Our journey through infertility, failed adoptions and now parenthood through the miracle of embryo adoption/donation.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Donation vs Adoption

I know that I have blogged about this subject before, but a recent post on the Embryo Adoption Awareness Face.book page has resurrected my thoughts about it all. I want to start of by saying that I am in no way 'against' this agency or any agency. My intent is not to be negative towards them, but to share another side of the whole adoption vs donation debate.

First, what is the difference? Or is there a difference? The answer is yes. And no. Legally speaking there is not such thing as adopting an embryo. It is a transfer of property. The process, however, is different. Adoption is when you go through an agency that will match you with embryos and they require a home study. The 'adoption' can be open, closed or semi-open. For donation it can be a match made by two people or through a clinic which is usually anonymous and no home study is required. As for the terms "adopted" and donated" they are often used interchangeably. Partly because, regardless of which route you take, many people feel that since the embryos are not genetically related that they are adopted. Also, it is because adopted is an easier term to understand. Adoption is also a better term to use when discussing origins with a child created via donated embryos.

The debate comes mainly from those that believe that life begins at conception AND fights for Personhood. My personal stance is that life begins at conception, yet I disagree with Personhood laws on many levels and cannot support it as currently written. The staunch 'donation' side is usually those that do not support Personhood and many RE's, especially those with donation programs.

So which is right, donation or adoption? The answer is both. There is a need for both and each side needs to recognize it. People choose a route for many different reasons. For some, especially those supporting Personhood, adoption is a very important choice and they choose an embryo adoption agency. Others choose the adoption route because of success rates, many available embryos, wanting an open 'adoption', etc. Those that choose donation may have some of the same feelings as those choosing adoption, but choose donation for their own reasons. Some of which are lack of funds (EA programs are typically more expensive), prefer not to do a home study, cannot pass a home study (maybe a health issue, or a bad past that has been overcome, single, gay, or not a Christian, etc), disagree with a home study, or other reasons.

Each side has benefits and flaws. An anonymous clinic program does not offer a way for donors, recipients and children to meet. Children may want to find their genetic family one day but it could be almost impossible. Donors are also not told how many, if any, children are born. Also, embryos can go to several couples and genetic children born with each of them. Some clinics do not offer much in the way of medical history and some will mix embryos for two couples leaving the recipient not knowing which couple it came from. Many of these issues can be corrected quite easily if a clinic wanted to make the changes. An EDA registry would be a great place to start. Also, donors should have access to how many couples the embryos went to and how many children were born. Another things would be to allow donors and recipients to make contact if both wanted to do so. Not through the clinic as this would be a service that many would not have time for, but to allow for an exchange of information. And last, but not least, records should automatically be available to a child once they turn 18 years old.

On the adoption side they could make it more affordable. Embryos Alive gives the option of a home study or a dossier. If more agencies did this more people would use their programs. Also, more matching agencies that allowed couples that were not Christian, gay, or single to utilize their program. I do not, in any way, expect a Christian agency to accept those that do not meet their criteria. They have the right to to refuse those that do not meet their specifications. But secular agencies would help to make embryos available to those that do not meet the current criteria at the established agencies. Lowering fees would help as well. Some of the fees for the agencies are quite high and when you have spent $20k on IVF you may not have the funds to spend another $10k on embryo adoption.

There is good and bad with either route you choose. But having both of these options along with Miracle's Waiting and California Conceptions allow for people to make the right choice for them. It bother me when one side comes out swinging against the other. All fulfill the needs of the donors and recipients. All of them need to exist. But bashing one is not going to help bring about change.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Parenting an EA child

One of the things that I worried about when I was pregnant with Maddie was if it would be odd to not only give birth but to parent a child not genetically mine. Would I see characteristics in her that were glaringly obvious to belong to another family? Would she look so different from us that we would wonder who these other people were all of the time? Would her genetics be a part of our daily life? Maddie is now 3 1/2 years old and I can only laugh at some of those thoughts.

Parenting a child born via embryo donation/adoption is, well, parenting. Normal, every day parenting. Maddie just happens to look just like us. It is almost eery how much she looks like us and hubby's family. She even resembles her aunt's baby pictures. And by living with us she acts just like us. Actually, more like hubby then anything. We are both sarcastic and crack jokes a lot. Maddie does too. She has sarcasm down to a science. She makes songs about everything which is something that hubby does all of the time. Its actually annoying when he does it but she is too cute. Hubby is deaf in one ear and often says "Huh? What? What did you say?". Unfortunately Maddie does this too. But it is more "Huh? What you say? Say it again, mommy". I could go on and on and on. No matter her origins she has morphed into us. Poor kid!!! lol

There are times though that I will see something that makes me wonder where it came from. One of which is her love of horses.  We don't have a love of farms and farm animals. Don't get me wrong, I like animals and all, but I have no dreams to be a farmer's wife. But Maddie loves horses. She has a few plastic toy ones that she constantly plays with. She also rides a broom like a horse. She adores them. I know little about her genetic family, but I do know that they and their extended family have a lot of property and a farm about 2 hours south of us. I believe that she gets her love of animals and horses from them. Instead of this making me sad, reminding me that she is not genetically mine, it makes me smile. I love that she has that from them. I love them for giving her a start in life and giving us the chance to be parents. My only thoughts of them are those of gratitude.

