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Embryo Adoption Stories

Marti Bailey always knew in her heart that she wanted children. Her body, however, wasn't in on the plan. "I always thought I'd be able to have children whenever I wanted to," Marti said. Both Baileys were devastated by their inability to have a child. On top of that, well-meaning people would tell Marti she'd probably get pregnant when she "quit trying." Then they discovered embryo adoption as a potential solution. Read more at

Rachael and Pete were hoping to have children, but they found out quickly having babies may not be as easy as they expected. Fertility treatments lead to the birth of their first son Samuel and then a devastating miscarriage. Instead of continuing down the path of fertility treatments, they decided adoption would be a better investment of their resources. They chose to apply with Generations Adoptions, now a division of Nightlight Christian Adoptions.

After completing their home study, they were approved for a domestic infant adoption. Then they waited…, waited..., and waited...

The waiting was very difficult, but while they waited, God was working in their hearts. “I had not been feeling ready to face the significant chances of losing children who did not survive the thawing process, a risk associated with embryo adoption. But over that year, I became convicted that taking serious emotional risks is sometimes an important part of answering the call to love one's neighbor as one's self,” Pete remembers. After a year, it was time to renew their home study, and they decided it was time to switch from domestic infant adoption to Nightlight's embryo adoption program, Snowflakes.

It took a few months to be matched with a placing parent who had five remaining embryos. The donor had read their family profile and selected them as a possible match! Rachael and Pete spent a weekend considering and praying fervently about this match. They decided their answer was, “yes!”

The couple completed the embryo adoption in October of 2015 and in December traveled to New York City for their first frozen embryo transfer. One of the two embryos thawed did not survive, but one did, resulting in the birth of their son Owen, Snowflake baby #487.

The relationship with their adoptive son’s placing parent at the outset managed by the Snowflakes staff. Over time both families have become open to more direct contact, and Rachael and Pete will meet her when they travel to New York for their next transfer.

People frequently ask Rachael, "What was it like being pregnant with your adopted child?" Her response, “Honestly, it was a whole lot like being pregnant with our biological son! I had a nurse at one doctor’s appointment get very confused as I was nursing Owen and telling her that my family medical history wasn't pertinent for him because he is adopted. We had one friend who commented, ‘Wow, this is very 21st-century stuff!’ It really is fun to get to explain Owen is adopted, but that I did give birth to him.”

Parenting Owen has been a lot like parenting Samuel, their biological son. Owen needs just as much directing, teaching and correcting as his brother did. And it’s such a privilege to be the parents to both of these boys, despite the different ways they joined our family. “It’s not DNA that makes a family, it a choice to love and unconditionally accept these children as our own.”

Rachael and Pete are so thankful for Nightlight Snowflakes embryo adoption program and the role that they have played in bringing these children into their family.

A Mission Viejo family now has two healthy boys because of embryo donation and adoption. Learn about the Maciborski's journey to parenthood. Read more at

Rebekah and Eric had both always dreamed of having children, so when they were given the news about their infertility problems, the two were devastated. However, embryo donation and adoption gave them the chance to live their dream—and now as proud parents of two beautiful little girls, they’re excited to tell you all about the gift of embryo adoption with their sweet Mother’s Day story. Watch the story on

"It's that dark circle in the middle," Timothy Cochran said from the living-room couch of the couple's home in Maryland, as his wife, Sarah, smiling broadly, held up the picture, a sonogram taken earlier in the day.

Sure enough, there was a small, dark oval in the middle of the static.

After years of heart-breaking frustrations as they tried again and again to have a child, the sonogram confirmed that Sarah was pregnant. One of the three embryos doctors had transferred from frozen storage into her womb three weeks earlier had taken hold.

Fertility treatments -- with a twist -- had finally worked.

The Cochrans had gone through a lengthy and relatively new process called "embryo adoption" to take possession of the embryos, which are the genetic offspring of another Maryland couple.

The Cochrans first learned of embryo adoption while listening to "Focus on the Family," the radio show of Dr. James Dobson, an evangelical Christian commentator.

By the time they decided to give it a try, they had already been through an epic struggle, to have children.

In 1998, doctors diagnosed Sarah with endometriosis, a condition in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus is found in other areas of the pelvic cavity. The excess tissue restricts blood flow to Sarah's ovaries, preventing her from producing healthy eggs.

Over the next several years, the Cochrans' attempts to have children through in vitro fertilization produced no results. They then decided to pursue traditional adoption, but before they finished the adoption process, Sarah became pregnant.

The surprise pregnancy also ended in heartbreak. Just before the due date, a kink in the umbilical cord cut off blood flow to the infant, who died during an emergency Caesarean section.

In 2004, after another unsuccessful round of IVF treatments, the couple paid a visit to the California headquarters of the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program, the agency mentioned on Dr. Dobson's show. After a two-hour consultation, they were convinced.

"We left knowing this was what God wanted us to do," Sarah said.

A Few Key Differences

Founded in 1997 by Nightlight Christian Adoptions, an agency that also arranges traditional adoptions, Snowflakes was the first of eight U.S. programs that currently arrange embryo adoptions.

Unlike traditional embryo donation, which is anonymous and only requires the couples to undergo medical screening and psychological counseling, Snowflakes requires adoptive couples to submit to more extensive screening similar to that required for traditional adoptions. This includes fingerprinting, background checks, visits by social workers, and infant CPR and parenting classes.

