Long-Overdue Adoption Update
As promised, this is a super long and super overdue update on our adoption. TL;DR - we are in the process of embryo adoption!!!!
To go back to the start of this, in 2018, Ray and I made the decision to move back to his hometown so we could be closer to our families. The main driver behind this was that we wanted to pursue infant adoption and knew that we both needed and wanted community around us as we started our family. We found an agency, connected with a social worker and completed the initial paperwork and our first meeting with her. Shortly after, however, we found ourselves bombarded with several stressful and pretty heavy life events that seemed to occur simultaneously. Everything we were facing at the time really forced us to take pause and, ultimately, we decided that we simply could not go into the process with everything else we were dealing with. We knew that adoption was going to require a lot from us and we needed to be fully present throughout. We decided to put our adoption process on hold and weren't sure when we were going to be able to get going again. Finally early last year, we knew we were definitely ready and were excited to get the process moving again.
While we were gearing up to start the home study, one of my aunts reached out and asked us if we had ever heard of embryo adoption. I was surprised that in all of my adoption research - and if you know me, you know I research everything to death - I had actually never heard of this. She told me that a couple at her church had just recently given birth to a baby that the woman had carried through an embryo adoption transfer. Like what?! Mind = blown. How had I never heard of this before?
To give you a little historical context, I've been told that one of my fertility issues is that I have a diminished ovarian reserve - i.e. no eggs. The fertility clinics we've been to have actually never even offered up IVF or IUI as options to conceive, since they say there are essentially no eggs to retrieve. (That's always fun to hear. Thanks guys!). One of the options they have consistently suggested, however, is to use an egg donor, which has just never really felt like the right path for us. Even so, in all of the research and conversations we've had with fertility doctors, I had never come across information on embryo adoption, and had no idea that there are literally over 1,000,000 embryos out there waiting to be adopted and given life. Like I said - mind = blown.
When my aunt initially told us about this, we immediately went to the link she had sent and started watching the video that told this couple's story. When we realized it meant that we would still be adopting but I could carry the baby (incredible!), I looked at Ray and in that moment we both knew we had to try it.
But then I had ALL THE QUESTIONS. First of all, what actually is it? How does it work? Do we just pick any fertility clinic or do we go to a specific clinic? Is it a long process like traditional adoption? Do we still have to do a home study? Is it expensive? How many times do we get to try it? Do I really get to be pregnant?? What about the donors? Do they pick us or is it all just anonymous? And do I really get to be pregnant???
Well, most people that we talk to about it have all of these same questions! So for your reading pleasure, here are the answers to our most frequently asked questions, as well as updates on our journey so far. 😊
What is embryo adoption?
It's exactly what it sounds like. Many couples find that they have leftover frozen embryos after they have gone through IVF, and as they complete their families, they are faced with the decision of what to do with their remaining embryos. Embryo donation, and in turn, embryo adoption, has solved this for so many. Donors have the peace of mind knowing that their embryos will have the chance of life and adopting couples have the chance to grow their families through this incredible gift. A simple way of describing it is carrying and giving birth to your adopted child.
How does it work? Do we just pick any fertility clinic or do we go to a specific clinic?
I have learned that many fertility clinics actually offer embryo donation and adoption as an option, however there are usually very long waiting lists. We are working with the National Embryo Donation Center in Knoxville, TN, which was formed for the very purpose of facilitating embryo donation and adoption. The NEDC has embryos physically available at their facility with no waiting list and partner with Southeastern Fertility to facilitate the entire process and embryo transfer(s). How it works at the NEDC is there is an initial application and, once approved, an initial medical consultation where there is a "trial transfer" completed to make sure there are no physical barriers to moving forward. We had our first appointment in September and received the most glowing report we've ever had at a fertility clinic! 😄 It was amazing to get the green light to move forward!
Is it a long process like traditional adoption?
Actually no! There is an approval process and lots of paperwork, but once you're approved you get in the queue for donor matching and then get on the transfer schedule. Depending on which route you are going - open or anonymous - it's easily less than a year from start to transfer in a lot of cases.
Do we still have to do a home study?
Unfortunately, yes. Our home study took a LOT longer than we thought it would (thanks, Covid), but we officially got our approval at the end of February! 🙌
Is it expensive?
Surprisingly, it's a fraction of the cost of traditional domestic adoption!
How many times do we get to try it?
In the NEDC program, we have up to three attempts to achieve pregnancy. While we certainly hope it doesn't take three attempts, I actually think it's great that there's a cutoff. That way, we'll know we tried it and if it doesn't work for us, we can move forward in confidence with our original plan of infant adoption.
Do I really get to be pregnant??
YES!! This part of it is still so amazing to me. I'm so hopeful this works for us and we can experience the joy (and pain 😬) of pregnancy and form that bond with our child from the very beginning.
What about the donors? Do they pick us or is it all just anonymous?
I will go into detail about this in a future post, but there is a matching process and we are just about to start it! There are options for open adoption and anonymous donation/adoption, which I'll also talk about later. That requires a much longer answer. 😅
And do I really get to be pregnant???
YES AGAIN!! God willing 🙏
If you've stuck with me this long, bravo! This is just a tiny fraction of the information out there about embryo adoption. The NEDC website has this great FAQ page about the process too.
Ray and I are so excited for this opportunity and I can't wait to share more about what God's done in our hearts through the process already. We're so appreciative of our community and all of your prayers. Please keep them coming! ❤❤