Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
My son has a new favorite toy. This is the dinosaur that we bought him for his birthday. He calls it Dino and it’s become his new best friend. Today, he decided Dino needed to go for a ride on his bike while Mommy was typing on the computer. This new friendship is just so cute I thought I’d share it with everyone. Here are some pictures I’ve taken over the past few days.
He was so tired we didn't wake him to put on p.j's. Yep, Dino was right there by his side.This was the following day. This was yesterday.
Bailey is the section leader for the flutes and was standing her post
The band was wearing their casual shirts and not the full band uniforms because of the heat
Addison practicing her dance
Levi was not too excited about taking his picture with the cardinal LOL
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Explanation of Embryo Adoption
In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is the process of harvesting eggs and sperm from the parents and uniting them in a petri dish. The resulting fertilized embryos (not eggs, which are just gametes and is often mistakenly said) are then transferred to the mother's uterus where the hope is that they will successfully implant and grow to a full term pregnancy and delivery. Because the conditions under which the embryos are created are so much harsher than the natural womb environment, a lot of them do not survive the process. They can die at any number of stages. For this reason fertility clinics and IVF patients often start with numbers of embryos that exceed the number of actual children they can or want to carry. If successful pregnancy is achieved, many patients freeze the remaining embryos for transfer at a later time. Often however, the genetic couple decides to not have or attempt to have any more children and there are still embryos remaining.
Typically there are a few options for what to do with the remaining embryos. Some people donate them to science for research and things such as embryonic stem cell research. Some people choose to leave them frozen indefinitely. Some people ask for them to be intentionally destroyed. Some do what is falsely called a "compassionate transfer" in which they are transferred to the mother's uterus at her non-fertile time in her cycle, giving them very little chance to actually implant, at which time they would be expelled by her body. The remaining option is to donate them to another couple through either Embryo Donation or Embryo Adoption.
In that case, the embryos are transferred to the prospective parents' clinic, where they are transferred to the new mother's uterus, with the hope that they will implant and result in a term pregnancy and live birth.
It's important to note the difference between "transfer" and "implantation." In IVF or Embryo Donation/Adoption, embryos are transferred to the mother, meaning a catheter is inserted in to the uterine cavity through the vaginal and cervical passages, and the embryos are then "injected." Just as in natural conception, when the embryos are released from the fallopian tubes in to the uterine cavity, they must find a place in the uterine wall to burrow and "implant." In an Embryo Transfer, after they're injected, the Embryos must go through the same process of finding a spot in the uterine wall to nest and grow. It is not inserted directly in to the uterine wall. In Embryo Transfer, doctors do their best to "aim" for the most favorable position, but it is still up to God and nature if the embryo is going to successfully implant and grow.
Embryo Donation is similar to a sperm bank. The genetic parents donate their extra embryos to the clinic or bank and the prospective parents go to the bank and select their sample(s). The 4 parents know little (if anything) about each other.
In Embryo Adoption the process is executed largely like a traditional adoption. The Genetic Parents contact the adoption agency with the intent to donate, as well as their criteria for adoptive parents. Criteria can range from age, to race to desired level of openness about the adoption. However, the embryos remain at the Genetic Parents' own clinic and are never transferred to the adoption agency.
The Adoptive Parents (us!) contact the adoption agency, and submit an application and biographies about ourselves. We also undergo the same Adoption Education, Homestudy and Court Certification process that traditional adoption applicants undergo. We also undergo a host of medical tests (some are FDA required) to ensure that we don't have any disease we could pass on, and to make sure I can actually carry a child.
Anyway, once all of that is completed, approved and accepted by the Adoption Agency, we begin the match process. We're put in to their pool of prospective parents and we wait for a genetic family to choose us. Once they do and both they and we agree to the match, they transfer "ownership" of their embryos directly to us, and we undergo a Frozen Embryo Transfer. If successful pregnancy is achieved and there are still remaining embryos, we store those at our own clinic until a future time when we would attempt a second or third pregnancy with the remaining embryos.
