Donor Selection & Matching
In a recent update, I promised to go into more detail about the matching process of embryo adoption, and since that's where we are right now it seems like the perfect time for this post. I get TONS of questions about this part of the process from family and friends so I'm packing a lot of information into this post!
Through the NEDC's embryo adoption process, we have the option to choose either an anonymous donation/adoption or an open donation/adoption. Choosing anonymous means there wouldn't be any communication between the donor family and adopting family, now or in the future. If choosing an open donation/adoption, the donor family must 'accept' us after we have selected them. After acceptance, the donor family and adopting family move to mediation, where we will agree on contact/communication/etc. We use a social worker as the intermediary to manage and create this agreement.
One thing that's important to note is that if we chose an anonymous adoption, we would only be matched to anonymous donors, and vice versa with an open adoption. This eliminates a possible situation where we would choose a donor that would want to be anonymous if we wanted to be open. It helps everyone on both sides to know that going in, we essentially want the same outcome.
In order to select donors, we use the NEDC's donor database, which contains all of the available donor information, including physical characteristics, family medical history, the number and type of embryos available, education, hobbies, etc. Occasionally there are photos too! This database also splits the donors into anonymous or open, so it's very easy to make sure you're selecting donors in your preferred category.
Open vs. Anonymous
This can be a tough decision for some embryo adoption families, and I totally get it - I've been there. When we were doing our home study for traditional infant adoption, we always thought we would do a semi-open situation, knowing that our relationship could grow and become even more open as time went on. With embryo adoption, though, I felt like it only made sense to do an anonymous adoption since I would be giving birth. Ray and I talked about it a lot and I always came back to doing an anonymous adoption. We even told the NEDC that's what we would be doing.
As time went on, I felt a shift happening in my heart and in my thinking. I started to see us doing an open embryo adoption and spent time thinking about what that would look like. I started to pray about it more and ask God why I was so closed off to doing an open adoption. Then one day, it was as if a switch flipped and He suddenly opened my eyes to what was at the root of my resistance to an open adoption - insecurity. Yep, I was insecure about me being 'mom' and this baby truly being mine if there was another woman in the picture. Would my child not love me as much if there was another woman who could be called 'mom'? I felt so silly once I realized that. At the same time, I started to think about how much I would want to give my future child everything, including a connection to their genetic family. Recently, I've learned a lot about how the connection to where a child comes from - their personal history - can heavily shape their identity and security. And how would I feel if my child questioned me about why I made the decision I did? If it was selfishly based on my own insecurity, that is just not something I could be ok with.
While I was coming to all of these realizations, we were completing our training with the NEDC, which included watching interviews with donor and adopting families. In a few of these videos, there were open situations where the relationships developed between the two families were simply beautiful, as if they were just extended families. It was incredible and heartwarming and sealed the deal for both of us. We knew in those moments that open adoption was the path for us. It gave me so much peace and reminded me that if we have open hearts and open hands, God can bless us so much more. We have realized over and over again throughout this process that He is writing a far better story for our lives.
So, where are we now?
We started reviewing donors in June and spent a good amount of time going through the profiles again and again. What I discovered was that it wasn't nearly as stressful or nerve-wracking as I anticipated it would be - further proof to me that God has His hand all over this! We finally narrowed it down to three donor families. It's important that we have at least one backup donor, since we won't know until the day of transfer if our embryos survive the thaw. And, what we love about the NEDC, is they won't thaw ALL of them, they will thaw one at a time (or two, depending on how they come frozen), so they don't 'waste' or discard any of them. They recommend we have at least five embryos available between all of our donors. Each of the donors we selected had two, so that gives us six total.
All three of the donor families have now accepted us, which is so exciting! We submitted a 'letter to donors' to the NEDC during the application process, along with a few photos, which they share with the donors as part of the acceptance process. The letter serves to gives the donors an idea of who we are and information about our life. Now that we have been accepted, we are moving on to mediation with all of them! We will continue to post updates here and on social media, and, as always, we appreciate the prayers and support of our community. ❤️