Both the donor and adoptive couples prepare in-depth profiles of themselves, including statements of religious beliefs and multiple photographs, which they use to choose each other.

The adoptive couples, like the Cochrans, must agree to forego selective reduction, a procedure where embryos are surgically removed from the uterine wall after transfer to prevent the development of multiple children. Doctors sometimes recommend the procedure to protect the health of the mother and the developing fetuses, but some religious conservatives consider it a form of abortion and tantamount to murder.

'Pre-born Children'

While Snowflakes stops short of saying it is immoral to destroy embryos for research, it is upfront about its philosophy on when life begins. The Snowflakes website calls embryos "pre-born children" and states that "when embryos are created, life begins."

The Cochrans agree with the view that embryos are living beings and that using them for research is trading one life for another.

"Dead things don't grow," Sarah said. "I would never ask someone else to let their child be killed so that my child might have a cure. I can't, in good conscience, respect someone who would."

As of this January, Snowflakes embryo adoptions had produced 99 children since the program began in 1997, according to Ms. Corcoran.

Source Embryo adoption: New twist to infertility treatment generates kids, Capital News Service. 4/13/2006.

Embryo Donation and Adoption has touched the lives of infertile couples everywhere.

In fact, today there are eight at least Embryo Adoption programs, along with over 200 fertility clinics with donation programs in the United States alone.

But there is one common thread between all of the families who have pursued this option: each owns a unique and inspiring story.

Chad and Kari Bonnema, from Grand Haven, Michigan, are certainly no exception. The couple's story is one of challenge, perseverance, and ultimate success.

The Bonnemas had been struggling with infertility for some time when they began looking into domestic adoption. They had already adopted one child through a local agency and were moving forward on adopting a second child when they heard about Embryo Adoption through a radio program which deals with family issues.

"It sounded like such a great option," said Kari. "But we had already started the process of our second adoption, so we thought, 'Well, maybe that's an option for our third child.'"

Throughout the process of domestic adoption, Kari felt the tug on her heartstrings of a strong desire: she wanted to experience the joys of pregnancy.

"We had a friend who was pregnant at the time and we kind of saw her going through that whole process," Kari said. "And I think my husband saw that and said, 'I really want that for you.'"

So the Bonnemas began to research more about Embryo Donation and Adoption, electing to work through a clinic donation program at The Fertility Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

In the fall of 2005, the Bonnemas received two donated embryos. But this first attempt at achieving a pregnancy was unsuccessful.

"We kind of started to feel like maybe this is going to be our family, two kids and that's it," said Chad. "And that would have been fine."

But once again, there was a feeling that they should give it another chance.

"One of the reasons we kept trying was that we wanted to give Kari that chance to experience pregnancy," said Chad. "That life experience is a big deal."

So, three years later, the Bonnemas elected to try again, once more receiving two donated embryos in December of 2008. Once again neither embryo took, and a pregnancy never occurred.

But the Bonnemas weren't about to give up yet in their quest to achieve a pregnancy.

Just a month after the second unsuccessful transfer, the Bonnemas received three more donated embryos. Deciding to try one final time, the couple had their doctor transfer all three embryos into Kari.

"It was a little nerve-racking at times, especially knowing that if you put in three embryos you have to be ready for the possibility of triplets," said Chad.

But this time all of the Bonnemas' patience paid off as two of the embryos resulted in pregnancy. In October of 2009, Chad and Kari gave birth to a twin baby boy and girl.

"We hadn't known anyone who had done this before," said Kari. "It was really an eye-opener for people. Not many people had heard of it - we hadn't even heard of it. But now we'll tell anybody about it. We love to share the idea with people and let them know that it works."

Despite the long and sometimes challenging process, Kari said she and her husband are now strong proponents of Embryo Donation and Adoption.

"I would tell people to give it a try," she said. "Yeah, it took us three times, but how will you know if you don't even try? When I look back, there was always a part of me that wanted to be pregnant. Plus, these embryos wouldn't have had a chance to live otherwise."

Chad said that he would encourage men to consider the idea of Embryo Adoption, even if it sounds a bit foreign at first.

"I strongly recommend this process," he said. "There is nothing like the beauty of seeing your wife go through pregnancy."

Since nearly one in every seven couples struggles with some type of fertility issue, Embryo Adoption is likely to only keep growing more and more popular in the future.

For all of these couples, as the Bonnemas proved, this unique option offers another chance at pregnancy.

"For the couple out there that has fertility problems and feels like there is no hope, this is definitely hope," he said. "We've been there before with the difficulties and struggles. This was just what we needed to have a family."

In a family squabble posted online this week, Whittier octuplets mom Nadya Suleman seemed completely taken aback when her mother said she should have put the frozen embryos from her fertility treatments up for adoption rather than have them all implanted.

Although Suleman, a 33-year-old divorced mother of 14 children under the age of 7, pondered the idea for a second, she quickly dismissed it for herself.

But for many infertile couples, embryo adoption is a viable alternative - particularly for those who were able to have children through in vitro fertilization, but don't want to destroy the embryos leftover from their treatment.

That's where Nightlight Christian Adoption's Snowflakes program comes in.

