Why adopt embryos? Part 4 Choosing the family that will forever be related to you

How does that old saying go? 

“You can choose your friends but you sho’ can’t choose your family, an’ they’re still kin to you no matter whether you acknowledge ’em or not, and it makes you look right silly when you don’t.”

― Harper LeeTo Kill a Mockingbird

I have to say, this is one of the most awesome parts of embryo adoption. The ability to determine if you are a good match with amazing people who are likeminded and want life for their embryos is an amazing gift. I feel like I am looking at future in laws when I look at a family’s profile on paper.  What are they like? How do they run their family? What is important to them? What are the natural inclinations of the other children? One thing that is the same about all of these families- they want their frozen children to have life. They want them to at least have a chance at life. These families also almost always have children from the set of embryos that they are placing so the frozen babies are siblings to the ones that have already been born.

How cool is that?

Let me clarify here, all families vary on the desire to have a closed or open relationship, but I would say that the majority of the families desire at least some contact. They want their children to meet their siblings in the future. Paul and I were very comfortable about this and want these children to know how much they are loved by not only us but their biological parents. They can feel connected to their older siblings (of course I am not there yet so I may be in an idyllic lala land). I also want to speak of the quality of the families that we have encountered, even the ones with which we have not matched. They are amazing, educated, high morals, and want their frozen babies to have the opportunity at a full life with their future family. These families run the gamut of talents and gifts but they are almost always a husband and wife that want their children to be educated, given opportunities in the arts, athletics, and to grow in love of their fellow man. Isn’t that what every adoptive mother (or couple) wants for their child.

We were given the opportunity to see the genetic background for all of the families (one at a time) as we looked for our potential matches. We were able to see what the parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles all excelled in. What kind of business did they participate in? (Might we have a future entrepreneur in the family or a future musician?) What was their health history? Why did they have fertility struggles? Are they carriers of any genetically related issues? Paul and I carefully read over everything- I have not ever been in to genealogies but this was a great part of the matching process. I could go on and on about how valuable this information was. It was not a deal breaker in any of our decisions though- I will tell you that. Really, who of us doesn’t have a crazy Aunt Ethel or a family member that has struggled with a certain illness? You know going in to a match a lot of information about the family.

There are currently embryos that are waiting that have siblings with autism or other special needs. This does tend to make those children a little harder to place- perhaps you have a special heart and would be willing to give those little ones a chance. Here is the link to the waiting embryos at Snowflakes….. (Why do I sound like a commercial?)

http://www.nightlight.org/snowflakes-waiting-embryos/

Some are also special cases because they are multi-ethnic. We were actually open to these as well.

http://www.nightlight.org/snowflake-embryo-adoption/adopt-multi-ethnic-embryos/

So, the 4th and final thing (for now) that is an advantage of embryo adoption is the ability to choose who you will forever be related to, and on what level. How much closeness is good for each of you? This has been an amazing blessing so far. There is one family that we did not match with (I will blog about that this week). We are still chatting occasionally and cheering each other on. Of course, we love people so this is hugely attractive to Paul and me!

May I indulge with a few more pictures of “Christmas” last weekend? We were not able to make it to Oklahoma and Paul’s mom hasn’t been feeling well enough to travel to us so we waited until this weekend to travel up there so we were able to get Christmas Stockings, Christmas gifts, and tons of fun with our older cousins…hours of fun building a fort too!

IPAD's are SO interesting! Did you know three can play on one mini at a time? True

IPAD’s are SO interesting! Did you know three can play on one mini at a time? True

Long awaited Christmas Gifts

Long awaited Christmas Gifts

My Hot Wheel Fanatic!

My Hot Wheel Fanatic!

Love Grandma Sugar

Love Grandma Sugar

Of Course, Money is always our favorite!

Of Course, Money is always our favorite!

She wanted a bow and arrow! Ha!

She wanted a bow and arrow! Ha!

That is one scary alarm clock!

That is one scary alarm clock!

Happy Wednesday!

Run up that hill…..

