It became apparent that something was wrong.
After medical tests did not reveal any causes for concern, we tried natural planning methods and fertility treatments, all to no avail. By the time we first considered in vitro fertilization, we were already extremely burnt out, but little did we know that the stress was just beginning.
Despite the ongoing physical strain on my wife and the emotional toll on all of us, she managed to take on her new role as the human pin cushion and (with great restraint) we both managed not to kill our socially-inept fertility doctor.
Thankfully, we did have our pot of gold waiting at the end of the rainbow, our beautiful daughter. We were now a happy family of four and that is what we shall remain.
However, we did have several remaining embryos. Discarding them did not feel right. We wanted to give them a chance to be born and live happy and productive lives. With the help of the Snowflakes program, we identified two families to adopt these embryos, and both have been successful in achieving pregnancies!
There was a fair amount of work in going through the legal channels and FDA requirements of donating, but it was well worth it. There is a tremendous sense of fulfillment in knowing that we have helped bring more lives to fruition and joy to two deserving families.
It Was at That Moment That I Had Peace
When we discovered that I was an ideal candidate for IVF several years ago, I was elated! My husband, however, was apprehensive. I am the “seize the moment” type of person, where my husband is the more logical, big picture personality. I saw the opportunity to have a family… He saw the possible moral dilemma we would be facing in the future.
We were blessed to have three positive pregnancies from two IVF transfers! The first resulted in a healthy baby boy, the second unfortunately ended in miscarriage, but the third was with triplets! Our family was now complete.
But we still had four embryos.
After years and years of struggling with what to do, we eventually decided that we would try to transfer them ourselves. However, the Lord had other plans. I was diagnosed with Chronic Lyme Disease and my doctor strongly advised against us trying to get pregnant again with the remaining embryos. We prayed and searched for options when the Lord opened doors that ultimately led us to the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program. We had no idea that such a program existed! Once we heard about Nightlight and their embryo adoption program, we knew that this was the right path for us and our embryos.
Although it was not easy, the Lord knew my heart and knew when I would be ready for this glorious match. It took years for us to finalize the process—not because it was difficult, but because I was struggling with whether I could go through with the adoption. I still was not ready to surrender completely. But when I did, my heart was changed forever!
In the beginning, my heart would sink into my stomach with every email from the agency. Especially when they announced they had found a match for our family. I was not sure my heart could handle it. But when I read Jason and Laura’s profile and could see their love for the Lord, I thought back to the days when I too yearned for a child of my own and knew the pain they were going through. I knew that the Lord had given us this opportunity to help them.
My life verse is Esther 4:14: “For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
I knew that all I had been through my entire life, the struggles with being infertile, the miscarriage, the high-risk pregnancies, weeks in the NICU, were all leading to this moment in my life—where the Lord would use us to help the most amazing, God-fearing couple to build their family. It was at that moment, that I had a peace that surpassed all understanding and knew this was God’s will.
We both agreed to have open communication via email. We have been in touch with Jason and Laura throughout this whole process. Unfortunately, their first transfer with the embryos did not result in a thriving pregnancy. However, we all know that God is good and that His will is perfect. We may not understand His plan right now, but we know that with His help and guidance, we are giving these precious embryos every chance at life.
We are eternally grateful for Jason and Laura and their obedience to the Lord and are praying for a successful IVF transfer in the next few months. We are so thankful for the Snowflakes Adoption Program and pray that the Lord uses our story to help another couple in our situation.
Five Little Embryos
I remember how frightened, yet excited I was when we first embarked upon the journey of in vitro fertilization. God gave us a way for my husband and I to bear children that were biological ours. We ended up with seven embryos total and transferred two of our precious babies. When both actually took and implanted, my journey began as a mother of multiples.
When I was four months along, we found out our daughter had a sporadic condition called Trisomy 13. We cried and prayed for a miracle. Each life is precious and we refused to give up on our precious girl. On February 28th, 2012, I began to hemorrhage and had an emergency C-section to deliver our twins. I needed a blood transfusion and was desperate to see Eve healed. However, God saw fit to heal her when she entered into heaven the day after she was born. We had our son, Christian, but little did I know that gaining a child was not the only thing I brought home with me that day.
It turned out that because of the nature of the birth, I developed a rare disease called Secondary Addison’s Disease. My endocrinologist told me I could not go through with another IVF transfer or pregnancy, as it would be detrimental to my health.
All at once my dreams of having a large family diminished. I felt stripped as if my dream died along with Eve. We had five years to make a decision as to what to do with our remaining babies. I wrestled with God during that entire time, begging for a healing that would allow me to become a mother of more children on earth.
The Lord answered me clearly when I was researching on the computer and up popped the page for Nightlight’s Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program. I knew God was leading me to them. It touched my heart that this organization treated embryos like the children we knew they were.
I began to see how this was a real adoption, with paperwork and guidelines. In all honesty, I did not want to donate our children; I wanted to have them in our family. However, God asked me very clearly, “Do you trust me?” I knew my answer was yes. I began to fill out the paperwork and wept. I told my husband who stood in agreement with me, “I don’t want to do this, but I know our children have a destiny over their lives. A destiny which can only occur if they are born, not suspended in a frozen state.”
The first time I saw our adoptive family via their family profile, I did not want to like them. It was hard to give away something I so desperately wanted. But the true sacrifice of motherhood is giving away the very thing you begged God for. I remember thinking this is just like Abraham and Isaac, except in this case my metaphorical Isaac was not coming home with us.
As I read this couple’s profile, I fell in love with their hearts. I knew by what I read they were going to be amazing parents. We chose open adoption because I did not want to limit God. I knew it would be difficult to see the pictures, but I felt it was important to intercede for the adoptive parents and the babies. They were now our family too, and we loved them.
