For two years, Sheena & Phil wanted to be embryo donors and searched for the perfect family to adopt their remaining embryos with no luck. After a month on NRFA.org, they were matched and at peace with the closure they had found. Sheena shares, “I had been stressing about these embryos since their creation. First, worrying about what was to come of them, and then the past two years focusing strongly on finding them a match. Finally, this chapter is closing and another soon beginning. I love our embryo recipient family and am so excited to see what will come.”
What led you to embryo donation?
After struggling with infertility for 5 years with 3 failed IUI’s we finally moved onto IVF. Of our 32 eggs retrieved, 7 made it to day 3. We put in 1 perfect 8 cell embryo and got pregnant with my son. Even though we were told we would never conceive naturally, I got pregnant with my daughter when my son was 9 months old… naturally! My pregnancy with my son was very difficult, and his delivery was beyond traumatic, awful and scary. We both almost died and honestly had I not gotten pregnant with my daughter naturally, I don’t think I would have ever had another baby. Her pregnancy wasn’t as bad, but the same complications arose in her delivery and after she was born my husband and I decided our family was complete. I needed to be here to take care of these 2 babies so risking my health again didn’t make sense. We had 6 frozen embryos and for me, destroying them or donating them to science wasn’t an option. Embryo donation was the only choice. I view them as life and they deserve a chance to be born. Since I can no longer give them that chance, I felt my new job as their genetic mother was to find the person who could. I prayed nightly for God to lead me to the right person, and to give me peace when it happened. God has answered my prayers in every way shape and form!
How long had your family been looking to donate embryos prior to registering on NRFA.org?
Two years. We originally started with an agency. We were sent a family book and it just didn’t feel right. I felt like the book was a lie. I didn’t like that I couldn’t ask them questions, and that all communication was done through the agency, so I decided to try and find my own match. I posted in a fertility forum saying I was looking to donate my embryos and got an overwhelming response (more than 50 people emailed me) and I also looked in Facebook groups. Five times I had felt really good about a potential match and all five times (prior to finding NRFA.org) something happened that put a wrench into it. I was honestly starting to get really discouraged and starting to think that maybe I’d never find a match… maybe I was the problem…maybe I’d never think someone would be good enough.
How long was it before you communicated with a recipient on NRFA.org?
Honestly I created the profile, then didn’t give it much thought after that. I believe it was about a month of being on there before I finally found the time to really dive into it. Once I did, I narrowed it down to two potential matches and started conversations with both. I really liked them and showed both to my husband to get his feedback. I dove right into it and asked all questions I needed answers to, and answered anything they wanted to know. After about a week of lengthy conversations, we made our choice and offered our embryos to our recipient family.
What special connections or commonalities have you noticed between your family and your recipient’s family?
We had so many similar interests. They reminded me a lot of my husband and me. She and I liked many of the same things, and her husband and mine seemed to have very similar personalities. I loved that they already had adopted a child domestically and their outlook on her adoption and the relationship with her bio family and especially siblings. One thing that was really important to me was that I wanted my kids to have the chance to know their biological siblings, and it was nice that we were on the same page as far as that.
Describe how the process of matching, legal contract, and medically planning has gone. (Easier than you expected, less/more work than expected, easy/stressful, etc.)
It was very easy. She sent me over the contract and I added a few things that were important to me. She mailed her notarized copy, and I had mine notarized and mailed it back. I then called my clinic and got the medical release to release them to her. I had that notarized and mailed back to them. It was all REALLY REALLY easy. EMOTIONALLY, it was kind of the final step of letting them go. I had myself a quick cry when the contracts got notarized, but after that I felt the most amazing feeling of relief! I had been stressing about these embryos since their creation. First, worrying about what was to come of them, and then the past two years focusing strongly on finding them a match. It was always on my mind and I was so stressed out about it. Finally, this chapter is closing and another soon beginning. God granted me peace with everything, I love our recipient family and am so excited to see what will come. I know I’m in for more of an emotional roller coaster but I try not to think of unknowns and focus on things I know. I know that these embryos will now have a chance at life, and I know they deserve that. I know that I’ll be able to watch them grow up from afar, and even have the chance to meet them, and my kids will have the chance to meet them as well. I know that I’ve blessed this family with a gift that is beyond precious. This woman will hopefully be able to carry and deliver her baby. There is no words that can express the gratitude I have for her, that she is opening up her heart, body and family to these precious embryos.
What has brought you the most comfort throughout this process? Prayer. Two years ago I honestly wasn’t even close to being in the place that I am now. Its been a very long, stressful, emotional processes but I’ve prayed daily for God to help me be strong enough to go through with this, to let go, to find the right family that was meant to have these babies, and to be at peace with it. God is so good and has answered every one of my prayers.
What has been the biggest surprise to you throughout this process? Honestly, the way that I feel. I’m excited for what’s to come. I’m so happy to have found a match that I really like and I pray these embryos bless her with lots of babies! I was very surprised to feel the relief that I did when the contracts were signed and went in the mail. I thought I was going to be depressed to be honest. But I haven’t felt not one wave of depression. I know in my heart this was the right thing to do, and there are soooo many positive things. I’m focusing on all of the positives and looking forward to the next chapter in this crazy emotional journey!