The program arranges for families to donate frozen fertilized eggs to infertile couples who undergo the same home study and background checks that domestic adoptive parents would.

The name "Snowflakes" comes from the idea that the program deals with frozen and unique embryos.

In the summer of 2007, Sabrina and Chris Garcia received some heartbreaking news: they were not able to achieve a pregnancy.

Like the thousands of couples in the United States who struggle with infertility, this Colorado couple began researching all of their adoption options.

They looked into the traditional alternatives: domestic adoption, foster adoption, as well as international adoption. But in the end, the couple decided to go in a very different (and life-changing) direction -Embryo Adoption.

Embryo Adoption is the process in which couples who have remaining embryos from In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) are able to donate those embryos to another infertile couple to use in their own attempt to achieve pregnancy.

The result - for hundreds of couples like the Garcias - has been not only the joy of pregnancy, but also the unique chance to give birth to their adopted child.

"When we found out we couldn't get pregnant, my mother gave me a book on adoption from Focus on the Family and it mentioned this idea of Embryo Adoption," said Sabrina. "I was wondering, 'How have I never heard of this before?' When I found out I could give birth to a child through Embryo Adoption, it was absolutely mind-blowing. I fell to my knees. It was beyond an answer to prayer."

After researching multiple Embryo Adoption programs online, the couple found the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption program in Southern California.

Operated by Nightlight Christian Adoptions, Snowflakes was the first Embryo Adoption program in the world, established in 1997. To date, over 220 children have been born through the Snowflakes program nationwide.

Snowflakes works to match an adopting family with a donor couple, assists with all necessary legal work, and arranges the transportation of the embryos directly to the adopting couples' clinic. For the Garcias, it seemed like the perfect fit.

"Everyone at Snowflakes was just fantastic," said Sabrina. "Like any adoption, there are going to be curves and bumps, nothing is going to be perfectly easy. But they did a great job of putting us at ease throughout the process."

Today, there are at least eight Embryo Adoption agencies in the United States as well as over 200 fertility clinic embryo donation programs. Though only a fraction are currently available for adoption, there are an estimated 500,000 embryos in frozen storage in the U.S. alone, according to a 2009 survey of clinics and cryobanks by the Embryo Adoption Awareness Center.

These embryos offer hope for couples like the Garcias who feel hopeless in the face of infertility. While Embryo Adoption is not for everyone, it does offer another alternative for the couple who deeply desires the experience of pregnancy.

In May of 2009, the Garcias' journey came to completion as their Embryo Adoption resulted in the birth of their baby girl, Emma Grace.

"This is exactly what I was waiting for," Sabrina said. "I always prayed and prayed that I could have a child. God answered those prayers - just not in the way I expected him to."

For a woman out there who has always dreamed of having an opportunity to experience pregnancy, this is it. Embryo Adoption is it.

Bill was diagnosed with adult-onset Cystic Fibrosis in 1999 when he was 32 years old, approximately a year and a half before we got married. We knew that sometimes the disease could cause infertility in men. CF is a genetic disease than can be passed on if both parents are carriers. I was tested before we were married and learned that I was not a carrier. At that point in time that was about as far as we went with regard to thinking about starting a family.

We got married in October 2000 and shortly thereafter we saw an infertility specialist to find out what our options were for having children… When we got in the car after the appointment we shed many tears together as we realized there seemed to be no way for us to have children the way that we thought God intended for it to happen. There were several options for us to have our own genetic children but each in its own way seemed inconsistent with God's Word and His plan for our lives.

In the spring of 2005 we both felt God leading us to adopt a child. One day after work Bill got in his car and the first thing he heard on the radio was "Let's talk about adoption." Focus on the Family was playing on the radio and Rod Stoddart was being interviewed on the Snowflake Embryo Adoption Program. Bill came home that night and told me all about what he had heard and we spend that evening researching the website and got very excited about the possibilities. Our desire to have children was so strong, but we wanted to put God first. Whatever path we chose we wanted to make sure it was right in God's eyes and His personal will for us. Bill had been praying that somehow I could experience being pregnant with a child, though there seemed no way this could possibly happen at the time. The Snowflake program seemed to allow all these things. Aside from miraculously answering our prayer, the process not only respected life, but it saved life. It was the perfect choice for us.

The next three years God caused us to grow closer to Him. We had several failed attempts and even a miscarriage after carrying a baby for five weeks. We were comforted to know that these little lives would spend eternity with our Father in heaven but it was very hard emotionally. I can remember saying to God that He was enough and that He had already done everything for us and given us so much we did not deserve. But we still felt the door was open… that this was God's will for our lives. So we tried again.

On April 5, 2008, God blessed us with a miracle named Daniel. He was created in God's own image and by His hand. Daniel's genetic parents have been used by God to bless us in such an incredible way. We continue to pray that God would return this blessing on them and their family.

Thank you, Nightlight for everything that you have done for us. What an incredible blessing you have been in our lives. And we are so thankful to Kevin and Melinda for donating their embryos and having such strong faith. I am happy to say that we have been able to share our story with so many people and it is truly amazing how many lives have been touched by this precious gift from God. When I think of baby Daniel's journey into this world, it brings tears of joy to my eyes! He is so special and we love him more than words can say.