Currently, we email and we love sending gifts to their newborn daughter. They are just the sweetest, with hearts for God, and an incredible amount of faith. I will never forget when they sent me a bracelet they had made for me that said, “Forever grateful” and contained five little snowflakes. I wept for days afterward. Eventually, I see us meeting down the road, but in the meantime, it is a joy just to be a part of their lives in the ways that we can. This is a process that is achingly beautiful, but when we give God our ashes, we receive beauty in return.
Only One Was Meant For Us
My husband and I decided to embark on our IVF journey in 2014. Our hope, our dream, was to have a child. Naturally, this was what our entire focus was; with very little thought and prayer of what would come after our dream had come true. In which it did! In July of 2015, we gave birth to our miracle baby girl. On our very first transfer. She was perfection!
During the course of our fertility treatment, we had conceived eight beautiful embryos. However, Viv was our only transfer. My pregnancy was very difficult—nothing about getting pregnant and being pregnant was easy. After she was born, it was recommended that we do not pursue another transfer with our remaining embryos. And as hard as that was to process, we knew our daughter was a miracle; we knew we were blessed. Our family was complete.
But now what? We had seven frozen embryos. This is the part that we did not foresee. There were embryos, seven little beautiful pieces of us, frozen. Waiting for their chance at life. But we couldn’t give them that chance.
We started looking into our next steps. We knew we did not want to just discard the embryos nor donate them to science. We discussed the donation process with the hospital in which we did our infertility treatments, but it didn’t feel right. Then we found Nightlight Christian Adoptions and the Snowflakes program. But we knew very little about embryo adoption. I read, researched, and finally called the agency. They were absolutely amazing! I knew after talking to them the first time this was where we needed to donate our embryos.
The process was so simple: No pressure, informative, and honest. Caring and warm. When we first started the donation, we initially wanted a closed placement, but eventually came to the conclusion that open would be the best choice for our family.
We were finally placed into matching and received our first adoptive family profile. The connection with them was instant! We knew right away they were the couple God choose to be parents to our embryos.
Once the match was made, we drew up a contract with them with the help of Nightlight. It was so wonderful and we fell in love with them. We were updated the entire way of the remainder of their journey: Their transfer, their pregnancy, and the birth of their son! We exchanged pictures. One them, of him. Of us and Vivienne! We will cherish this relationship for the rest of our life.
We are forever grateful to Nightlight for helping us throughout this journey. For connecting us with our beautiful adoptive family. Our embryos were conceived out of love between my husband and me, but only one was meant for us. The others were conceived for the adoptive family. God knew from the start that they were meant to be brought into this world by their true mommy and raised by their true parents.
We will never regret our decision. It is a beautiful journey to be a part of; a beautiful thing to witness and watch.
Embryo Donation: Four Years Later…
Four years ago we participated in a featured story for Nightlight’s Pathway2Family magazine. So much has changed in the ensuing years!
Shortly after our chosen adopting family gave birth to Corey, his mother April and I became Facebook friends. At first, it was so strange to see pictures of him with his family. I was still working through the emotions of placing our embryos with another family. Knowing we had a biological child living across the United States who we were not raising was difficult.
April and I started messaging back and forth. We talked about so many things – like, “Is it okay if I comment or ‘like’ your posts/photos on Facebook or is that strange,” or “Do you feel comfortable sharing your address so we can exchange Christmas cards?” Our openness with each other throughout the past four years has allowed us to build a relationship I couldn’t have imagined before!
In the fall of 2015, we almost crossed paths with Corey and his family as we were in Las Vegas and were in the same hotel/restaurant as they were less than 24 hours apart. Sadly, before we realized it, they had already left town to go back home. I messaged her, “Crazy!! It would have been wonderful to meet you all! Someday…”
I wrote a similar message to April in 2016 after I shared a story about two other families who were connected through embryo adoption who met and considered themselves “family” afterwards. I shared, “I thought this story was amazing! Can’t wait to meet you all in person some day!” That December, we exchanged Christmas cards and of the millions of designs out there, we had selected the exact same card! April messaged, “It’s like we have a lot in common or something.”
We messaged often about being grateful for the open relationship we have. Open communication was one of the highest preferences for me when being matched through Snowflakes. Forty-two years ago, I was adopted as an infant and received little medical information about myself or my biological parents. I did not want our biological child to have to go through life not having that information or not having a connection to our family. I also wanted my children to have a relationship with their biological brother. With today’s advances in medicine, often a biological sibling is able to save the life of a sibling by giving them a much needed kidney or bone marrow, for example. I wanted the four of them to always know they were connected and would be able to rely on one another should one of them ever need something like that.
A year later, my kids began asking more questions about Corey and when we could meet him and his family. I respected April’s thoughts about wanting Corey to be older so that he could understand more about us and our connection. However, I just kept thinking it would be great if our kids grew up knowing each other and loving one another. But I knew there would be a perfect time for all of this to happen.
In the spring of 2018, April messaged that she and Ryan had been talking about the possibility of our families meeting and wondered what we thought. It didn’t take me long at all to respond—“We would love to meet!” By May, we had a plan for them to fly to Iowa and stay for a few days. We were so excited!
The next several months were filled with correspondence about travel plans and itineraries. We talked about what we would do together and even made plans to have professional family photos together.
On November 1, we drove to a local restaurant not far from our home. I could hardly believe we were actually going to meet our biological son and his family for dinner! It seemed so surreal! I was a bit worried about what our kids might say or do. (I had told April that although we had explained their connection and relationship, I couldn’t guarantee at some point one of my kids may not call Corey their “brother” without saying the word “biological” ahead of it.) The moment we saw them it was like we had always known them. Conversation came easy, the kids immediately bonded and loved one another. Their daughter and our daughter loved having another girl to talk to and play with. The boys were enthralled with each other and loved playing together.