Once a successful pregnancy and birth is achieved, we notify the adoption agency and they notify the genetic parents. We also notify the agency periodically and genetic parents can receive those updates if they wish. Whether or not there is contact directly between the genetic parents and us, or between them and the child(ren) is up to all of us and the arrangement we make.
Legally, Embryo Adoption doesn't exist, and none of this extra procedure of homestudy, matching, application, etc, is necessary. Because the law does not grant personhood to pre-born children, they are considered "Property" and any transfer is considered a property transfer. Opponents of the term "embryo adoption" accuse this of being some sneaky way of legitimizing the embryo as a person, and I suppose it may be so, but for us there is comfort in knowing that should we ever need it, we have access to the genetic parents for any medical information, etc. For the genetic parents I think there is comfort in knowing the fate of their embryos, wherein with Embryo Donation, they would not ever know what happened to them. I guess I don't understand people who needlessly politicize it. If it's agreeable for both parties and we all willingly enter a more difficult process, what is it to anyone else?
Our next steps are to apply to both adoption agencies (because we live out of state from the agency that coordinates the actual embryo adoption, we have to use an Kansas agency in cooperation with them to complete the Homestudy and Court Certification), then begin the homestudy and make an appointment with the fertility clinic to undergo the required tests. A homestudy and court certification takes 3-6 months, and then once approved we can enter the pool to be matched. That can take any number of months, depending on how desirable we are. Then from match to transfer can take another couple months to negotiate the logistics between moving the embryos, getting my body on the right cycle at the right time, etc. So assuming we can progress through the financial end of things and get the ball rolling soon.
The Placement Agency that we're using (Jen and her hubby), Nightlight Christian Adoption Agency in Fullerton, CA., is the pioneer of the "Embryo Adoption" concept. They have called their program the "Snowflake" adoption program, comparing the uniqueness of each embryo to the uniqueness of every snowflake. So we may use "Snowflake Adoption," "Snowflake Embryos," "Snowflake Babies/Children" and "Snowflake Families" interchageably with "Embryo Adoption [subject]." I think the "Snowflake" concept is really beautiful. These children, whoever and wherever they are, are already so dear to our hearts!
* (Richard and I will most likely not go the snowflake, adoption agency route and handle things directly between ourselves, the genetic parents, and our attorneys. The process is much the same as our domestic adoptions. We will still do a homestudy and all testing required by law.)
The whole process is overwhelming. The cost of everything is about $13000-$15000. The details involve an entirely new alphabet soup and list of legal and medical mumbo-jumbo that make my head spin. Things have to be done at the right time, in the correct order. And at the end of it, if none of the embryos successfully implant in me, we still may not have a child at the end of it.
However, though I feel a bit like I'm on mental overload--I'm afraid I'm going to forget or overlook a detail and that the pile of information in my head is going to be so big that things fall out!--I have a remarkable amount of peace about the situation. I'm not at all worried about the homestudy or the matching process and I'm not afraid of embryos not implanting. I'm not really worried about the money either--though I am a bit impatient that something so trivial as money is the only barrier right now, I can also see that it's a very tangible need that God can use to orchestrate His timing of our process so that comforts me too.
We're really excited.
We would ask our friends and family to refrain from referring to this process as "buying" children or embryos and please don't call the resulting children "bought" children. Please don't say it in seriousness or in jest. The doctor's office today used some of that terminology and it made me wince. Though legally these embryos may be regarded as the same as a car or a house, they are children in the sight of God. If we truly believe that life begins at fertilization (we do), then these children need a home as much as the children in foster homes and orphanages do and we are their best chance at survival. We're willingly and wholeheartedly making the decision to enter the more complicated and expensive adoption process rather than the donation process, so that we can be fully equipped with as many resources of knowledge and training as we can before we begin shepherding these precious little ones. In our heart, this is an adoption, whether the law says so or not. Please support and affirm us by considering it the same way.