Adopting Parents: Bill & Patty

by Marlene Strege
The first adoptive mother of a frozen embryo.

Horton Hears a Who is among our daughter Hannah's favorite books, and she revels in reciting its recurring theme, that a person's a person, no matter how small. Hannah is only nine, yet she understands those words better than most. In a very real sense, they apply to her.

My husband, John, and I adopted Hannah when she was an embryo. She was the first of what are now known as Snowflake babies.

Before Hannah entered our lives, we underwent infertility treatments. Then, in 1997, our physician informed us that I was no longer producing eggs, a medical condition known as premature ovarian failure. I was devastated. The physician recommended that we use donor eggs. We were uncomfortable with that solution. So I asked the physician whether any embryos were available to adopt. That question had never been posed to him, though frequently, after couples have concluded their infertility treatments and their families have been completed, frozen embryos remain.

We were curious as to what God would think about this option. We prayed for His wisdom and felt encouraged to seek the counsel of several trusted sources. So we contacted Focus on the Family as well as three Lutheran pastors. Dr. James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, called us a week after receiving our letter. Dobson told us he had never been asked this question, that before he could respond he had to seek his own counsel on the matter. Ultimately, everyone with whom we made contact confirmed what we already knew: that embryos are human lives and they need to be adopted in the event that families responsible for their creation are unable to use them.

The unanimous conclusion was that embryo adoption was honorable before God, inasmuch as we were not going outside the marriage bond to create life. These lives had already been created. We would be providing a home for children, similar to any other adoption. Through my body, I would be providing oxygen, nutrients, a warm place to grow, and love for my baby—the same requirements for a child outside the womb.

At that point, we contacted a long-time friend Ron Stoddart, the president of Nightlight Christian Adoptions in Fullerton, California. Ron told us about the organization's domestic and international adoption programs, after which I asked him the question that would change our lives (and his) forever: Can we adopt an embryo? Ron, to his credit, did not flinch. Instead, he steadfastly began to explore the possibility.

In the meantime, John and I took the Stoddarts to a Christmas play during which an actress uttered a line that is now forever etched in my memory: “In the intricate design of each flake of snow, we find the Creator reflecting the individual human heart.” My heart nearly stopped! These embryos - like snowflakes are frozen, unique, never again to be recreated. Ron had a similar epiphany when, at the intermission, he said, "We now have the name for our new program, the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption program."

In the decade since the program began, more than 175 babies have been born though this program and there are many more on the way.

The program matches families that have remaining embryos with adopting couples. The adoptive couple completes all its state's requirements for adoption. The placing family, meanwhile, relinquishes the children and parenthood. Each family provides a precious gift to the other. The placing family gives the gift of children and parenthood to a longing, loving couple. The adoptive family in turn provides a solution to another couple's agonizing dilemma; what to do with their remaining embryos.

Once a match is made and the paperwork is completed, the embryos are transported to the adoptive family's clinic. The mother's womb is prepared to receive the embryos, which are then transferred. No tissue or blood-matching is required. Any woman is capable of carrying any embryo. Sadly, not every embryo survives the thawing or implantation process. It is a reminder that God is the Creator of families; only He decides which children continue to fulfill their gift of life and which He calls home.

"For so very long, Keith and I tried to get pregnant. It became painfully evident it wasn't going to work.

We looked into the in-vitro process but were discouraged by the uncertainty coupled with the enormous expense. Researching on the internet, we discovered the potential of Embryo Adoption. We learned of the great success this option was providing couples like us. Our hopes were renewed. We then linked up to the Snowflakes website, an embryo adoption agency that matched us up with a donating couple--the perfect, most wonderful family. The process was thorough, and in fairly short order, our hopes came true. We were pregnant and gave birth to our precious Samantha. We are so thankful for the embryo adoption option--it was truly the perfect solution for our family."

June 12, 2009


This is written to share our story of struggling with infertility and ultimately our positive experience with Embryo Adoption, to offer hope to those also dealing with infertility, and to encourage couples to consider Embryo Adoption which gives the chance for a child to be born that otherwise would never be given the opportunity to live.


My wife and I were married at the relatively late age of 40. We immediately started trying to have a child but to no avail. We tried for two to three years without success. In retrospect, God was getting us ready for Embryo Adoption. I was a person who really never would have considered adoption. I didn't want to raise someone else's child for many reasons. I didn't want to have to be responsible for any of the environmental effects from a year or two of influence that another set of parents would have had on my child, and I really had doubts as to whether I could love a child that was not biologically mine.

We also had a desire to have our own child and find out what our own unique creation would look like. Additionally, being a mixed race couple (Caucasian and Southeast Asian), if we were going to consider adoption we were torn over whether to adopt a Caucasian or Asian baby.


We sought the help of an infertility specialist in early 2005 and shortly after, at his recommendation Valarie was treated for Endometriosis. Our doctor told us that each unassisted attempt at pregnancy after that had a single digit chance of success at our age and suggested that we try Inter Uterine Insemination (IUI) in which the wife is given hormones to stimulate her egg development and release, and then the husband's sperm is introduced into her uterus at the right time in a 24 hour window to try to increase the chances of fertilization. We made several unsuccessful attempts at getting pregnant through IUI all of which takes you on an emotional rollercoaster ride of hope and disappointment.

