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When All Else Fails, Embryo Adoption Offers Hope

Directional sign showing embryo adoption
What about adopting an embryo?
What about adopting an embryo?

I doubt if anyone having trouble conceiving wakes up thinking: What about adopting an embryo? In the crushing world of infertility, embryo adoption seems like an even more distant option. The fertility clinic in Seattle told me we only qualified to be a part of its embryo-donation / embryo-adoption program because we had been such “failures” in trying to conceive. For the first time in our four-year battle with infertility, I was happy to admit our shortcomings.

My husband, Noah, and I started trying to make a baby in 2010, just after I turned 30. We tried the old-fashioned way, with the help of ovulation test strips, a basal body thermometer and the advice from my doctor to “just relax.” We moved on to Clomid, the fertility gateway drug, and in the spring of 2012 we finally resorted to a reproductive endocrinologist. Thus began our rapid descent into the abyss of assisted reproductive technology.

When we started trying to create our family, we didn’t know that it would involve many other people and tens of thousands of dollars. We didn’t know I could be almost out of eggs in my early 30s. We didn’t know that we would spend years injecting hormones into my body in the hope of finding that elusive one good egg. We didn’t know we could have our hearts broken repeatedly by losing something that never was. And we didn’t know that we would have to rethink our goals when it came to creating our family. We no longer limited our quest to passing on our genetic material; we just wanted to be parents. However we could.

After several intrauterine inseminations and one round of IVF, involving days of meticulous medicated preparation, we began researching traditional adoption when my younger sister offered to donate her eggs. Although our trusted doctor was slightly hesitant to use the eggs of a 29-year-old who shared my genes, my husband and I thought this was a good option. We could have a genetically related child, and I could bond by carrying it to term in my own body. That was the summer of 2013, the summer I learned the meaning of true love and generosity as my sister moved home to prepare for her contribution. With her help we got to our first transfer day, but our doctor was right; a donor related to me was not the best choice. The transfers resulted in what the infertility community refers to as BFNs (Big Fat Negatives).

It took a while to come back from that defeat — emotionally, physically and financially. We couldn’t afford an anonymous egg donor, which can cost upward of $30,000. And we couldn’t afford to start the process of traditional adoption, which would cost about the same. But moments of utter despair are often redeemed by some unexpected option arising from the rubble.

One morning late last year, in frantic desperation, I started calling all the fertility clinics I knew that they might have preserved embryos donated by couples who no longer needed them and wanted to participate in embryo adoption. After much research, I found our match in another state one thousand miles from us: a pair of embryos with my ethnic mix that had been frozen in 2010. Something just felt right.

Noah and I no longer cared about our genetics. We cared only about having a family, being parents, and getting out of the tortuous lifestyle of struggling with infertility. This embryo adoption seemed like our best choice. At a cost of just over $7,000 (not including medication), we did a frozen embryo transfer this past July and after four years and nearly $50,000, I’m finally pregnant with our “adopted” child.

Noah and I have learned some valuable lessons during our parental pursuit. We have learned that families are created in many different ways. We have learned how to be patient and resilient and flexible, and how to band together in determination to make tough decisions for the betterment of our family.

Essentially, we’ve learned how to be parents. We hope.

Source: Author Maya Grobel Moskin at NY Times  http://nyti.ms/1FIMzZx

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