We spent the next four days together enjoying meals, showing them our hometown, letting the kids play while we adults socialized, attended church, and just enjoying our time together. They even came to a couple of basketball games our youngest son had while they were in town. (I remember messaging April a few times when they would send photos of Corey playing ball or doing something else sports oriented, telling them he was much like our boys who loved to be rough and tough!) It was fun to be at the games together and show them a glimpse of our family and life. We were so sad when our time came to an end.
Our girls have been pen pals since the visit and we are excited to have a trip planned to visit them in their hometown in December this year! Embryo adoption has been such a gift for both of our families in ways I don’t believe either of us could have imagined. We are extremely blessed!
Thinking Today About Tomorrow’s Decision
It has always been our opinion that life begins at conception. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with an extreme case of endometriosis that we wondered if we could have the family we felt we were meant to have and not violate our morals.
When my husband and I ran into fertility struggles, like many others, we had to start to think ‘outside of the box’ regarding how to start a family. We have friends who decided against IVF over 20 years ago because they were against the idea of their embryos (children) being discarded or remaining frozen indefinitely. I had learned about embryo adoption after seeing something in the media, and so I began to research this unique form of adoption.
We intended to make sure that each life we created was respected and had a chance to become the precious individual they were created to be. One important part of our decision to create embryos was to figure out how to protect them in the event something happened to both my husband and myself. Who would care for our unborn children?
Nightlight Christian Adoptions helped us to make this type of plan, even before we had completed our family with the embryos we created. We were able to specify in our final life documents that we wanted our embryos to be placed with an adopting family through the Nightlight Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program.
With great joy, our twin boys were born in April 2008. My endometriosis precluded me from pursuing a second pregnancy, and we determined to work with Snowflakes to place our embryos for adoption. We believed they understood and agreed with our desire to give our embryos the respect and opportunity to be born.
The team began to help us choose a family to adopt our remaining embryos. The match was a clear hit-it-out-of-the-park home run for us! We immediately said, “Yes, we want our children to be born to this faith-filled couple.” Unfortunately, the family did not achieve a pregnancy and had no embryos remaining.
We have never felt we made the wrong decision. We are so grateful that this agency provided a way for us to honor our remaining embryos by allowing us to choose a recipient family. We hope another family with remaining embryos also chose this wonderful adoptive family and that they eventually had the family they desired.
Embryo adoption is a blessing to both those who have remaining embryos and to those desiring to experience pregnancy, childbirth, and family!
Apprehension Turns into Appreciation
Countless fertility treatments failed IVF, failed frozen embryo transfer, a devastating stillbirth, an interrupted adoption, year after year, longing for children without success. In our wildest dreams, we never thought we would be faced with deciding what to do with remaining frozen embryos!
Then, seven years and four children later, we knew our family was complete. We had 14 embryos in frozen storage. We struggled with the decision of what to do with these little lives. Destroying them was not an option for us. It was very important for us to know that if they were given the chance to grow into babies that they were loved and safe. Our clinic suggested we look into Snowflakes®. We contacted Snowflakes and discovered we could decide who would receive our embryos! That’s when we knew this was the path that was best for us.
Throughout the matching process, we were not sure what we wanted in terms of communication with our adopting family. We at least wanted to know if children were born and to be able to receive pictures and updates at least once per year. We were open to eventually meeting our genetic children and the adopting family. Those were our original communication expectations. In reality, we have gotten so much more than we ever could have hoped or imagined.
Soon after the match, we were communicating with the family we had chosen through the agency. Eventually, that led to direct email contact and, when they learned they were pregnant, a mutual exchange of phone numbers. When their son was born in October 2016, we had pictures within minutes. Communication continued almost daily with wonderful images showing how much he was changing. My feelings about this baby boy were mixed: but I knew our adopting family wanted a child as much as we did when we were struggling to build our family. Then the idea of meeting face-to-face was raised. We were grateful, but also apprehensive. In December 2016, when their son was just a couple months old, we decided to take an 8-hour road trip with our 4 children to meet them. What an amazing, incredible experience! Holding the baby and meeting his parents confirmed for us we had made the right decision. The parents were so kind and understanding—they were easy to talk to and made sure we got to enjoy our time with the baby. We were able to see their home and the area where their son will grow up. Spending time with them was amazing and did so much to ease our apprehension. Now we feel like we have an extended family! Their son (and hopefully future children as well!) will grow up knowing about us and knowing that we love him and made our decision based on our love. We continue to communicate with our adopting couple of times a week, and they already have plans to come visit us this summer! We truly feel blessed with our experience and at peace with our decision.
A Symbol of Courage
When Philip popped the question at the 2002 Winter Olympics, there was no way that he and his lovely bride-to-be could have anticipated that the emblem of the Games – a simple Snowflake – would reappear in their lives in an unexpected way. And just like the 2002 Olympic emblem symbolized the athlete’s courage, Philip and Mary’s courage is displayed in their own Snowflakes story.
Love found Philip and Mary a little later in life when the couple was both in their early 30s. From when they first met in May of 2001, their relationship grew quickly. Nine months from when they first met, they were engaged and a year after Mary said “Yes”, the couple tied the knot.
But soon it became clear that they would have troubles conceiving. Not being ones to waste time, they quickly turned to IVF. You can imagine their surprise when their first and only treatment resulted in seven viable embryos. Mary insisted they transfer three to increase their chances of success. The couple was overjoyed when they received the word that they were pregnant. But another surprise was waiting for them when they went in for their second ultrasound: not just one, but two of the embryos had nestled into her womb. They were expecting twins! Mary spent the rest of her pregnancy surprised at each and every ultrasound that she had two healthy babies growing. With joy, they welcomed a healthy son and daughter into their eager arms.
