I hope this is this right place to post this.
I’m a father of a wonderful 6 month old son that my wife gave birth to May 2011, via embryo adoption. It’s been the best experience of my life (both of our lives) and I’ve become a huge fan and advocate for embryo adoption. It literally changed our lives.
Some background- like many people led to this path, my wife and I endured 6 years of failure at every type of attempt to have children. It was something of a private hell that was difficult to even share with others. I know my wife was at a point where to suffer another miscarriage or other unfortunate outcome may have been just too much for her. Back in June of 2010 we were at our lowest point: we hugged each other and tearfully agreed to close the door on that chapter for good, and begin the process of traditional adoption. We knew that was looking down another long and winding path, but we were ready to get started.
About a month later, my wife was having a routine medical checkup, and the subject of failed attempts came up. The doctor suggested why not try embryo adoption? He gave my wife the number of an IVF clinic here in Los Angeles that also runs an embryo adoption program. Despite all our prior research, we were both unaware of the entire concept. But we were immediately intrigued.
We called the clinic to set up and interview, and when we went for it, we were struck at how the attitude was a bit like, “Gee, it’s great that people actually know to come to us for this.” Like people weren’t exactly breaking their door down to take advantage of the service. I know not all IVF clinics are directly involved in E.A, but I recommend calling around and finding out if any around you might have this.
We talked with the doctor who would do the procedure if we were to adopt- a very helpful guy, and then we were sent to the person in charge of adoptions. (I don’t know if it’s allowed to name doctors and clinics by name here).
I just wanted to relate this to anyone that’s hesitant about going this route: I found it surprisingly straight forward. I’m hoping that many other IVF clinics that provide this service make it as straightforward. The way I see it, from the clinic’s perspective it’s simply good business in providing more IVF implant procedures, and more ‘satisfied customers’ to put it bluntly, so other than legal matters or individual state laws, I’m not really sure why any IFV clinic wouldn’t also have an E.A. program.
We basically filled out some forms on our preferences for adoption- what ethnic origin of parents we’d prefer, donor age ranges, things of that nature- and were then told to come back after they’d matched us with some prospects. When we came back, we got to look through information on the prospective donors, -no names of course- see pictures of them and the children they had from the very same embryo batch. We an overview of their family medical histories, etc. – a level of choice in adoption I’d never dreamed was possible.
We really got to take our time, in fact we came back three different times. Each time they had picked out more choices for us, and each time we had several ‘possible’ picks that would probably have suited us fine. The third time they presented us with a couple that just struck us as perfect for us- similar backgrounds and interests, and they had two beautiful kids. We chose them, and adopted 13 embryos- we’ve used two in the process of having our son.
The legal matters went smoothly- we were lucky to have a friend who is an attorney that could handle the legal proceedings for us. I think we spent a total of about $2000 on legal fees. It was our responsibility to cover both ours and donor parents’ legal expenses. I didn’t consider any of it excessive, especially compared to the gargantuan expenses of traditional adoption as I understand it.
I don’t know how laws vary from state to state, but in California the process seems pretty straightforward from my perspective. There were none of the other requirements of a straight adoption by the state (home visits and such) it didn’t seem to me much more from a legal standpoint than transferring ‘property’ from one party to another, and the agreement that any child would be our sole responsibility.
Of course, we never had direct contact with the donor parents, only communication using aliases via our attorneys. We added an agreement in the legal documents that if any children we had should ever want to meet their ‘biological family’ that they can when the time comes request contact via attorney. Pretty much sign on the dotted line and that was that.
From there, it was just the same process of IVF (without the most expensive harvesting part of course) which we’d been through before and knew the ropes. My wife was fortunate to have a wonderful, enjoyable pregnancy, and equally good childbirth.
Anyway, it’s been six months since we had our son, and now we’re considering a second child from the remaining embryos. We pay a $600 annual fee to keep the embryos in storage- eventually we’ll have to make the same choice as the original donors what to do with any leftovers, IE: put them up for adoption ourselves.
One thing that I wonder if others have experienced: because via the process you’re able to almost custom-pick the donor parents and see other children that give you a good idea of what yours may look like, one can have a child that could well look in every way- even giving birth- as if naturally yours. We’ve found that for us, this really raises an issue of whether to tell other people if he’s adopted or not.
It seems like a minor thing, but now that I’ve seen people insist “Oh he has your eyes!” or whatever, it becomes difficult to break up the well-wishing by reminding that he’s actually adopted. But on the other hand, it also makes a very interesting ‘origin story’ if you will.
I tend to be pretty open about it, but I’ve really started to notice it’s much more personal for my wife. I think her perspective is a lot different- she carried this child for months, went through everything to have him, and now I wonder does it somehow give her the feeling of diminishing her role even slightly by making too much of him being biologically adopted.
It’s not that these are major issues, but they’re little things to consider.
My parent in particular presented an issue. I wonder if others have a similar experience. Close family, I think get very myopic in the way they see things. We told my parents from the outset what we were doing, but sure enough, many months later and a giggling grandson in their arms and everything we told them was right out the window. They insisted “He has your grandfather’s eyes, and you Aunt’s this…” etc… and when I realized they were serious about all this, I felt it was just wrong to let this little ruse go with my family. I had to remind them- nicely of course- about the little one’s true origin.
It doesn’t matter one bit, to them or us, but it’s just one of those things that I wanted the full truth of his existence to be recognized for what it is by at least the closest of family. And yes, we plan on always being open about it with our son.
So basically, don’t be surprised unless you remind them every day of the process that your family may totally forget your little one is an embryo adoption and in their minds they’ll be seeing the spitting image of great uncle so and so.
Anyhow, that’s our story I wanted to share. My sincerest hope that if there’s anyone in the same situation as we were before all this, when just the mention of the words “embryo adoption” literally turned everything around for us and changed our lives, that someone else may be helped by any little bit of my experience. For us, it was the absolute perfect solution, and I’m positive it will be for others considering it too.
Take care, and all the best to anyone starting out or thinking of getting started on this amazing journey!