OVER SHARING

                 So, I had a conversation with my brother in law last night about how much was appropriate to share on Facebook. We all have seen the posts. Some drone on and on with information that is not all that interesting and well, really not exactly appropriate to be shared on Facebook.Children’s toileting habits come to mind. I am guilty as charged- I over share from time to time. I recently have made a concerted effort to not share more than what is appropriate. That said, this boundary is different for every person. There are a couple of “selfish reasons” to choose embryo adoption so, at the risk of “over sharing” I would like to put one of them in today’s post.

The Financials

My brother also said this weekend “How much does that cost?” Leave it to my brother to get that out there. I didn’t mind. Finances are a big deal in our family. All of my immediate family members have homes that are paid for and no debt. We don’t do debt; we have a low tolerance for risks when it comes to investments- we don’t do single stock trading or oil futures. Paul and I do Dave Ramsey, we live on cash- one day I will write a ranting blog all about personal finance- it is a topic that I am highly energized by and passionate about. Suffice it so say for this conversation I will stick to the financial implications of Embryo adoption.

Embryo adoption is the cheapest adoption out there (that I have found). I know that foster to adopt can be less expensive but compared to overseas adoption as well as private adoption embryo adoption is hands down less expensive. I think everyone wants to ask this question but is afraid to because they don’t want to seem nosy- nose away! Here is the breakdown (now, this is only from our particular agency):

Fixed Costs for Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program

The Snowflakes Embryo Adoption program is an ALL INCLUSIVE service.  The items listed below are NOT SEPARATE, but all are included in the Snowflakes program fee.  Your entire embryo adoption, including home study and medical expenses should cost between $10,000 – $15,000.  The price range is based on our understanding of other agency program fees, home study fees and frozen embryo transfer fees.

Program Management &                                                   $3,500.00
Current and Future Client Communications and Records Storage:

Legal Contract Development and Coordination:            $2,500.00

Fertility Clinic Coordination &                                          $1,000.00
Embryo Shipping:

Food and Drug Administration Compliance and Donor Testing:                                                                               $1,000.00

Total Snowflakes Program Fee:                                       $8,000.00

price chart embryo

These are sourced from the following website link

http://www.nightlight.org/snowflake-embryo-adoption/

Additional Fees are incurred for the following reasons:

Homestudy- for us performed by a local agency Child Placement Center about $2000.

Here is the link to Child Placement Center (I am super excited in future posts to talk more about this agency- they come into play soon!).

http://childplacementcenter.org/

Fertility Doctor Fees- These range based on where you are a patient and on your particular situation. Your insurance may cover some fertility needs. You may be able to have some procedures covered by insurance as well. For example my HSG (hystosalpingogram) was covered by my insurance as well. Once I am pregnant I also will then be covered by insurance.

Medications- This is one that I was not expecting! Hello, who knew Crinone Gel would be so expensive? (about $750)

All that said, this is actually one of the more affordable adoptions out there.

Who knew?

I have been away from blogging for a couple of days to fully enjoy the family this Easter. We have a family tradition of getting together with my Dad’s side of the family at Easter time instead of Christmas time because things get so busy. We used to do Christmas at Easter but we have dropped Christmas gift exchange entirely and now we just do Easter and hang out at my Aunt’s amazing backyard! Here are a few select pictures of the fun.

My doll baby!

My doll baby!

Grandma's Goslings

Grandma’s Goslings

Sweet Lukie

Sweet Lukie

Grandma's Cake

Grandma’s Cake

Who might this be???? Stay Tuned-----I can hardly wait to tell his story!

Who might this be???? Stay Tuned—–I can hardly wait to tell his story!

My Nephew- sweet boy!

My Nephew- sweet boy!

All my parent's Grand kids!

All my parent’s Grand kids! I just like how Luke and Joshua are looking at each other!

Angelic Noelle my niece

Angelic Noelle my niece

These three are going to be trouble waiting to happen!

These three are going to be trouble waiting to happen!

Blurry of Dad and I while Luke was taking pictures!