It was a dream come true. Philip and Mary hadn’t expected it to work the first time, and they certainly hadn’t expected that their dream of becoming a family of four would happen in just one pregnancy. Now four embryos, their babies, waited in frozen storage for Philip and Mary to make a decision for their future. Mary had never wanted to have a newborn at 40 years old. Now at 36 years old, she felt she had less than four years to make her decision. “We asked the lab to take care of my babies,” Mary recalls. “We were wholly unprepared what to do with the embryos. I saw the original three floating and multiplying in a Petri dish before they were transferred to my womb. Of those original embryos, two are running havoc as we speak.”
Being Catholic, destroying the embryos or donating them to science simply was not an option. “There is no question in my heart that embryos, given a fair chance, are the earliest form of human life,” Mary stated. “There was no question that I took responsibility to bring all seven embryos into this world. It is my duty to take care of all of them. To give them the best possible chance for life.” Giving the embryos life in their family wasn’t a realistic option. But Mary wasn’t ready to let the embryos go. Finally, the time came to pay the annual fee for embryo storage: a decision had to be made.
After researching different options, it was clear to Philip and Mary that the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program at Nightlight Christian Adoptions was the right fit for them. “It was the best decision I’ve made,” says Mary. They found a loving Christian couple to receive their embryos. It was a bittersweet time, but it was the best decision for the embryos and for Philip and Mary. The adoptive family had their frozen embryo transfer around the holidays. No news came to Philip and Mary. And Mary knew before she even heard from the genetic family that the transfer wasn’t successful. “I mourned the Snowflakes,” Mary shares. “I still think of them and wonder “what if’”. I so badly wanted them to have a life. My soul is still sad, but it is clear. No regrets.” To those with remaining embryos, Mary has this to say: “Follow your heart and give your Snowflakes the best chance for life. You will not regret it.”
Is Donating Your Embryos The Right Choice?
After the birth of their first daughter, Cecile and Michael wanted to grow their family, so they turned to IVF. They joyfully welcomed their son as a result. However, when they naturally conceived their third child, they knew they would need to do something with their remaining embryos.
“It wasn’t an instant choice,” Cecile said. “It took us three years to make that choice. We wondered, ‘Is it okay to give away your embryos because it isn’t convenient? What kind of family were we exposing them to?’”
“What does it mean to me to have a biological child somewhere else? How am I going to feel about that?” Michael recalls. “I came to the realization that life is more precious than my personal feelings.”
The couple agreed to donate their embryos through the Snowflake Embryo Adoption Program, where they were matched with an adopting family, Joanna, and David.
Joanna and David had one child and were eager to have more. After several miscarriages, they tried a number of fertility treatment options but eventually decided embryo adoption was the right fit for their family. They liked the idea of Joanna carrying the child, which gave them the opportunity to share the pregnancy with their son, and bond as a family before the baby even arrived.
“We knew there were families who had remaining embryos and that those families might be struggling to decide what to do with them. We felt like we could alleviate some of that burden and grow our family,” says David.
Like many families who participate in the Snowflakes program, they were initially a little hesitant about an open adoption; as time went on, though, they became much more comfortable getting to know the placing family.
“Snowflakes had been our mediator of handwritten letters and emails,” Joanna said. “We felt more comfortable with that. It gave us some limits, some guards in the beginning.”
“Anyone with a young child knows that you need to acclimate your family. Those changes can be difficult, and a little distance was good at the time,” David said. “As our daughter grows and becomes more aware, that’s when we’ll start to introduce the idea and the explanations [of where she came from] at whatever level she’s at. That’s when the contact becomes more open and direct…it’s ultimately about what our daughter is most comfortable with. It’s her story and we want to be sensitive to that.”
Cecile agrees. “I don’t want to confuse her. Life is confusing enough. I am following David and Joanna’s lead as far as they want to take it.”
Joanna and David are grateful to Cecile and Michael for their gift.
“They made an amazing, loving choice to donate those embryos. We had this miracle daughter who has blessed our lives more than we could ever imagine,” Joanna said. “We’re so thankful for that opportunity. It’s a life-giving option and we’re on the receiving end of it.”
“It’s an incredible testament to the power of life,” David says. “If you go through this process, you are saying that this matters, this life matters, it’s not just a couple of cells you keep in cold storage or discard. It becomes a person. Ultimately, this is Vivienne’s story and part of who she is. She’s going to direct that story. She’s got a lot of people who love her for various reasons.”
“She’s lucky,” Joanna adds.
Finding Someone ‘Just Like Us’
We spent over 10 years trying to start our family before our son was born. As a result of IVF treatments, we now have three children at home, a boy (9), and twin girls (7). Because of the Snowflake Embryo Adoption program, we also have two healthy genetic children, a boy and a girl (twins), who are being raised by their wonderful adoptive parents.
The circumstances and decision for each family are different. Given the challenges we have faced and our current ages, our decision was ultimately the right one for us but yet it was incredibly difficult to make. We saw the embryos as children so we felt our options were 1) donating them anonymously through a clinic or agency with no say in the choice of parents or 2) choose a family to place them with through an embryo adoption program like Snowflakes. Doing nothing or donating the embryos for science was not an acceptable alternative for us.
It was a few years before we considered what to do with the remaining embryos. With eight embryos left, we faced the possibility of not just one more child but 2, 4 or more. We also considered that we would be in our late sixties when these children would be in their teens and early twenties. We wanted the children to have younger parents whose values were similar to ours, which is why we chose an open adoption process through the Snowflakes program.
The decision to place the embryos for adoption was still exceedingly difficult. Since we had been through the adoption process at an earlier time and knew what was involved a home study, friend’s letters of recommendation, background checks, and legal documents we knew the adoptive parents would be well screened by the program. We prepared our papers, assembled some pictures, and then sent them to the program.