Our next option was In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) which involves giving the wife drugs to increase egg development, harvesting the eggs, fertilizing them in a dish with the husband's sperm, grading the embryos after a day, implanting the ones that grade the best, and freezing the ones that don't grade as well (i.e. the remaining embryos).

We never got comfortable trying the traditional IVF approach because of the grading and the option of destroying (incinerating) or donating the remaining embryos to science (i.e. Stem Cell Research). We decided that if we did try IVF that we would only fertilize as many eggs as we intended to transfer (i.e. not more than 3-4 eggs) as opposed to harvesting and fertilizing all the eggs that develop which most people do. However, we never had adequate egg production to try IVF so it turned out to be a moot point. Toward the end of these trials the doctor looked at Valarie and said, “Everything looks good except egg quality, and we can't do anything about that. I wish you had come to see me before you were 38.” That's when it really set in just how hopeless the situation was. We were incredibly sad. Our lack of success weighed heavy on both of us, but more so on Valarie.

Somewhere in the middle of this Valarie took a job at the preschool at our church. In her classroom she had children age 1-1 ½ years old. This only made her want children all that much more. I somehow felt that if God wanted me to be a father he would work it out. However, I was somewhat resigned to the fact that it might not happen. Maybe this was going to be the punishment for the sins of my past.

Other Options

We considered a Donor Egg procedure whereby a female donor is given drugs to stimulate egg development. The eggs are then harvested and would be fertilized by me in an IVF procedure. That just never felt right. In selecting who the donor would be and what a child that was biologically half mine and half theirs might look like the whole thing felt wrong. And it did not seem right to pay a fee for that service. We also had to consider the impact on Valarie of raising a child that would be biologically mine with another woman. It seemed like scientific adultery.

The whole time we were trying the IUI procedures and wrestling with IVF/Donor Egg options we kept getting signs about Adoption. Whether it was that small still voice that was speaking to us, or a billboard about adoption that never had been there before, or a friend mentioning out of the blue that his sister was adopted, we felt like God was leading us to adoption.

We pursued International and Domestic adoption but for whatever reasons God kept closing doors in that area. Whether it was age limitations, US Citizenship issues, or length of time married there seemed to always be a reason that precluded us from those options.

Had it not been for all of these trials we would never have been ready for Embryo Adoption. I truly believe this was God's plan all along but he had to get us to a place where we were ready to consider Embryo Adoption. We never would have been prepared for Embryo Adoption had we not been through all the trials and closed doors mentioned above.

Embryo Adoption

We first heard about Embryo Adoption from our fertility doctor. Valarie found some information about it on the internet on an adoption website. As we learned more about Embryo Adoption it looked like a good option for us. Here is how it works:

Couples who have been through an IVF procedure transfer some of the embryos created in a dish. These embryos are 1-3 days old at the time and are a cluster of cells about the size of a pin head. Those couples have four options for handling the leftover embryos: They can leave them in a frozen state indefinitely in which case they will eventually expire; they can thaw them and have them destroyed (incinerated); they can donate them to be used for stem cell research (in which case they are destroyed); or they can donate them for adoption.

There are approximately 500,000 frozen embryos in the U.S. that can be adopted if the biological parents choose that life giving option [EDITORIAL NOTE: According to 2002 Rand study 88% of embryos in frozen storage are still being considered for use in family building by the people who created them. It is estimated that no more than one-fifth of the remaining embryos are potentially available for donation to another family]. Of course like other adoptions you have to go through a home study by an adoption agency to be approved to adopt, and in the case of an open adoption, you have to prepare a brief personal profile to let the biological parents know enough about you to approve the adoption. Unlike a traditional adoption it is not legally considered an adoption. It is currently considered by the courts as a transfer of property with the biological parents surrendering all legal rights to the child.

Naturally we had several concerns: We were concerned that the child would not look like us because we would have to choose between a Caucasian and Asian baby. That was overcome when we contacted our agency and found out that they had several mixed race couples who had donated embryos. We were concerned that we would not love the child like we would our own. That was overcome by talking to other couples who had adopted. We were concerned about the rights of the biological parents. That was overcome by learning that there were no rights and no direct contact was necessary if we chose only contact through the agency. We were concerned that we might be buying a baby and encouraging others to make more embryos just to make a profit. That was overcome when we learned that the donating couple does not make any money at all.

We also believed that it was a best option considering all the alternatives (IUI, donor egg, traditional adoption) for the following reasons:

- It saves a life that has already been created instead of creating another life

- The adoptive Mother carries the child and has the opportunity to experience pregnancy and bond with the baby in her womb

- One adoptive parent doesn't have to feel like it is the other parent's child but not theirs as with an egg donor

- No second guessing about the child's exposure to a previous environment

- Each embryo transfer had a 42% or 46% chance of pregnancy vs a single digit chance with each IUI procedure [EDITORAL NOTE: A 2007 study published in the American Society for Reproductive Medicine's (ASRM) Fertility and Sterility demonstrated a 35% pregnancy success rated using frozen embryos. (September 2007, Vol. 88, pS267)]

- Cost: it's much cheaper than traditional adoption. As a practical matter most people do not have unlimited funds to keep trying fertility treatments

In January 2008, we made the decision to adopt the embryos of two Asian/Caucasian families. Only one embryo from one of the families survived the thawing process (these embryos had been frozen for a long time), and the other family's embryo that had been frozen for a shorter period of time also made it through the thawing process. In total we transferred two embryos (one from each couple).