Blurry of Dad and I while Luke was taking pictures!

As I sat in Easter morning service (how I love Easter) tears were in my eyes (I hid them of course). There is just something about singing about the joy of our Savior. It was also a time to think about the coming year. Will we have our own Snowflake this time next year?

Whatever the answer we will rejoice!

Have a great week!

Run Hard!

More on the Process

               I will come back to Part 3 and Part 4 of why we chose embryos in the future but I would like to digress to part of the process for just a little while if it is ok. As I said in a previous post- October 1st 2012 we found a match with 5 embryos. Prior to this however we were matched with a family that had 2 embryos. They were a wonderful family and Paul and I struggled and struggled praying over if this was “the one” for our family. There were several things that we looked at. Some of them were not, in hindsight, issues at all. At the time though, they mattered. For example, this family had two wonderful boys. We worried “What if we have a girl and they haven’t had a girl?” How would that be for them? Would they be sad that we were able to have a girl and they could not? Our social worker assured us that the family was very pleased with their current family and that their family was complete- they would be delighted whether we had boys or girls. I am not even sure why that mattered. I wonder however if it was just a cover because my real underlying concern was “If they had two boys maybe both of the embryos are boys and we have no chance at a girl”- Isn’t that silly! We are thankful for life, and life in general- why would it matter what sex the child is. As I have said before- this is something I am still in process of working out. Maybe it is because Lexi is so wonderful, but yet, we have not hit the tweens or the teens yet. I know ultimately, whatever we are given we will love and enjoy. I also pray even now for my future son in laws and daughter in laws. I think that is one of my bigger concerns with boys- you lose them to their wives. People always say that girls stick closer to home. I know it is true in our family. That being said, I have the BEST mother in law- a mother in law that Lexi takes after exactly. I am so blessed that she does! The second and probably largest reason that we did not adopt the first set of embryos that we matched with was because they were Jewish. I really thought that it would be an honor, a joy to have a child who was Jewish. Since we are Christian we have a great respect for the Jewish faith. One is Jewish by blood and heritage not because of a decision they make. Paul and I would want this child to go through all the rights, the rituals, the sacred ceremonies of a Jewish child. We would owe that to that child to honor his origin as well as his birthright. Paul and I just didn’t think that we had the ability to make sure that all of those activities were met by us. It would have been an honor and privilege to be a part of that community and it was very attractive to us- part of what made us want to adopt those 2 children but ultimately we felt that God had something else for us.

Because that was our first match, I cannot tell you how hard it was to let go. Would someone else want us? We know that this is a match- would we match again? What would our next match be like? Saying no to those embryos was very hard. I guess it is important for me to write about saying no because I want to make sure that people know that it is ok. The perfect match is out there. The right one is there, it is ok if there is a diffuse feeling of “this just isn’t right and I don’t know why”. We didn’t have very good reasons for saying no, it just wasn’t right.

We are excited about this Easter. We attended and LOVED the UMHB Easter pageant yesterday. This was Luke’s first time to really sort of understand. He just kept saying “Mommy hold me” and “when are the bad guys coming”. Then at the very end he was upset and hurt at what they were doing to Jesus, then joyful over him coming back from the tomb, and then cried (hard) when he didn’t get to high five Jesus. It was one of those contorted ugly cries- I think more from the heavy emotion of it all not so much from the high five but I am not sure. Either way, it was my first time to attend however Lexi’s 4th. I think it will need to be a new tradition.  Reverent Maundy Thursday to you- Sunday is coming!

Why adopt embryos? Part 2- Working Parts

There are many reasons people adopt. I hear this wording lately of “growing your family through adoption”. I am not sure exactly what that means- it isn’t like a garden where we plant tomatoes and see what grows. We personally are not “growing a family” as if acquisition was the objective. Perhaps I am misreading here but for some reason it is just sort of an odd statement. Another odd statement was recently stated to me in an interview regarding embryo adoption from a researcher in England. They do not have embryo adoption in England so it is a novel thing to them. He stated “Ok, so it is kind of like you want to be a savior”. That bugged me too. No, I don’t want to be a savior, there is only one of those. God is big enough without me to manage every single one of His children that he loves. He doesn’t need me or my womb. He can do it without me. So why in the world would we do something like this on purpose? 