We waited for a few weeks for information about the prospective adoptive parents. We didn’t find someone ‘just like us’ only younger – but we did find a couple who had been married for seven years and were suffering from infertility. They were in their late twenties/early thirties, very loving and very caring. The staff answered our questions and concerns about the couple. Were they both really committed to this adoption? Were they going to be able to handle it financially? Will they accept multiples? Did they have other support from friends and family? With the answers provided, we were willing to proceed.
From the first reading of the letter from the prospective adopting couple to the signing of the adoption papers, we prayed. We prayed that the children would survive the thawing process, that the procedure would work the first time for the adoptive parents, and the children be strong and thrive. We prayed that the financial burden would not be too great for the adopting parents. All our prayers were answered. They gave birth to healthy twins, a girl, and a boy!
The parents sent us an email to let us know that everyone was healthy and happy and sent pictures as well. Since then, we have received periodic updates, which we hadn’t expected at all.
When we signed the adoption papers, we never thought that we would see the faces of these children. Now we have and that in itself is a tremendous blessing. We are comforted, knowing that they are in a loving home. We trust their parents to raise them as best they can. We are trying to do the best we can with the three entrusted to our care in our home.
Embryo Donation Brings Peace of Mind
Kurt and I, after trying so long to get pregnant on our own, were so thankful that in-vitro worked the first time around, blessing us with Kevin, Kyle, and Samantha. What a joy they are in our lives!
We agreed we were done now having children, yet I didn’t feel we were finished–what were we to do with our remaining embryos was nagging me. I couldn’t leave them in limbo, and I wasn’t at peace with them being destroyed by donating to research. Learning about embryo adoption was interesting, and a bit overwhelming at first. The idea of strangers giving birth to my embryos…wow! But at the same time, it made sense.
It was a great solution–It could save the lives of our embryos and give the life of a child to a couple much like us, one we would choose. The embryo adoption process at Snowflakes enabled us to match with the adopting couple to ensure a loving, secure home.
Today we can’t imagine anything greater. The adopting couple is incredible parents and their little Samantha couldn’t be more blessed. Embryo Adoption fulfilled our hopes and finished the process with everyone living happily ever after.
New Life is Born from Loss
When Justin and Amanda decided to pursue in vitro fertilization after the birth of their first child, they always knew they would end up donating their remaining embryos. After their IVF treatment resulted in twins, the couple tried unsuccessfully to have more children. Eventually, the emotional and physical toll was too much to take, and they decided to stop treatment.
“We’d always said that we’d keep the embryos until I was 40,” Amanda said. “But I came to a point when I had a hard time knowing [the embryos] were sitting there and we weren’t doing anything with them.”
For Amanda, who was adopted herself, the open adoption option was appealing. She grew up not knowing her biological family and didn’t want the same thing to happen to her biological child.
“Not having that connection was always an empty spot for me. I wouldn’t have been okay with an anonymous placement,” she said. The couples chose to work with the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program and started the process of selecting a family for their remaining embryos. They ended up choosing the family in the first profile they reviewed.
“We were worried about the process, because how do you pick a parent for your child?” Amanda recalls. “We felt connected to their profile…we had a lot of similarities in background and education. We wanted a family that was active and involved in their church and had a close family. I honestly didn’t know we’d find someone who had everything that we were looking for.”
But they did – Amanda and Justin agreed to a match with Ryan and April, who adopted their embryos.
When Ryan and April’s second daughter was just six days old, she was diagnosed with a genetic disorder that ended up taking her life just a few short months later.
“Because it was a genetic disorder, we had ourselves tested and discovered we were both carriers,” explained April. “Which meant all of our children had a 25% chance having this terrible disease. We decided not to have any more biological children, but we didn’t feel that our family was complete.”
April and Ryan looked into different options and when they heard about embryo adoption they knew it was the right choice for them. April liked the fact she could carry the child herself – something she knew her body was capable of doing. They also liked the idea of having some control over the timing of adding more children to their family.
Their son, Corinth, was born from the embryos placed into their family by Amanda and Justin. “We were apprehensive about the aspect of openness when we first started considering embryo adoption. Now, I am so grateful that Corinth will grow up knowing his genetic roots,” says April
Amanda is candid when she speaks about her experience and admits that giving up her remaining embryos is not always an easy decision to live with.
“The thought of having a child out there that I’m not raising is really hard,” Amanda says. “But this kid has two families that wanted him and love him and continue to pray for him. It was not easy for me, but what an amazing gift we’ve given this family. There are days that I have to go back to that feeling and am grateful that we were able to provide this amazing blessing!”
Ryan and April acknowledge their own loss of not having any more of their own biological children but would recommend embryo adoption to anyone looking for alternative methods to grow their family.
“Thirty years ago, we wouldn’t have had genetic testing. Now, because we know what our genetic makeup is, we couldn’t bring ourselves to take the risk [of having more biological children]. That would have been a risk we were taking with someone else’s life,” Ryan says. “Being where we are medically, and being denied our freedom to have more children in ignorance, that same medical technology brought us the opportunity to have Corinth.”.
“These remaining embryos are lives that need a chance to be loved,” April said. “I would never minimize a couple’s desire to have their ‘own’ children, but if your situation prevents you from that, embryo adoption is a miraculous process that allows you to give birth to your adopted child.”
Choosing Life for Our Embryos
On December 26, after 3 years of fertility treatments including IVF, we found out that we were finally pregnant! Words can hardly begin to describe the joy we felt. That joy became even more intensified a few weeks later when we find out we were having twins. What a blessing!
On June 22, our twins were born 10 weeks early. At that time the doctors delivering the twins recommended that I not get pregnant again. It was too risky. Because we had two healthy children this news was not too disappointing to us. However, we had 13 precious frozen babies. Their lives were valuable to us. Therefore, we knew that taking their lives by thawing and disposing of them or using them for scientific research was not an option for us.
