by: Katie Cline
Time Magazine ran an article on Embryo Donation entitled “Get Used to Embryo Adoption”. Despite the title, the article relates that a survey of more than 1,000 patients from nine U.S. fertility clinics who had extra embryos found that nearly 60% said they were “very unlikely” to donate them to another couple trying to have a baby; only 7% were “very likely” to consider this option (donate embryos).
I am a mother of boy and girl twins brought to life by two rounds of IVF. After seeing those little five day old embryos become my sweet, lovely children, my husband and I felt that embryo donation was the best solution for our two remaining embryos. Now, this isn’t just about me. I run a Facebook Group for embryo donors who are considering, have completed, or still are in process. We worked together to compile 10 great reasons to inspire the other 93% of families with remaining embryos to donate their remaining embryos.
1. A Complete Family
What do I mean by having a family that is complete? For me, it’s realizing two kids is definitely enough for me and my husband. I love my twins to pieces, but the mere thought of having four children gives me anxiety. Let’s face it, my two current kiddos regularly keep me up into the wee hours of the night, instead of enjoying my pre-kid midnight routine. I fear more kids would expose me to a whole new level of exhaustion.
A complete family can also mean the end of funds for more children or there are simply too many embryos for any one family to use. A recent donor already had three children from her IVF and still had eight embryos remaining. That is an overwhelming number of embryos when you are content with your five member family.
2. Medical Reasons
As sad as this reason is, several donors mentioned that after delivering their children, they were given a strict “no more children” discussion from their doctors. Some IVF participants are older than the average new mom and that brings risks that might dash plans for future children. Also, most are doing IVF due to some infertility problem anyway and the pregnancy that results can be hard on the body. If you have remaining embryos and have been told not to have more children for your own safety, please consider donating for the safety of all involved.
3. Expand Your Extended Family
In the past, embryo donation almost always had to be anonymous. Many clinics and donation centers still operate under these rules. But new services that offer private matching can give you the option to do an anonymous, closed, semi-open, or a complete open adoption agreement. Many members of my donor group have commented that they really have enjoyed finding an adoptive family that allows the families to blend. For some this means a few visits a year, for others it means spending some holidays together and even vacationing together. If you want to know the children your embryos become and want to know how they are doing, this new world is open to you.
We personally went with a semi-open agreement which means we will share updates with one another and the kids can ask questions / meet if they desire when they are older. For the most part, my husband and I will watch from afar – which is the best choice for us.
4. Give the Gift of Life
Another reason I, as well as many others, wanted to donate, is that IVF opened our eyes to how quickly life can grow and become a child. We went through months of treatment for these tiny little one cell DNA combinations of two partners. We anxiously waited to hear which were growing and how well they were doing. We implanted two embryos on day 5 and those two embryos became our wonderful and amazing children.
How can I now look at my remaining two embryos and think of them as just a lump of cells? I could not. Giving an embryo to a family struggling with infertility is a chance for those little 5-day circular clumps of cells, the chance at life. Life not only for the children, but life for a family who desperately wants to have children and love on them.
If you are considering donating, keep in mind the wonderful, amazing gift you will be giving to your adoptive family who is dependent upon the generosity of another to grow their family.
5. Give the Experience of Pregnancy
Traditional adoption is a beautiful thing and many have gone down that road with much joy. At the same time, there are many women who would genuinely like to experience pregnancy. They can monitor what they eat, what they drink, what medicines they may be taking. They can experience morning sickness and back pain, but also anticipation, doctor’s appointments, and baby showers knowing when the baby will be due to arrive.
When you give the gift of pregnancy you take away the worry that the birth mother will change her mind or that her agency will pick another couple. You take away the need to fly to a foreign country with bribe money in your pocket because the agency told you it was expected. You are giving peace, joy and anticipation when you donate.
6. Infertility Struggles – We’ve Been There
Most couples do the expensive and time consuming process of IVF because every other option has already been exhausted. We’ve experienced the anxious waiting to see if a baby is growing while fearing the worst. Many of us have also already experienced the worst, the devastation of lost hopes.
Embryo donors can give those who adopt a new hope for a baby that will grow and thrive. We have the empathy to put ourselves in their shoes because we have been there ourselves.
7. The Ethical Choice
Several of my embryo donor friends mentioned that no matter your religion or creed, embryo donation is the ethical choice for those remaining. As mentioned above, we’ve seen those embryos turn into our children and it is a natural step of logic to provide the same opportunity at life for the remaining embryos. One commented that as mothers, embryo donation is the ethical choice due to our experiences with infertility, having a family and completing it. Ethics can always be debated, but as a mother, please look at your living children and consider embryo donation as an ethical choice for your remaining embryos.
8. Peace of Mind
As all mothers, those who have successfully completed IVF, we wonder how many more children we would like. It is an emotional and long term process. Many worry about having the extra embryos when we are leaning towards believing our families are complete. One donor said she would dream of babies crying at night while her remaining embryos were in storage. Now that they are living, the dreams have stopped.
For me, peace of mind came not when I decided to donate, but when I found the perfect couple. For me, I loved reviewing profiles and looking for similarities. It was a bit awkward to tell some that we were not a good fit, but when I had those feelings very strongly, I didn’t want to leave anyone waiting for my reply. It amazed me the first time we really felt a connection. Same beliefs, same interests, same family values and they live a state away (which was great for us). For all these reasons, when signing the final paperwork, I was emotional, but I had finally found peace.
9. Desire to Know
As people with extra embryos, we know what our first healthy babies have become. We know their personalities, looks, quirks, and strengths as well as weaknesses. For those with extra embryos, donation is a way to know what the other embryos may become. Will they be boys or girls? Will they have the same color eyes? Will they be tall or short? Even I as a semi-open donor I am looking forward with anticipation of the sex and looks and personalities of the donated two. Will the couple get a boy and a girl like us?
Knowing can be at any level you are comfortable, all the details or just a few. Many mothers have described the desire to know what those little cells may one day become. Donation can bring peace of mind to this situation as well.
10. Embryo Storage Costs
As my final and perhaps most practical reason to donate is the high cost of not making a decision. My storage costs are $900/year. I live in the suburbs and have heard of storage costs that can be much higher.
Are you paying year after year because you don’t want to destroy your embryos, but you don’t want more children? Donating can be a practical way to remove that line item from your budget as well as giving you peace of mind about what to do.
Why pay year after year when your family is complete? Please consider giving the gift of life, the gift of pregnancy, and hope to a struggling infertile couple.
Katie Cline resides in Texas with her husband and two children. She enjoys throwing elaborate parties, spending time at the lake, traveling and cooking gourmet baby food (that her twins enjoy throwing at her). She is an embryo donor that successfully found her perfect match on www.NRFA.org. Katie‘s “Embryo Donor Only” Support Group can be found here.