I can only speak for myself (and occasionally my husband) regarding this issue. If you have read any of this blog you know that we had a difficult situation with the loss of a little girl in a private adoption. That made a huge impression on us. Why not adopt from Africa or Hati or any one of the thousands of children in orphanages that don’t have homes; that are going to grow up alone without a family? Why not adopt a child from here- out of the foster system? All of these are needed and necessary ways of adopting- every adoption is hard, it is not for those who would like it easy. A friend of mine sent out a message to several friends who had all adopted recently asking about the agency they used and what were their thoughts. It was amazing to me that every single answer revealed a different adoption agency as well as a different path. There are so many ways to adopt it is amazing. One friend who used one agency at first was using a different agency the second time. I digress.

In short, we chose embryo adoption because we can do something that not everyone who wants to adopt can. I have “working parts” and we have the ability to adopt in this way- a way that not everyone can. I asked Paul one time “This isn’t like real adoption; it isn’t like there is a child in an orphanage that needs a home”.  Embryo adoptions are technically “tissue transfers” similar to an eye lens, kidney donation, or any other organ transplant. These children do not have rights in the eyes of the law- they are just tissue.  As I wrestled with this a year or so ago and discussed it with Paul. Ever the fluent one he stated “Are you telling me that a child frozen in liquid nitrogen is not a life without a home?” “I would argue that this is a child in need of a home just as much as any other child that is currently in a mother’s belly or in an orphanage.” I don’t know, I am not sure I would go that far but I am still trying to work it out but I do know that I can carry and give birth to a child when not everyone is given this gift, why wouldn’t God call us to adopt this way? We are somewhat unusual in the embryo community because we have children (I don’t know any statistics for that). I have conceived, carried and given birth to my children with only one miscarriage. Frequently embryo adoption is a means for a family who has not been able to conceive their own children to allow them to experience the joy of pregnancy and birth of their own adopted child. Why does embryo adoption appear to be restricted to those who have not been able to obtain pregnancy by traditional means? It shouldn’t! I challenge that the life in that freezer is just as much a life as any other orphan. There is one difference- in this case technology has created this life. No one in the third world is performing In Vetro Fertilization, this is largely a created problem. Lives are created that are then stored and frozen until they are either used for research or transferred to a mother. I can’t imagine any family that has been through IVF and struggled to create life only to later say “Oh, we were just kidding- they really aren’t children, they were just groups of cells”. Every mother that has undergone IVF and has had a child or children as a result knows that this is indeed a child not an nondescript group of cells.

So the second reason we chose adopt embryos is because we have working parts and that in itself is a gift from God.

Why adopt embryos? Part 1- The Loss of KK

With so many children in America and around the world why would you adopt an embryo?

GREAT QUESTION

To explain why embryo adoption was attractive you must understand the back story that included the loss of a little girl we were in process of adopting. Please understand that this story only represents the Dillon’s feelings, events, and the side of the story that we see. We cannot see the other side of the story. We also love and respect the family involved and wish them the very best and we continue to pray for them. Many facts have been left out in order to protect privacy and to make sure that we remain edifying to all parties. That said, no question about it, this was a loss for us and factored into the decision for embryo adoption.

So, here goes:

3 years ago we met a young high school girl who was looking to put the daughter that she was currently pregnant with up for adoption. I was actually visiting with this young lady’s mother who was grieving the placement of this baby but felt like it would be a good thing-she just was having a difficult time with losing her grandchild. At the time, my friend did not know that we were looking to adopt in the future. When I told her that she went home to her daughter and asked her daughter what she thought about allowing us to adopt the baby. I don’t want to say too much here but there was not a very good situation in the young girl’s life at the time and there were complications to her parenting KK with the father or alone. We met the birthmom, she liked us and was happy to have us adopt the baby although she didn’t say a lot- you know it has to be excruciating to think about giving up your life, the life inside you. She wanted her baby to have a strong loving home though.