We had heard of embryo donation and started researching it. Later, we heard about embryo adoption, a program where we could choose the parents that would raise our remaining embryo children. Although it was hard to let go of our embryos, we knew we wanted them to have a chance to live. The opportunity to help another couple suffering from infertility gave us great satisfaction. Had we not been able to have our genetic children, we would have wanted the opportunity to adopt embryos and experience the joy of pregnancy.
We attended a meeting where we were able to meet a number of families who adopted embryos, we were amazed to see the great joy and fulfillment these children brought to their lives. At that point, we knew with even greater confidence that we had made the right decision. We are eternally grateful to the couple who adopted our embryos and gave them a chance at life.
Our Family was Expanded by Love
Chris and Rebecca were high school sweethearts. They got engaged during their freshman year of college and were married soon afterward. They knew that someday they wanted to start a family. However, Rebecca had an inkling she might have fertility issues since she was first diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. Then shortly after she was diagnosed with endometriosis and fallopian tube damage.
Eleven years of infertility struggles and heartache, the couple decided it was time to pursue IVF. This was the only option that would allow the couple to have a safe implantation and pregnancy. Being avid Christians, they felt God was leading them in this direction.
Through one IVF cycle, the couple had 13 embryos. Two were implanted and Rebecca became pregnant with twin girls. The pregnancy was extremely challenging for Rebecca, and after the twins were born it was made clear they would not be able to use their remaining embryos. They placed them into storage and paid a few hundred dollars a year to keep them frozen. Then a surprise! Five days before Rebecca a needed hysterectomy, the couple learned they were expecting a third daughter.
Chris and Rebecca’s fertility clinic needed the couple to make a final decision on what to do with their embryos. The options the clinic presented were an anonymous donation, thaw and discard, or donate to research. They liked the idea of giving the embryos to another couple who’ve experienced fertility issues like themselves. But they wanted to have a say in which couple received their embryos; they didn’t want to donate them to just anyone through the clinic. After extensive research, the couple found the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption program.
Snowflakes, through Nightlight Christian Adoptions, allows placing families with remaining embryos to match with adopting families based on mutual preferences. It also allows the couple to choose which family would receive their embryos. Both Chris and Rebecca knew they were to bless another couple with their embryos through Snowflakes. Though it was a difficult decision, this was the only option that gave them peace.
Chris and Rebecca chose Dan and Kelli to adopt their embryos. The two families both opted for an open adoption and had an immediate connection. Dan and Kelli transferred the adopted embryos and were blessed with a son and later a daughter. Chris and Rebecca’s children have met their siblings and know they’re their biological siblings. They have a “sibling” book with many pictures, and the children spend time together on Facebook and Skype.
After their family was complete, Dan and Kelli returned the remaining embryos to Chris and Rebecca, who were able to choose another family for them through Snowflakes. They now have a special connection with two families, and they are extremely grateful for that. “Chris and I think it is phenomenal that God has used our infertility struggles to bless two other couples, and created lasting friendships among us as well,” says Rebecca.
Embryos and Divorce
My spirit was broken when my marriage ended after almost 12 years. Literally, overnight I became the single mother of my 3-year-old daughter, uncertain and scared about the future. It took nearly six months to finalize our divorce and now I faced the reality of what to do with our four remaining frozen embryos. I was awarded custody of the embryos, and would soon realize the only option available to me was to place them with a family through adoption.
I did an online search and learned about Snowflakes Embryo Adoption. I met with a counselor through my church and prayed. Over the course of those months, and the year in-between my divorce and the finalization of the placement, I came to realize I needed to do what was best for the remaining embryos, and me. Those 4 frozen embryos were not a mistake; they were created so God could give them life. Once I really grasped this, it became clear I could do this – place my embryos into an adopting family.
I reviewed three family profiles presented to me separately by the program. The third family profile I reviewed was the right family from my perspective! They had two biological daughters and had opened their home to helping children in the U.S. foster program. They were raised in the same faith background I was. They learned about Snowflakes through their church. The Nightlight team really helped me walk through what would be best for the children born from the embryos and what type of communication plan I would be comfortable maintaining with the adoptive parents.
I struggle with control. The control freak in me continued to try and figure out God’s plan for these embryos. For their first frozen embryo transfer, the adopting family transferred two of the four embryos. My feelings ran the gamut. What if they had a girl? I prayed they would have a boy because I wasn’t familiar with raising boys. A boy would be different. Easier, for me.
The adopting family’s son was born when my daughter was 6. She was too young to understand all of the particulars, but I definitely began the process of telling her the story. I did not want either of us feeling shame for this choice. I introduced her to the family and her biological brother through photos as close family friends that are like family. She saw photos and received updates about his milestones and was happy with that.
I struggled. Their son was nearly identical to my daughter’s baby pictures! I found comfort in my faith and had confidence I had made the right choice.
Two years later, their second son was born. The doctors gave him only a 20% chance of being born! But he was absolutely perfect and healthy in every way. My daughter was now 8. One night as we snuggled up in bed she talked about ‘the boys’ as they would affectionately be known forevermore and God facilitated a loving honest dialogue between us about her brothers. Tears come to the surface as I think of that sweet painful conversation.
At Christmas, we flew to meet the family in person. It was scary and magical, awkward, and perfect all at the same time. The boys were 3 and 1. We savored our time with them and marveled at their beautiful resemblance to my daughter. My mind turned to what I had learned from my faith: God works all things together for good.
This past May, during a visit to see the boys, I realized and accepted my role to help my daughter embrace this part of her family story. To help her do what is best for her in connecting with her brothers. I am my daughter’s mother before anything else and my job is to be true to that and support her as she builds a relationship across miles and age difference.
I wanted to share my story because you don’t often hear about people who placed their embryos as a result of a divorce. When I made this decision I did not feel like my womb was closed. I wanted more children. The choice to destroy the embryos was never a consideration for me. Even with fear and uncertainty about the future, I knew this was the right choice for all of us. My daughter has biological brothers who were adopted and we are loud and proud about it. While I have moments of sadness, those are overshadowed when I see the beautiful eyes, smiling faces, and hear those beautiful voices say, “Miss Jennifer!” It’s one of the sweetest sounds in the world.
