First I have to start by showing my appreciation for all the love and support that has been poured out for Jonathan and me in response to this blog. Wow! We are really fortunate to have such wonderful loving people in our lives and I can't express to you how much it means to me to hear your words of encouragement. From people who are right here "in the trenches" with us to people who we haven't seen in years to those we have never met...our cup overflows y'all! A quote from one of our dear supporters and a fellow "sister in waiting" said "I think God prompting you to share your story is His way of giving this struggle a purpose". Wow! Words seemingly right from His mouth actually. In all the years of struggle and heartache and loss, if I'm able to give someone else hope or at the very least a listening ear and solidarity, then it was not all in vain. Praise God...He is good ALL the time!
This post is somewhat of a "thinking out loud" post as someone graciously posed a question to us here on the blog. The question was this:
"Rachel, I just wondered about what you might do with the rest of the embryos if any go unused. I had heard of Christians recently adopting out their unused frozen embryos rather than allowing them to be simply "discarded." You might end up using all of them, but I think as Christians it's an important question as we consider these little creations of the Father."
This question was asked by someone who I highly respect and admire. And I'm SO glad she asked it! It is actually a question I have preliminarily considered. In fleeting moments I've thought about what exactly we will do with any embryos that we don't use in an attempt to achieve pregnancy for ourselves. I say fleeting, only because it's a bit hard for me to look past the actual transfer itself. There's so much to be done first...so much that could go wrong potentially...and I've heard it said that "getting to the transfer stage is an achievement in itself". But I definitely *DO* believe that life begins at conception. If you've not read my post The Morning I Knew..., then you should go read it. Because that post will help you understand my stance on the matter. The minute that sperm meets egg it's a life. And a beautiful one. This is not going to turn into a pro-life vs. pro-choice conversation though. The question is simply, "If the embryos that are viable are lives, what happens to the tiny growing babies that don't get transferred?"
This is of course assuming we will have embryos to freeze. Let's not forget that so many many women don't make it to the embryo stage at all...much less have more embryos than what can be transferred in one treatment. We are hoping and praying for our story to be different, but that is yet another reason it's difficult for me to start considering this question. There is, after all, a chance we could never even make it to this stage. But in the interest of having clear plan for all circumstances...here are the options that doctors/clinics give you:
1) Use all your embryos and have a bigger family than you had "planned"
2) Thaw the embryos and discard them
3) Donate the embryos to science for research
4) Put them up for "adoption" for couples in need
Ok, so put yourself in my shoes. Is there an option that sticks out to you? Is there an option that makes you go "Yeah no way!"? Is there one that you're totally sold on? If you can make that decision in a split second, I commend you! For me, #2 is my absolute NO. Those are my babies and they are not "bio-waste"...
And then there's #1...which for me is the one that "sticks out". But then again, who knows how many "embabies" we will be successful in creating? Because #1 sounds fine if we've got like 4-6 embryos or less. Then you're talking a max of 4-6 kids and that's if every single transfer works. While that's a crazy big number, it's not completely unfathomable. But what if we end up with something in the tens or teens? Oh no. I love kids and I want a big family...but I am NOT Michelle Duggar!
So then there's #3. Controversial to say the least. While I see the merit here, I'm not sure it's for me necessarily. The thought of my babies being "lab rats" is a little unnerving. But the thought of them going on to help cure Parkinsons or cancer or something equally important seems valiant and purposeful. I go back and forth on that option...
And then #4. After some thought, this sounds like a beautiful option. I wouldn't be in the market to "sell" my embryos. Sounds a bit like embryo trafficking! But I think it would be a cool thing to be able to give someone else...especially in light of the struggles we have had. To be able to come full circle and not only be blessed with our own miracles, but to help make that happen for someone else. Cool! The reservation I have is the whole "running into my biological child on the street" kind of thing. There are "closed" and "open" embryo adoption options. I think for us, if we go this route, we would want it to be a closed adoption. There is also the cost of cryogenic storage which can range anywhere from $500/yr. to $2000/yr. We would basically be storing our embabies indefinitely until someone came along to adopt them. I'm not sure where I stand on the ethical implications of "indefinite storage". There's something, and I can't put my finger on it, that doesn't really sit well with me on this. Just a little sliver of something that I need to just pray about and ask God to shed some light on.
So if I had to choose right now today, what would I choose? For me, feet to the fire, it would be #1. Let's just do this. If God breathed life into those cells, then put em' in me and let's see what happens. But that's not my hard and fast answer. For now I think the answer is that the matter needs a lot more prayer and consideration on our part.
I mean...no pressure or anything right?? ;)