It's also helpful to note some terminology. The embryo's "original" parents are the Genetic Parents. We are the Adoptive Parents but the child(ren) will be ours. We refrain from using words like "real parents" and "real children" and "children of our own" when distinguishing between the genetic and adopted relationships. The only distinction between any adopted children and any biological children is just that--biology. We will love these children with our whole hearts, as our own.
Obviously if we have remaining embryos after the fact (Richard, myself, and the genetic family) we will seek a third family to adopt them. In our minds, all children, in "the system" and in test tubes, need homes. That prospect is a little overwhelming but as my sister in law pointed it out, we're each only to do what we're called and equipped to do. Right now we're wholeheartedly convinced that we are called in this season to pursue Embryo Adoption.
Please feel free to ask any questions!
Written by Jen and taken from her web blog for her personal embryo adoption.
*Edited for personal comments and tweaked to fit our situation. Tracy
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
I was told by my doctor that although, my uterus is now in a good place to carry a pregnancy and do an embryo adoption, it will not stay that way. In time my uterus will produce cancer. I'm currently taking provera to hold off cycles and monitoring by sonograms as we wait. Once we’ve birthed, I have agreed to have a full hysterectomy. My Dr…. and very loving Mother, would like to see this happen and not put it off any longer than necessary. Knowing our deep desire to finish our family by embryo adoption, the advice I was given was to share my story with everyone who would listen and see what God will do.
So here I am…
I know that this is something that God has spoken to my heart that we will do. I just often have a hard time understanding why we have to wait under such circumstances to do it. Most days I feel like I eat, sleep, and live within a ticking time clock of this desire. I guess I have always had this with infertility. But, these days it seems to scream louder than usual.
I’m constantly seeking the Lord and His peace and have felt His hand of comfort and reassurance that He will finish what He has started within my life. I just have to continue to remind myself that I can’t and was never meant, to hold all of the emotions that come along with waiting, bottled up inside. I’m just not that strong!
So today…again, I find myself at the feet of Jesus, asking Him to help me push through this day and keep my focus upon the joys of being a mother and having so many blessings in my life. It’s truly a battle at times to keep a proper perspective when your heart longs for something so strong. Periodically, I have to do focus checks. Kind of like an attitude check only it’s more of where and what is my heart and eyes fixed upon? Is it upon what I don’t have or how is this ever going to work out? Or, is it upon believing that He is able to do all things in His time… And the biggest thing is trusting that timing. It’s all about laying my heart, my longing, and my desire before Him and leaving it there.
I have a life verse that speaks volumes to my aching heart. It's…
1 Peter 5:10
“ But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.”
I love this verse because, I feel the last 20 years of waiting and struggling with a desire for children has changed, established and strengthened me.
Oh, but I long... I so long, to have Him finish the work of putting our family together and finally, once and for all, settling me.
I seem to pray more and more these day...Lord Jesus, please come quickly and finish that work You've begun in me and forever quiet that desire You've placed in my heart and settle me.
Monday, September 8, 2008
Here we go…
What denomination of Christian are you?
How many frozen embryos would you want to be responsible for?
If we felt the match was God, I would gladly accept any and all embryos you had to offer. But, I would also want to know that you felt your family was finished. I wonder how your heart would handle me birthing your genetic children if you still had a desire for them…Even if that desire was for years down the road.
One thing about our family is that we feel God has called us to be an example for others to follow. That is why we are so open with our story, longings, and adoptions. We feel so strongly about this that God has even given us a ministry called Living Stones. Our ministry has a dream of putting together a Life Center that would be a walk through exhibit that would encourage life, healing from abortion, and adoption (International, domestic, foster, and embryo).
If I were to give you my embryos, would you be able to make the same pledge to me and to God that you will not have a single one
If you were to get pregnant, would you be willing to work with me to find another adoptive family for any embryos you did not want to
Yes, Yes, Yes!!! My heart sings with this thought! I know that the reason God is walking us down this road is because one day, our ministry will be helping/ encouraging others to not be afraid to adopt in this fashion. I love the idea of allowing these little ones life and not to remain frozen for years and years without that opportunity. But, I’d have to say that I’d want to pick a family that Loves the Lord and will want to have an open adoption relationship with both of our families. It’s important to me that all of the children and families stay close and really know each other.
