May 22, 2013

The basics and perils of in vitro fertilization were covered in Dr. Lamb’s article [on pages 6-7 of LifeDate]. As he indicated, inherent in the normal process of in vitro is the issue of what to do with embryos not used-little frozen boys and girls God wants to call as His own. 

One life-affirming option is to rescue those children already frozen (something parents should never do) through embryo (“snowflake”) donation and adoption. To those looking to adopt, embryo adoption offers an alternative to traditional adoption, which many hopeful parents find very expensive and frustrating.

One such couple is Andrea and Scott who have struggled with infertility. They tried in vitro, but the embryos were not viable. They  also looked to adopt from traditional sources (foster care, domestic infant programs, international), but the doors kept closing.

Andrea and Scott are church youth workers. Eventually, at a conference, they made the acquaintance of a Presbyterian minister to whom they poured out their pain and confusion—who happened to have a sister who was a leader in IVF technology. She sent Andrea and Scott to the National Embryo Donation Center in Knoxville, Tennessee. Andrea is now pregnant with twins due later this summer! Andrea and Scott sat down for an interview. Here are excerpts.

Why did you choose embryo adoption? The doctor recommended it because it was a chance to be pregnant and have a family ¼ We look at embryo adoption as a win/win situation. A chance for us to become parents and a chance for the embryos to be born and live.

How has this made your faith stronger? The way we met our doctor who eventually referred us to embryo adoption was definitely God’s hand ¼ When we realized that God was working through this situation, it gave us hope for a family ¼ No matter what happens, we are thankful for the opportunity to become parents through embryo adoption.

How does the embryo adoption process work? We had to do a home study just like any other adoption ¼ We were given a list of donor characteristics that we could choose from such as hair color, interests, education, etc. and then that list was narrowed to five donor couples from which we got more information to make a final choice. Genetic parents and adopting parents can choose either open or anonymous adoption. We chose anonymous, but in open embryo adoption, genetic parents can choose contact ¼ Within a couple of months after our home study was complete, we were ready to go ahead with the implantation.

What is the physical process? To achieve good implantation in the uterus, the right time has to be determined by reviewing a woman’s cycle, then estrogen and progesterone are taken to simulate the pregnancy ¼ Adopting parents are given three attempts to have a live birth.

What are your emotions now as you wait for the children to be born? We are very excited to be parents ¼ We have had so many struggles with infertility that we can handle the uncertainty. God has prepared us ¼ These children needed a home and family like any other child. Going through this whole procedure has given us a new perspective on the value of life ¼ It is an amazing process to go through—to see those embryos and now to see the ultrasounds of the children.

What about the future? The more we talk about our story the more we find other people like us who are struggling with infertility and struggling to be parents. We are hoping that they may see embryo adoption as an option for them. Although there are risks with uncertainty as there is with adoption and in vitro fertilization, the cost is about one quarter of traditional adoption and half of in vitro fertilization ¼ We know that having children will alter our lives. Well-meaning people, who don’t know our struggles to become parents say, “Twins! That is going to be hard. A real life-changer.” Our response to that. We hope so!

For more information on embryo donation and adoption, visit the National Embryo Donation Center ( Andrea and Scott are very willing to talk to you about their experience with embryo adoption. If you want to be placed in touch with them, please write me at