Becoming Parents

We had a positive pregnancy test two weeks later. Valarie was very excited but I was holding my breath the whole time not allowing myself to get excited because I didn't want to be disappointed. I was praying not to lose the babies. I was afraid of how Valarie would react if we lost them after going through all of this and getting this close to a successful pregnancy. I can't explain the feeling I had when we went for the 5 week ultrasound and saw a heartbeat. However, there was sadness too because one of the embryos was not developing as it should. It turned out that was the one that had been frozen for the longer period of time. One of the reasons we have such passion to promote embryo adoption is that those 500,000 embryos are in a race against time to be adopted before they expire. [EDITORIAL NOTE: Children have been born from embryos that have been frozen for more than 12 years. At this point in time, scientists have not discovered a 'shelf-life' for frozen embryos.] Bethany was born on September 30th, 2008. They say that a woman becomes a mother when she gets pregnant, and a man becomes a father when the baby is born. I fully understand that now. I loved her from the minute I saw her. What an awesome feeling. What a life changing feeling. What a huge responsibility.

I cannot imagine loving her more if she was our biological child. I feel really good every time I look at her knowing that we saved her life. I can't imagine not giving her a chance at life. She cried for 2 months every night from 8-12 and the whole time we were just thankful to God that we had her. I truly believe that God intended for us to be her parents from the start but He just had to take us through all the other trials before we were ready for her. We consider ourselves truly blessed to have her in our lives. We thank God every day for taking us through all of this and bringing her to us. Bethany is such a beautiful child and she has brought us so much joy. Sometimes when we look at her we realize how close she came to not being born if God had not brought us together. Having Bethany has given us a great passion for all the other frozen embryos out there, and it breaks our hearts thinking about how they are just waiting for their chance to live.

Closing Thoughts

There are many differing opinions on Embryo Adoption out there today. Here are my thoughts. I think it is a wonderful thing to give these children a chance at life. You can feel good about not creating additional embryos that may not have a chance at life as in IVF. You can feel good that it's not been done for the wrong reason of making a profit as in using a donor egg. I think there is an issue with IVF today in that we need responsible IVF. Responsible being defined as not creating more embryos than you intend to have as children or put up for adoption. Octomom is an example of this. The underlying problem is that she created too many embryos in the first place.

It will be very difficult to encourage responsibility in the IVF arena, but we can make a difference by adopting the leftover embryos that are suspended in time just waiting to be given a chance to experience life. I can't tell you the joy and satisfaction I feel from becoming a parent in this way and I encourage you to consider taking the same path to parenthood.

Adopting Parents: Keith & Amy

"We both knew that once we were married we wanted to have a family, but we also knew that it would be difficult to conceive our own child due to Steve's paralysis. Kate, though single, had considered traditional adoption before we ever met, and Steve was comfortable with that route as well.

For a variety of reasons, we decided that we didn't want to go through the IVF process. About three years into our marriage we plunged into the traditional adoption process, and a few months later we heard about Nightlight Christian Adoptions and Snowflakes for the first time on a Focus on the Family radio broadcast.

It took us about a year to get comfortable with the concept of adopting someone else's frozen embryo, but since the traditional adoption process had not yet resulted in a child, we eventually decided to try to adopt a frozen embryo. Kate was very excited, as she really wanted to experience pregnancy and childbirth.

Initially, we were matched with a couple from Maryland and their six embryos, but none of the embryos survived the thawing process. We really mourned the loss of those tiny frozen babies and the missed opportunity for Kate to be pregnant.

Because of our ages (both of us were now well into our forties) we knew we needed to get back on the proverbial horse soon, so after about three month we contracted Nightlight to seek another match. Within a month we were matched with five embryos.

What a glorious day it was when, two weeks after the embryo transfer, we found out Kate was pregnant! Our daughter is now a healthy, happy, smart, energetic bundle of joy who loves life and greets every day as the gift that it really is. We are so blessed and proud to have her as our daughter, and we highly recommend Nightlight to anyone who is looking for alternatives to IVF or traditional adoption.

Adopting Parents: Steve & Kate

Embryo Donation Stories

Ten-month-old Ashley is a giggling, curious baby. Her mom said she's a miracle, a child she carried in her womb, who isn't genetically related to her or her husband. After discovering they couldn't have their own biological children, Samantha and Jordan Fife used traditional, costly adoptions for their two older girls, Michaela, 6, and Heidi, 3.

When the Brush Prairie, WA couple decided they wanted a third child, Samantha searched on Google for "adoption" and stumbled onto an unusual option.

Read and watch the entire story at FOX 12

During in vitro fertilization, the egg and sperm are joined in the lab and then the formed embryo is transferred to the woman in hopes of a pregnancy. But there are always extra embryos left over. A Houston couple arranged for the adoption of their frozen embryos.

Four year olds Kylie and Mackenzie and 6-year-old Camden are the much loved children of Carrie and JJ Hill. They are the product of years of infertility treatments, including in vitro fertilization.

"Once you've been through infertility you truly understand what other people are feeling," said Carrie Hill who struggled with infertility.