With your other children's adoptions, please explain your level of openness with the birth mothers and how you feel about open adoption. How have you honored your promises to your
Then one day, the Lord spoke to my heart. He reminded me that I could trust Him with my babies and building our family. He then reminded me that I could also trust Him with the relationships I had with their birth parents and that I needed to lose the fear and allow Him to work. I knew He was right. Although, I was still very unsure that I wasn’t making the biggest mistake of my life, I drove to Michelle’s house and invited her and her daughter that was a year younger than Bailey, to our house for the afternoon.
So down came the wall of fear and from that day forward, the Lord bonded our relationship tightly. You asked about our level of openness, well let me tell you, it couldn’t be any more open than it is. She and Kathryn sit next to our family each Sunday at church and each Thur. for Bible study. We eat meals together, they come play games at our house, watch movies, we do each other’s dishes, yard work, attend each other’s kid’s school functions, sports, shopping…you name it, we’ve done it. Our families interact so much that it’s not a thought out thing. We just do it.
The thing that makes our relationship work is that there is a mutual respect for our family. I don’t fear that she is trying to be Bailey’s parent or compete for her affection and because of that, I’ve moved her in so close to us, she naturally gets what her heart desires…to really know us and Bailey. The other thing that makes our relationship work is that her focus in not just on Bailey. She loves all of my children. All of my kid’s birth parents feel this way. The focus is never just upon the child they birthed, but all of our children. When they buy presents, or something, they buy all of the kids the same or equal value. They recognize each of the children for who they are and the kids know it too.
Addison’s birth parents are just the same. They live farther from us so most of our contact is through the email, phone, or if they happen to be driving our way and can stop to see us…OH and we get together for Christmas. (Usually, we celebrate our Christmas together in November because both of our families are just so busy during Dec.) Julie is also my party planner. Shes so good at making our kid's birthday parties fun. We just love them so much!
Bailey’s birth father and his family just met us for the first time this year but, you wouldn’t know it if we didn’t tell you. Our families have bonded so quickly that we’ve made up for lost time. They have all of the toys so we go boating with them, the girls go 4-wheeling (they still have not gotten me on them yet LOL). Our families have a blast together and we seem to miss them the more we see them. LOL Their precious family locked into our hearts and lives and we will never let them go.
Levi’s situation is a bit different but we are still working on it and hope that one day soon, we will have the kind of relationships that we have with the other birth families. We’re still working on it though… I have a hard time accepting closed adoption I guess. LOL
How would your family and our family recognize who we are to the children born through embryo adoption?
How I put it to my birth families, is that God put our family together from completely different genetics, and so in our family, we don’t place an emphasis upon the genetics, but more upon the family unit itself. Our family is very tight and our children are very bonded as siblings. It would not feel good to them or our family to have an outside family (birth family) dividing that closeness by placing special emphasis upon their birth child and the fact that they are genetically theirs. So, we’ve ( Our family and our birth families) all trained our children to not focus there, but rather to know each other and love each other for the families that God has placed them in.
With that clear, we just live our lives with our families very close and are open with the truth of each of their birth stories if the need to share comes up.
Titles in our family are important to keep clear. Just as I won’t share my title as Mom... our children only recognize the kids within our family as siblings and our personal extended family as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. My children call their birth parents by their first names and the same for the rest of their birth parents families.
Yes, if both of our families feel that the match is right, we would be open to receiving your one embryo. We are also open to the idea that if God brings to our attention two families who only have one or two to offer, we’d be open to doing what is called a mixed batch. (Sorry that sounds so odd but, that is what it’s called.) The chances of achieving a pregnancy is better to implant more than one embryo. We would consider doing a mixed batch of no more than three embryos. If a pregnancy was achieved, we would do a paternity test (if needed) after the baby or babies were born to know the genetic families of the child(ren). This paternity test is done by a swab of saliva in the child’s mouth as well as the genetic families and is painless.
