So besides the questions on adopting in general, the major question about our journey is, “Why embryo adoption?”
Embryo adoption means that we will choose two embryos that have been donated by a couple who went through IVF to have children, but did not use all the embryos that were created for them. These couples, once their own family is complete, can choose to destroy their remaining embryos, donate them to research (which results in their destruction) or donate them to another couple. Once we are ready to start (when we have all the finances in line), we will choose our embryos, and from that point, it will be just like I am going through IVF. I will take medication to prepare my body to receive the embryos, and they will be thawed and transferred into my womb, where, Lord willing, they will implant and develop just like any other pregnancy.
So, why this route? Why not focus on all the orphans already born, the ones who are living in foster care or orphanages? The ones in third world countries who don’t have enough food or medicine? Why bring more babies in the world, calling it adoption, instead of adopting the ones who desperately need families?
Once a family has surrendered to the Lord regarding adoption, there are several routes they can take. You are familiar with these routes: international adoption, domestic adoption, adopting from foster care, private adoption. Clay and I considered all of these over the years as we dreamed about the day we could finally pursue adoption ourselves. They are all good options. They all involve welcoming into your family someone who was once not your family. They are all a picture of the gospel. We have friends or family who have adopted through all of those routes. They are all needed, all beautiful, and in choosing embryo adoption and writing here about why we did and some of the pros of embryo adoption, we are not at all trying to elevate one form of adoption over another.
But none of the more traditional routes seemed right for us. We knew God wanted us to adopt, but as we considered and researched all of these routes, nothing felt like it was the way we should go. We did linger on foster care for awhile, and were just about ready to look into the training, but still could not feel settled.
Until one day in January 2016, when I was researching adoption again and stumbled upon a reference to embryo adoption. Instantly, I remembered a long-forgotten article that I had read several years earlier by Russell Moore: Is Embryo Adoption Immoral? This 2010 article was the first time I had ever heard of embryo adoption. I remember, now, thinking then, “That’s really cool. I would totally do that.” But as time passed, I forgot. During all the conversations we had about adoption, the subject of embryo adoption never re-entered my memory. Until now. I read and researched all the rest of the afternoon, growing more excited with every link I clicked.
When Clay got home, I asked him to read something and handed him my phone. I watched him closely as he read about embryo adoption. I knew then that this was it, this was the path we would take, and I think by the time he finished reading, he knew it, too.
Everything fit. I had loved being pregnant, and had been really good at it, by the grace of God. I had easy, textbook pregnancies, easy deliveries. I had loved carrying my babies, loved feeling them grow and move inside me, loved nursing them during their first year of life. I had grieved the end of that season of my life for quite a long time after Lydia was born, longer than I had expected. As excited as I was about adoption, I was still sad that I would miss that process with this new child. Suddenly, I realized that I didn’t have to. I could have the best of both worlds. It seemed like the perfect solution.
We believe life begins at conception, a belief shared by most of the evangelical world. If this is true, then the estimated 600,000-1,000,000 embryos frozen in storage facilities are lives that have already begun, but have not yet been allowed to grow and develop and be born.
We have already been asked why we would focus on embryos, instead of the orphans already born. “Why not just leave them there? They aren’t suffering, aren’t being abused, aren’t starving. Why not rescue the ones already born instead of bringing more children into the world?” I can see where this question would come from, but to us, it’s a matter of remembering that we are not bringing new lives into the world. They’re already here, already created, already bearing the image of God, and yet in limbo, frozen. It’s a totally strange phenomenon, one that’s difficult to wrap my brain around. Alive, yet frozen. Are they suffering? I guess not, at least not in the sense of other orphans around the country and the world. But is it wrong to choose them to adopt instead of the orphans already born? Absolutely not. If not adopted, they will be destroyed. A life destroyed that could have lived. That breaks my heart. There are a million, or close to it. We can choose two, two who will be given a chance to live.
And, practically speaking, the costs of embryo adoption are a fraction of the costs of traditional adoption. So, while the $15,000 is still something that we don’t have on hand, something we need the Lord to provide, it’s a far cry from the tens of thousands we would need to adopt domestically or internationally.
In some ways, the risks are fewer. By carrying the babies myself, I can control their environment in the womb, which means there will be no risk to the baby of being born addicted to drugs or alcohol. Because the genetic parents have already donated their embryos and relinquished all legal rights, there is no fear of a birth parent changing her mind. These babies have not had to face abuse. By all means, I in no way mean to imply that children with these histories and stories should be avoided by adoptive parents or that they are “less than” in any way. But drug addiction and abuse are weighty issues that require special attention and care, and not all adoptive couples have the means, support, or capability to care for children with these issues. So embryo adoption could be a good option for those who long to adopt but may not be able to adopt a child with special needs.
Risk is not nonexistent, however. There has been much progress in the IVF/fertility field, but there is still a chance that the embryos may not survive the thawing process, and if they do survive the thawing process, there is a chance that they may not survive the transfer process and implant into my womb. There is also only limited information about the genetic history and health of the biological family.
The thought of going through this whole process, sharing it publicly, being the recipient of so many generous gifts to pay for it, and then the babies not surviving is one that drives me to my knees, begging God for the lives of these babies and for the faith to trust His good hand. But I can firmly say right now that even if they don’t survive, it will be worth it. At least they will die being given a chance to live.
We don’t know what the end of this road looks like. We just know God has led us here, to this point, and we are following Him through whatever turns lie ahead. And by choosing embryo adoption for our family, we are not saying that it is any better than any other adoption path, or that any other path should be avoided. A child in need of a family is a child in need of a family. This is just the path that we are walking and we pray the path leads to two new babies at our house sometime next year.
Will you join us in that prayer? And would you consider giving financially to help us along the path? The medical costs are about $15,000, plus extra expenses for travel, etc. To help meet this need, we are doing a puzzle fundraiser. You can be a part of helping us add pieces to our family puzzle by sponsoring a puzzle piece. We have ordered two blank puzzles, with a total of 418 pieces. You can sponsor a piece for $35. When you give a gift of $35, we will write your name on one of the puzzle pieces. We will hang the completed puzzles in our home, to have a visual reminder of all those who helped build our family puzzle.
You can give at least $35 to have your name included on our puzzle, or give any other amount, via PayPal, mail, or in person. You can give via PayPal at http://www.paypal.me/hallembryoadoption or by mail at Hall Embryo Adoption, PO Box 92, Grand Rivers, KY, 42045. (Make checks out to Clay or Monica Hall.)
Also, if you would like to receive periodic email updates along the way, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add you to the list.
We appreciate all who have already given and shared encouragement with us. Please continue praying for us, and please consider sharing these posts. The main thing we have heard from people is, “I’ve never heard of this!” It is our prayer that while God leads us on this journey, He could use our story to spread awareness of embryo adoption so that more can hear, and hopefully more embryos will be adopted and given a chance to live.