Across the country in Charlotte, North Carolina, Kara and Charlie BonDurant have 8 month old twins.

Emily and Audrey have a close resemblance to Kylie and Mackenzie because 8-month-old twins, born to the BonDurants are biological siblings of the 4-year-old Houston twins. They were adopted as frozen embryos. Watch and read the story at KTRK-TV

Sitting in the living room, chatting as their daughters Bobbie, four, and 18-month-old Esther read books together, Jodi Dillworth and Rachel Victorin look like any other young mums on a typical playdate.

But the reality is far more complicated.

Jodi and Rachel are not related, but their daughters are. They're sisters.

And while Rachel is Esther’s mum, Jodi is in fact the toddlers’ biological mother after having a procedure called embryo adoption where a woman is impregnated with an embryo donated by a couple who've undergone IVF.

Read the entire story, including how the family's preferences for contact changed from simply being sending letters and photos to having regular playdates, at Mirror News.

We donated the eight frozen embryos remaining from our fertility treatments. We'd 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). As a result of the Snowflake Embryo Adoption program, we also have two healthy genetic children, a boy and a girl (twins), that are a few months old and being raised by their wonderful parents two time zones away.

The circumstances and decision for each family is 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 outright with no say in the choice of parents, or 2) making them available for adoption through the Snowflakes Program. Doing nothing or donating the embryos for science was not an acceptable alternative for us.

Of course another choice would be to have gone through the procedure again myself. With the first ultrasound of our twins, the doctor asked me if I'd heard of Vanishing Twin Syndrome. He said one of our girls would not survive—it was a long, hard pregnancy. At birth, one twin was 2 lbs. and her sister was almost 6 lbs. Our smallest baby was in the NICU for over a month with various setbacks and when we brought her home, she weighed not quite three pounds. She had to be fed every other hour and once they removed the nasal gastric tube, it took about an hour to feed her.

With another new baby and a toddler not quite two years old, this was exhausting duty. Being in our early 40s, we didn't have the same energy that we did when we were twenty.

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 give the embryos up 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, friends’ 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. It was hard to select parents. We didn't find someone just like us only younger - but we did find a couple that had been married for seven years and were suffering with infertility. They were in their late twenties/early thirties, very loving, caring, and Christian. 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 first reading of the letter from the prospective adopting couple, signing of the adoption papers, and then learning that they were successfully expecting twins, we prayed that they would have an uneventful pregnancy and that no harm would come to the mother or children. We prayed that the children would survive the thaw 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.

The children were born healthy, though a few weeks early. 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.

We had written into our adoption papers that the children be baptized and that we be advised when this took place. A few months after they were born, we asked the agency if they knew whether anything was planned. They gently asked the parents about it at our request and we were amazed how it turned out. We ended up flying out to California and met the parents and the babies. An agency counselor joined us for lunch. Despite apprehension on our side, and probably theirs too, it went very well. The next night, the parents held a special baptism service at their home church which normally baptizes young adults, not babies. It was attended by their closest friends, family and me and had special music, a slide show of the babies, a few words and the baptism. The new parents went to an extraordinary effort and we will never forget their generous kindness, warm hugs, and thankfulness.

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 God and 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.

Donating Parents: Richard & Deborah

Larry and Sharon from California told us "There's a fraternity of couples who've all been through infertility. They understand this path: the doctors, the pain, the emotion....It's incredible to receive an embryo from another family, and get to become pregnant, then deliver a child."

Adopting Parents: Larry and Sharon

What were your thoughts when you heard about Embryo Donation and Adoption?

(DM) A friend sent me a prayer book called Joyful Mothers to Be. Since many of the moms referred to in the book were pregnant with IVF babies, the back page contained information about the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption program. After our twins Brady and Hannah died at 5 months gestation, we still had seven remaining embryos from our IVF. I naturally conceived our daughter Emmaus six weeks after they died. When she was born I would nurse her and read Joyful Mothers to Be. I knew it was a possibility but I didn't feel that this was the right time to place our babies [the frozen embryos] for adoption. I thought that if God put pressure on us we would hear Him shouting to place them ASAP!

(AM) To accurately answer, I have to first say that our first infertility specialist was less than satisfactory and not very kind. He never offered embryo adoption to us and told us basically to give up on having children! Amazingly that same week three different people told us about our current infertility specialist. He introduced us to embryo adoption. I remember him handing us a brochure and as soon as I looked at it I knew what we were supposed to do. It was automatic for me. Looking back at the way everything transpired, I see how divinely orchestrated it was. I heard the Lord's voice and had certainty about how to proceed. We were offered another program, but chose to go with the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption program.

What were your fears or anxieties about going through such a program?

(DM) My fear honestly was never being able to see this baby boy grow-up. Never receiving any pictures, never having updates on his wonderful, blessed life. My husband's fear is me, falling love with the baby. I told him that it was too late. It happened already! The 7 babies [frozen embryos] we donated were conceived in love. They were prayed for. They never belonged to us, but to God. That mommy love is still there, regardless of their size.

(AM) My fears and anxieties were that it just wouldn't work. But that's where that big voice had to be trusted. I think with any adoption, you also fear that the donating parents will want the baby back.

When you received the profile, how did you know this was the right match?