My daily life with Maddie rarely consists of thoughts of her conception. I do think of the wonder of it often, but usually I am just too busy telling her to get clothes on or to quit making a mess to even think about it. Yesterday Maddie told me "Mommy, I am marvelous!". And you know what? She is! She really is! Her genetic parents are marvelous. Her conception is marvelous. And loving her is marvelous. She is just your average toddler and parenting her is truly marvelous.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Tomorrow is her birthday (failed adoption)

In 2003 we were contacted about a woman that was pregnant and going to abort. After talking to us she decided to allow us to adopt. In March of 2004 that fell apart and we said that we would not ever try adoption again. A few months later we were contacted about keeping a baby while the mother was in prison, kind of like a foster care situation. We were 99% certain that this was not for us. We agreed to talk to the mother on the phone and were honest with her, that were were looking to adopt, not foster, but agreed to pray about it. We asked for a week to make our decision. A few days later she called back asking us to adopt. She had a 7 year sentence for statutory rape (Abbie's father was 14 when the 'relationship' started, mother was in mid 30's) and did not think that it was fair to ask someone to keep her for that long. If we chose not to adopt her she would go to foster care. We agreed to adopt and began the home study process and met with a lawyer (this was in September). Things were moving forward until the mother learned that she had a parole hearing in January, right around the time the baby was due. So a few days before Thanksgiving she said that she needed more time. We knew that she was reconsidering because she might get out. We understood that. But we also knew that her chances of parole were almost zero. So on January 11th, 2005 we decided to proceed, hoping and praying that she would either be released and we would only have the baby for a short time, or that she would remain in prison and allow us to adopt.

In late January she was denied parole yet refused to allow the adoption. She was using us and we knew it. We loved this little girl to pieces but knew that we could not keep her. We had her for 2 months when we issued the ultimatum: find Abbie a new home or allow us to adopt. There was a local religious group that did foster care for the prisoners and she had contacted them prior to us and none of their families had been willing to take Abbie due to the length of the prison stay. She contacted them again and they found one family willing to take her. We had lost. My heart was shattered. Yet I knew that it was the right decision. The mother spent 6 years in prison, getting out when Abbie was 5 1/2 years old. Over 5 years living with one family and visiting your mother on the weekends in prison, then ripped out of that family and placed with your birth family at 5 years old. How is that healthy? Its not. But it wasn't our decision to make.

The year after we lost Abbie was a dark year. The good part of it was that while in the process of trying to adopt her, our church began to provide health insurance for us. My infertility issues and thyroid problems had made it extremely difficult to be self insured. Hubby is self employed (in ministry) so there was not a work option for us. Since we needed insurance in order to adopt this was an answer to prayer. It also allowed us to begin the long, arduous journey of infertility diagnosis. We had some prior testing, but not much. So once Abbie was gone we began to jump into the infertility game and though it was a long 4 years it led us to embryo adoption. It led us to Maddie. And now Olivia. But no matter what a piece of my heart belongs to Abbie. I wonder what she looks like. I wonder if she is well taken care of. I wonder if her father has ever tried to see her. I wonder if she suffers from her mother's decisions. And most of all I pray for her to know Jesus one day.

Happy Birthday, my sweet Abbie. May Jesus watch over you and keep you safe. And may one day you know that you have a "mom and dad" that love you even if we cannot see or hold you.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Over halfway there :)

It is so hard to believe that Olivia will be here in 18 weeks. Whoa! It doesn't seem like I am that far along. I feel her move now so it is real to me, but I am not showing much yet so I tend to forget at times. I also feel fantastic which is nice. My migraines have finally subsided which is wonderful. They were so much worse this time and I was scared they would last the entire pregnancy.

Next week I have another u/s. During my previous anatomy scan they could not get a good look at the heart so we will have a look see next week. I am excited since she will be bigger and hopefully get a good picture this time. Then the 3rd week of January I have my glucose test. And around that time I will have reached viability. I will be very happy to reach that mark. Having had pre-eclampsia with my first pregnancy I am nervous about having it again. It hit last time at 34 weeks and the possibility exists that it will happen again and maybe even earlier. My BP has remained steady and normal which is good, but it did last time as well. I will just be glad to get past 24 weeks and every week thereafter.

This week we begin cleaning out the office/storage/spare/craft room. It is a daunting task!! But I want it finished by the beginning of April just to be sure that it is finished before Olivia makes her appearance. I have her bedding set and know how the room will be painted. I am trying to decide whether to sell my dark furniture and buy white or just keep it. I would prefer white but don't really want to hassle of changing it all. We shall see.

We have most of the big items that we need except a car seat and I want a sit and stand stroller. Maddie will be almost 4 when Olivia is born and while she won't need a stroller often it will be nice to have one that she can use as well. Other than that we have most everything. It is starting to get real here, peeps!!!!

I hope that everyone is doing well. And for those getting ready to cycle I pray that you all have great success.