Why We Placed Our Embryos Up for Adoption
We placed our embryos for adoption through Snowflakes and this is our story…
After an IVF cycle producing 19 embryos, two embryo transfers and the birth of 3 children, we knew we were done building our family and needed to decide what to do with our remaining 14 embryos. For us, to destroy them was not an option so, do we donate them for stem cell research? We had seen what came from these little frozen embryos so once again that was not an option; we wanted to give them life! So we talked with a few friends and some nurses and were told about Snowflakes. We had a lot of questions and were given the answers in a very caring manner. We knew we were making the right decision.
We choose a family that was so much like us it was amazing. They were the first profile we saw but how did we wait to see another profile when this couple was so much like us? We called them Christmas Eve 2011 and told them that we picked them, and our family grew that night!
They called after the first transfer and told us they thawed three and implanted two (one did not make it through the thawing process) and I cried. I cried for the one that did not make it and I cried tears of happiness for the two that did. Then when they went to their first sonogram and to hear heartbeats they called to say they were pregnant with one. Once again tears of sorrow and happiness. Months later and many phone calls and emails later, we got the call they were having a girl!
We decided in October to go visit them for a weekend before our bio daughter was born and from the moment we stepped off the plane to the hugs and open arms I knew our life was changed forever, this couple and all of their family were now a part of ours.
We spent time with their families and had some alone time with them. I sat on the couch with her for a long time with my hand on her belly feeling the baby kick and what a surreal feeling that was! We are already planning to get our families together so our children can be close for a lifetime!
There have been times of sorrow and doubt but the reality is we were not going to have 14 more children, and for us, the chance to give a couple what they wanted so badly and give our embryos a chance at life, and to be able to know them and be a part of their life, what more can a parent ask for!! This has been a very rewarding experience and I can’t imagine our life any other way!
Not Our Embryos to Keep
Tom and Anabelle met on Memorial Day weekend while Annabelle was vacationing in San Diego from Brazil. They were engaged within eight months, married in a little more than a year. They assumed children would follow just as quickly, but years passed without any babies.
After seven years of trying, they started in vitro fertilization treatments. After a single embryo transfer, their son was born. Five embryos remained.
When their son was about 14 months old, Anabelle found out she was expecting again and was 12 weeks pregnant with their second son. What a wonder, given their previous struggles! 15 months after he was born, the Petersens found out Anabelle was almost 8 weeks pregnant with their daughter. The Petersens now had three children— and five frozen embryos who needed them to decide their future.
Tom began to research what they could do with their remaining embryos and discovered the Snowflakes® Embryo Adoption program.
Tom first presented the idea of using the Snowflakes program to Anabelle when their daughter was about a month old. She wasn’t ready to make that decision. One day, as Anabelle considered and prayed about the future of her remaining embryos, she felt that God gave her the answer she was seeking. “I believe I heard God telling me; the embryos are not yours, Anabelle. They are a gift from me!” This gave her the answer she was seeking and the peace she was craving. The couple agreed to place their remaining embryos for adoption and their journey towards finding a family for their embryos began.
In December, Tom and Anabelle received an e-mail with a possible match. The moment Anabelle started reading Bert and Kryna’s family profile she just knew this was the right match. Tom agreed.
When the adopting family traveled to San Diego for their first frozen embryo transfer, it was ’love at first sight. The Bert and Kryna welcomed their first adopted child, a son, the following year. When he was 16 months old they traveled again to visit Tom and Anabelle. The purpose of this trip was to introduce Anabelle and Tom to their son and to have a second FET. Their second adopted son was born in 9 months later. Tom and Anabelle were pleasantly surprised that their open adoption would be so sweet.
The adopting parents recently had their final transfer using the adopted embryos. They are expecting their third child in early 2017. Tom and Anabelle’s children say, “Wouldn’t it be so cool if they have a family just like us? Boy, boy, girl?” They will find that out soon!
The relationships developed between the two families have been a blessing for all. Anabelle explains, “I find so much peace in the fact that their sons are loved and are alive and well. Do I sometimes wish Tom and I could have parented them? Yes. But Bert and Kryna are fantastic parents and we couldn’t be happier.”
Who Will Receive My Embryos?
My husband and I were blessed with fraternal twins, a boy, and a girl, after our first in vitro cycle. We had nine remaining frozen embryos. When our twins were two, we felt we needed to face the hard decision of what to do with our remaining embryos. Then we heard about an embryo adoption program in California. We contacted the agency and started the paperwork and matching process for an adoptive family.
We chose an adoptive family who had struggled with infertility for nine years. They had the same morals and values we hold close to our family. They matched our criteria in every way. They also agreed to the same level of contact. We both wanted an open relationship, but not everyone does. You are matched with all criteria in mind.
Our adoptive family was able to achieve pregnancy on their first attempt, and now has one child who is almost five years old.
My husband and I have complete peace knowing we fulfilled the parental responsibility of our nine embryos. One child was born, but all nine were given a chance at life. We are so blessed to see how this situation was used to give another couple the desire of their heart.
Another Solution for Remaining Embryos
I always have known I wanted to adopt. In fact, after my first in vitro success and subsequent miscarriage, we attended an adoption seminar at Nightlight Christian Adoptions. I just wanted to open all doors. I admired friends of my husband’s family who fostered and adopted three children after their three biological children were nearly grown.
I admired friends of mine who, after struggling with infertility, adopted a baby boy and later adopted two more babies. I admired other friends of ours who also struggled with infertility. Rather than embark on the traditional adoption journey, they opted for embryo adoption. I’ll never forget her calling me to share the news that not only were they pregnant, but pregnant with twins! I had never heard of snowflake adoption until our friends went through it.