We completed the paperwork with the lawyer for a private adoption and began the joy of going through the appointments, ultrasound, and ultimately birth with her. What joy to hear KK’s heart beat for the first time, to meet with the OB and to text with her and hear about her contractions as each day we were closer and closer to meeting our little KK.

We got out the crib, set up the baby room (in Lexi’s room) and got all of the fun baby things out. We tried to love on everyone and I remember comforting the birth grandma and letting her know how much I wanted her to be involved with the baby- we will call her KK to protect her identity. We kept part of the name from the birth mom and changed only a little bit of it. It actually is a name we really really love and may use in the future. I even was able to relactate! My son was almost a year old and I had recently weaned him. With the help of a lactation medication I was able to restore a supply of mild in the 3 months leading up to KK’s birth.

KK’s birthday came and we were blessed to be with her mom, grandma, grandpa, at her birth. I remember holding KKs mom’s hand and arm while she labored and she was so strong as she beautifully delivered this amazing little girl.Birth (38) Birth (31) Birth (29) Birth (12)Birth (35)

 The nurse showed her to mom and family but KK was hungry so she gave her to me to nurse. She took to me perfectly, naturally, easily. I felt like that was my child. The fact that she was not my genetics never even came to my mind. My body responded properly and I was making as much as she needed. I apologize in advance if this picture below is offensive. I love breast feeding and part of the preparation for KK was an intensive amount of pumping so I could feed my adopted child. This bonding made her feel like she was mine!Luke and Lexi

Looking back on it, I cannot imagine the pain and torment KK’s birthmom was in as I was feeding comforting loving her child. Or, was she trying to block it all out, was it ok- she knew the baby would have a good home, she knew we could give her a sister, brother, love and support in every way. We wanted her to be part of the family too. This would be a very Open adoption. I had brought the baby bag to the hospital, I had brought her going home outfit, her bows, her diapers, her blankets, her embroidered bibs, burbs, and bags all with her name.

The kids came up to see her and take pictures with her as did many friends! From these next few pictures you can see the joy on my daughter’s face- she was just glowing- she had a sister!

Luke and Lexi (17)Luke and Lexi (16)

Seeing KK for the first time hands to her face and then over her mouth and then on her heart.  Luke and Lexi (15)

One Proud Big Sister! Luke and Lexi (29) Proud Little Brother Too- He was even so excited for his sister!Luke and Lexi (28) Luke and Lexi (23)

Mom and her Girls!

Luke and Lexi (34)

We stayed in rooms next to each other in the hospital. KK stayed with me mostly and some of the time stayed with mom. When she was hungry I fed her and I cannot tell you how well my body responded. I made more and more and more milk because of the connection with KK (remember I had been pumping for 3 months to get ready and very little was made every day). Now I was flowing and she was eating, I remember holding that precious baby and loving it and I absolutely felt like she was mine. It was as if she had come out of my very own body. She was mine! The whole time we were in the hospital we knew that mom couldn’t sign away rights until 48  hours after birth. I wish I could say that was an easy time but we were kind of in a wait and see attitude. Would we get to keep this precious one as we had been told? Could birth mom really do it? Or would she decide she can’t live without KK. Papers were signed allowing us to take KK home for the social worker.

5-6-10 5-6-10 (6) 5-6-10 (2)

The second night in the hospital the birth mom asked if she could keep KK that night. Something grew in the pit of my stomach, something I had probably been ignoring for a long time. I remember hearing KK cry that night through the hospital wall and my heart just broke. I knew she wanted me and would be comforted. Then, just before discharge from the hospital, the news arrived that the birth mom was going to take KK home. I was not going to have the privilege of mothering this child.