What if we only have one embryo to offer your family, would you be willing to take it?
Are you an honest person in your dealings with your fellow brothers and sisters here on earth?
I hope this has answered many of the questions a donor family might have regarding our desire to do an open embryo adoption. If you have more questions feel free to email me and we can talk more.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Richard (42), Tracy (39)
Richard and I have been happily married for 20 years. We've lived those 2o years with the knowledge, that we would never naturally conceive a biological child of our own. Early in our walk with infertility we attempted to achieve a pregnancy through DI and on our final try, were told we were pregnant. Our hearts were overjoyed but, this joy was short lived as I miscarried our precious little one.
We were devastated. We couldn't understand why God would place such a deep rooted desire for children in our hearts and then take our baby from us. Wounded and completely humbled, we sought the Lord and decided to not pursue further treatments and instead, left our desire for a family in the Lord's hands.
It was not long after our miscarriage that God showed us He had another plan. We now have three beautiful children, all brought into our family through separate open adoptions.
Bailey, Addison, & Levi
God has shown us that we can trust Him to build our family. Our adoption journey has been a long one but, the Lord has NEVER failed us and we've learned that He only has the best in store for us. With each child, we were able to witness their births... although, with our son, I witnessed his birth but, had no idea at the time, that he was to be my son. It's funny how God works.
Bailey was born right around the same time that our baby that was miscarried, would have been. What a beautiful comfort to a wounded heart she was. I never could imagine I could love a child so deeply as I did, the moment I placed my eyes upon her.
Bailey's Birth...I was so scared to hold her. Thought I might drop her. LOL
After seeing what God could do...we started praying for a second child. Each night we'd pray with our daughter Bailey for God to bring us a baby brother and Bailey would interrupt our prayers and correct us...as she'd say, she wanted a sister. I know God was listening to her because 6 years later, God brought us Addison.
Addi was such a wonderful surprise. I still get teary-eyed, as I think back on the miraculous way God worked to bring her to us.
This was the first time we were able to touch her...She was so tiny!
Now we were hooked! God had brought into our lives two such wonderful children, we hoped and prayed God would bless us again, with a third.
But... instead, He did something we did not expect. He opened our eyes to embryo adoption. Richard felt that it was something for us but, I was afraid to step in that direction for fear it was not the Lord's will for us. That night, the Lord spoke to my heart that indeed, it was. We were overjoyed and thought that it would be something that God would do that year but, to our weariness, it has been over 6 years and we are still waiting.
As our eyes stayed focused upon embryo adoption, the Lord wonderfully surprised our family with the addition of our son, Levi.
Levi came through our ministry and I witnessed his birth but, at the time, had no idea he was to be my son. He entered our family at 13 months and our love for him was just as strong, as it was for our daughters. Even with joining our family at 13 months we felt we'd never missed a beat in our bonding with him.
To be at his birth and have this photos is such a treasure! (I was holding him for his BM to see)
This road of adoption to build our family has been an amazing journey. One that I would never change! We've learned the lessons of waiting over the past 20 years as our family was being built. And now...our hearts are again, waiting to complete our family through frozen embryo adoption. We are currently, in the place of praying, praying, and praying some more, that God will bring us our Donor family and our precious embryo babies soon. We've learned that ALL things are possible and continue to pray for God to show His will for our lives.
It's my hope that in sharing our story and our pictures, that someone else might be encouraged. The road of infertility is so difficult and the hope of a child can be so hard to keep alive, as time moves slowly...ever so slowly and nothing seems to come. I want that person, that's waiting, to know..that God is in control and although time moves on and there seems no hope, God has a plan for you. His plan may not always be what we thought...but I've learned it's often times FAR better.
If He's placed a desire in you ....He will fulfill it. Weather it's a child conceived or a child received, God is at work and in His timing, ALL things will come to pass. I hope this encourages you on your journey. Even just posting this encourages me as we wait to finish ours. Blessings to you ...t.