(DM) It was all God for us. It was sense of calm. Like this was the perfect mommy, daddy to raise this beloved child. God chose us, and God chose them. What has happened between them and us has first passed through God's loving hands.

(AM) We prayed about this. Of course, what was there not to love about this beautiful family? I think once you read about the other person's story, you cannot help but become involved in some way. Eventually, it's as though it's one big extended family or sorts. And everyone just wants the best possible outcome. Both sides have immense gains to be had. Ultimately, we just waited for peace in our decision to pursue this with this family.

When you (AM) were chosen by (DM) to adopt these embryos how did you feel?

(AM) Humbled. We both cried and felt very, very humble. We also felt blessed and loved by the Lord to bring such a huge blessing to us. Gratitude doesn't even begin to describe our feelings towards them.

(DM) when you heard about the (AMs) pregnancy what were your thoughts and feelings?

(DM) I was completely overjoyed! I yelled to our children, They're pregnant! They kept saying, "Who is pregnant?"We were so saddened by the loss of one or two [of the embryos], but we have prayed for the baby continuously. Overjoyed is an understatement. We have traveled down that infertility path for 16 years. Every child we have had, living here or in God's arms, has been a struggle to get here with us. So we know the heartache of not being able to have a child, or bring one home.

When doubts or fears came throughout the process, how did you deal with them?

(DM) I guess one of my fears is about the baby wondering about us, mostly about his genetic siblings, because there are 5 of them. But other than that there is a true sense of calm. God blessed us with a child whom we conceived naturally after the twins died (the doctor said this was virtually impossible). If we had not conceived our daughter spontaneously, we would have used the remaining embryos. It's thrilling to know that one more couple knows the complete and awesome love that comes with loving a child.

(AM) We certainly have had scares during the pregnancy. I had bleeding early on. We had transferred 3 embryos in order to give them all a chance at life. It is our belief that 2 implanted and then we lost one, hence the bleeding. We prayed. We cried and we pestered the doctors a lot! They were wonderful, and we believe were placed in our path by God to help us through it all. It was high anxiety time and all you can do is wait and believe that Gods will is going to be done. I am also blessed to have my very best friend as my husband. We talked about all of our fears openly and prayed. Talking about fears can dispel them quite effectively. Then you have to let go and let God be in control.

What were the most frustrating times of this process?

(DM) Because the twins were born at 5 months their facial features were small. The twins and this baby all came from the same retrieval so were anxiously anticipating seeing what our twins would have looked like. Whats also frustrating is conflicting emotions, bittersweet emotions. I did not anticipate feelings of overwhelming confusion. I know without a doubt we do not desire another child. So we know this is the right decision. But to know that there is one more child out there who will look like our 5 living children& it sort of sucks the breath out of me.

(AM) The most difficult times for both of us probably had to do with taking all of the medications to prepare my uterus for the embryo transfers. Once pregnant, you continue to take them for several months. They are not pleasant! They are high does of hormones, which taken for an extended period of time can make you think you are going to lose it! You can tell you are not yourself, but you cannot change it. Its PMS to the max! The other thing that was very difficult for us was when the first 2 embryos we adopted, from another family, did not survive the thawing process. It was very painful. We grieved, not only for ourselves, but for the other family as well. We had to accept this, but it was not easy.

What are your feelings about the pending arrival of the baby? How do you share these with friends or family? How do they support you?

(DM) My friends who have gone through the grieving process with us about Grace (she died from a hole in her diaphragm) and Brady and Hannahs death, have been wonderfully supportive. It doesn't matter what our families think because this is what we truly believe God wanted for us. How can we choose to keep our embryos frozen when there are couples who desire a child or children?

(AM) We are so excited for our baby boy to arrive! We love him so much already and now just want him to be well and happy. I do have some sadness over the ending of this pregnancy. For nine months I have carried him and taken care of him. Every time he moves, I am filled with joy. I will never feel as though he is not our son. He is part of me, and therefore, a part of my husband. This is the amazing blessing of this type of adoption. It's simply a miracle! We are also apprehensive, just hoping to be good parents for him. I understand this is a normal feeling for new parents! We have read a lot and plan to continue to learn everything we can to be the most effective loving parents we can be.

We stay current with friends and family via phone, email, or one on one conversations. Everyone at our jobs stays on top of things. I am fortunate to work with a couple of people who will be more like the baby's Aunts than friends. They have even given us a baby shower! They are very supportive and attentive.

What advice can you give to parents just starting this process, to help them overcome their fears, doubts or worries and begin to move forward?

(DM) This is a hard one. I'd say pray, pray, pray!

(AM) Trust yourself and the Lord. Research and read all you can. We called our agency and doctor frequently with questions before we proceeded. Talk to others who have been through the process if possible.

These mothers enjoy emailing with one another and watching this child grow, each in their own special way.

Jerry and LeAnne found hope in embryo adoption. They said, " love them so much that you are actually willing to give them up for more love. You do love them, but I am willing to let them go. Because you know that they're going to go to a family that's going to love them, just like you."

Donating Parents: Jerry and LeAnne

Donating 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!

We agreed we were done now having children, yet I didn't feel we were finished--what to do with our 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! 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. The adoptive process enabled us to match with the adopting couple to ensure a loving, secure home.

Today we can't imagine anything greater. The adopting couple are 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."

Donating Parents: Kurt and Robin