It is a tough thing to explain, I had been very public about all of this adoption. That taught me a lesson for the future opportunities to keep them very quiet until they are absolutely going to happen. Then to leave the hospital without a child in hand was crushing. My mom was at home ready to meet her new granddaughter. I couldn’t go directly home to the kids as broken as I was. I ended up going to Patty Lynn Weber’s home and just cried and she kindly held me and cried with me. (For some reason Paul and I had two cars at the hospital.) I am so honored that she took time out to comfort me at that hour. I really needed her. When we did get home we had to tell Lexi and Luke that KK was not going to be ours after all. I was sort of numb for a few days. I had booked a photographer to take her pictures (newborn pictures) when she was only a few days old. This photographer also had an adopted daughter so she wanted to love on the birthmom as well as me. She took some gorgeous pictures (I took the clothes I had picked out for her and a beautiful headband to the photog prior to the session).  KK is an absolutely beautiful baby. That day the photog offered to help the birthmom if she ever needed anything.  It was arranged that the photog would keep KK the next day so birthmom could go see her boyfriend who had not been able to see his daughter yet. He lived a few hours away.  She would have the baby for the whole day so she asked if I would like to come over and love on her and take care of her. I said yes absolutely and spent several hours that day with KK. In those hours I was able to say good bye to this little girl, only 72 hours old (and already with a baby sitter for the entire day) that I had prayed for, loved, prepared for and thought was mine. I don’t think anything can prepare you for that kind of loss.

Actually, there is one thing that can protect you from that loss- guarding your heart. I cried for days, we cried as a family, Lexi and Luke were a little younger so they were not as aware of everything. My mom was angry, angry because she felt like the birthmom had taken us on a ride. (I don’t think she did it intentionally.) We had to heal as a family and we went through many emotions of the pain and the loss and I learned that expectation means a lot. I continue to learn this about myself- I need to manage my expectations because if I can set out for others what I can and cannot do, and if I have clear ideas of how things are going to work than I am better able to operate.  Even then, we never know what tomorrow will hold. God is the only one there already.

2010-05-07 20.14.44

This was her crib all ready for her. The next Sunday was mother’s day and the dress in the crib was for her to wear to be dedicated. Her crib had actually been given to us by the birth family so we disassembled it and returned it to them. The linens were Lexi’s and I have them put up waiting on another little girl to join our family. Perhaps this is the hardest thing for me to submit to the Father- the desire for another little girl. Lexi wants a sister, I want another daughter. I wonder if some of that desire is placed by God or is some of that desire is due to this loss. I am not sure but I trust God to give us what we need not what we want. We are submitted to Him. As soon as I say that though I immediately think “OK, God- I am submitted to you …….but could you please do it my way?” Isn’t that crazy! We all have things that we need to constantly give back to the Father, for me the desire for a girl is one of them.

5-9-10 (7)

And just like that May 6th, 2010 was over and we were moving on to all sorts of events- dance recitals, all of the end of the year things that I had problem solved how to do with our sweet little girl. Each event passed and it slowly became easier. I did not go to baby dedication that weekend. The loss was just days old at that point and I couldn’t do it!

Current Update!

We saw KK at the pool park last summer. She played with Luke and he has no idea that this cute curly haired girl was once to have been his sister. I smiled and waved at her mom. I wasn’t hurt or angry anymore. It was ok KK has a home, it just isn’t ours.

If you had lived through this experience then it would make an impression on you. The desire to not bond with a baby (even before it is born) and have a mom change their mind is a little like ripping your heart out. All we could do was pray that God would reveal himself to this child. I love this family- especially KK’s Grandma- and we still pray for that little girl!

This is one reason embryos were attractive- the genetic parents want their children to have homes. They are giving out of love. The gift is given and set in stone long before the baby arrives.

Link

Amanda Watson Caring Bridge

Lexi attends a private school about 30 minutes from her home. A 3rd grader at her school recently underwent a surgery to remove a tumor in her brain. She is just embarking on the journey through radiation, chemo, and countless therapy appointments. Could you all join me in prayers and encouragement for this sweet family! The have not announced the etiology of the cancer yet but would love any encouragement or love you can send her way. I follow their caringbridge and would be happy to repost at any time!