The IVF cycle that led to my children Clayton and Chloe’s birth was my third attempt at in vitro. We had 18 eggs, fertilized that day and all 18 became viable embryos according to our doctor. On day 5, transfer day, all 18 were still going strong. Two were transferred and Clayton Joseph and Chloe Grace were born. They were healthy and big and came home with us on Mother’s Day.
A mere 14 months later came the unexpected and wonderfully happy news that little Easton was on his way.
I said to my mom, “I think the best solution is to place our remaining embryos with another couple so they can fulfill their desire to be parents!”
I knew it was time to start exploring our chosen path: Snowflakes Embryo Adoption. By going through Snowflakes, my husband Ryan and I had complete control with who the embryos were placed with and likewise they, of course, had to agree to match with us as well. A lovely couple were presented to us. They shared a beautiful online album showcasing their life, their struggle, their families, and most importantly their love. We felt an immediate connection and knew they were going to be the parents of our embryos. They officially adopted our embryos a few months later and they transferred two embryos. She tested 8 days later with a perfectly POSITIVE blood test! Nine months later their precious baby girl arrived.
I wasn’t prepared for the rush of emotions I experienced upon learning the news of their pregnancy, So amazing. We did it. We gave these perfect little embryos a chance at life and this little girl was most definitely meant to be. For us, there was no other choice. I often look at Clayton and Chloe and wonder how they got to be the lucky two of eighteen that were chosen to be mine. How could we not give the others the same chance at life? Simple decision for us; difficult and unimaginable for others. The miracle of life is most amazing! Thank you to our adoptive family. You are a blessing to our family and the little miracle you carried inside you.
Lindsay and Rick’s Story
Lindsay and Rick first met at an engagement party for their mutual friends. They fell in love on the dance floor at the same friends’ wedding. In their wildest dreams, the couple never imagined they would struggle with infertility. After a year of trying, six failed IUI treatments, and medical costs piling up, they started to lose hope. Then Lindsay and Rick began to explore IVF. Coming to the conclusion that it would be their last chance to have a biological child, the couple decided to pursue this option. After selling their small business to cover the costs, they started on their first IVF cycle.
Five embryos were created and two were transferred. Miraculously, both embryos resulted in a pregnancy. Twin girls, Amelia and Olivia. Lindsay and Rick wanted to give their girls the best life possible. They decided not to try for more children, as they deemed it financially responsible to stop at two. The three remaining embryos were in frozen storage.
Making the decision of what to do with their remaining embryos was harder than the decision to pursue IVF. They had the choice of destroying the embryos, donating them to science for research, donating anonymously, or keeping them in frozen storage. Without a doubt, they knew they did not want to destroy the embryos. To Lindsay, it felt like an abortion. However, donating anonymously made the couple uncomfortable as well.
If they donated anonymously through their clinic, they might unwittingly run into their biological child one day and not even know it! After doing research, Rick found the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program. Snowflakes offered an open adoption option for their potential children, allowing them to choose the family they gave their embryos to. They liked the idea that their twins might be able to meet any biological siblings one day. Yes, Snowflakes was the right choice for them.
Lindsay and Rick wanted a particular type of family for their embryos—one similar to their own. Amazingly, they fell in love with the first adoptive family they matched with. The family had also been through unsuccessful IUIs, as well as failed IVF cycles and traditional adoption. Lindsay and Rick wanted nothing more than for their embryos to grow up with this family. After the adoption process was complete, all three embryos were transferred. Sadly, it was not successful. Lindsay was crushed when she learned the transfer failed. She wanted to give this adoptive mother a happy ending just like her own. Still, to this day, the couple remains in contact with the family.
Lindsay and Rick didn’t choose to give their embryos a chance at life for peace of mind. They chose to do this because, to them, it seemed selfish not to. Those embryos deserved life just as much as their girls did. The couple hopes their story will help other families struggling with the decision of what to do with their remaining embryos.
Eric & Cathy’s Story
Like many couples, during our courtship and early marriage we talked often of the day we would be parents. Children are a gift from God and we definitely wanted our quiver full! You can imagine our dismay after a year passed without any success. This turned into a seven-year journey of medical interventions.
Early on we considered adoption, but continued to pray to the Lord and ask Him to confirm His will for us. While on the Internet one day, I came across embryo adoption. I was excited to find that there might be an opportunity for us to not only adopt, but also carry the child. After discussing this option with our doctor, we were ready and eager to begin. Although we considered other agencies, we were impressed with the dignity that Nightlight Christian Adoptions brought to the process and the emphasis that they placed on the value of these little lives. At the end of 2006, I contacted them and began our paperwork.
In early 2007, we were so surprised and humbled that we had been selected by a couple to adopt their five embryos. We read through their profile and immediately felt a connection to them. After praying about the decision, we contacted Nightlight and let them know that we wanted to proceed.
Having gone through the embryo transfer in October 2007, we eagerly awaited to find out the results. I didn’t sleep well the night before my doctor’s appointment on November 12th. And at 5:00 that morning, I couldn’t wait any longer. I took a pregnancy test and to my amazement it came up positive for pregnancy. I dissolved into tears and woke Eric up to tell him we were expecting. This is one of the sweetest moments we have ever had in our marriage. We just couldn’t believe, after all these years, we were going to be parents. This was the answer to not only years of individual, but collective prayers.
My pregnancy was a wonderful experience, a truly happy time for us. It is amazing to witness the handiwork of God. On July 8th our beautiful baby daughter came into this world. The best day of our lives! As Eric says, “We’re smitten!” Although we thought we understood, we now realize that the emotions of love and protection that you feel when you hold your baby are truly overwhelming. There are still times we find ourselves in tears, simply in awe of Kaitlyn’s presence in our lives. She is our miracle!