Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What Comes Next?

I've been thinking that if any of you are anything like me, you probably had never heard about embryo adoption before we mentioned it. So, I figured I'd write a little blogpost and kind of give you an idea of what the next steps will be for us. :)

Right now, we're still technically in the application phase with Nightlight, though we have been accepted by them. This is because they need our home study report and a few other documents before our file can be considered complete. So, we are working to get the home study finished up (should be sometime in Jan) and get the other documents together.

One of the documents we're working on is called a family profile. This document is sent out to prospective families to give them a peek into our world and see whether we match their preferences for their embryos' adoptive parents. So, it's kind of an important document. :) We're probably a quarter to a third of the way through that so far.

After all of the above documents are with the agency, we will have a pre-matching interview with a social worker from Nightlight, just to clarify exactly what we're looking for in genetic parents and our preferences for future contact with them.

Next comes what is called the "matching phase", which entails our profile being sent out to prospective families. This phase can involve a lot of waiting. It just kinda depends on the genetic families and their preferences as to how quickly you are chosen.

After a genetic family chooses us, we receive a bunch of info about them, including detailed medical history, info about the embryos themselves, and their family profile. We get to decide whether they are a match for us.

If we choose them, then we begin signing contracts that solidify the adoption!! :D

Next, travel is arranged for the embryos from the genetic family's fertility clinic to our clinic.

And...finally...the most exciting stage: frozen embryo transfer (FET): where the embryos (up to 3) are transferred to me and Lord-willing, I become pregnant! :D

Nightlight estimates that the whole process should take 5-13 months from start to finish, with it being on the lower end of that timeframe if you're not picky (which we aren't). So, who knows ~ this time next year we could have a baby in our arms! :D

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Our Little "Snowflake" :)

Please forgive me if this is rambly or long...I have a cold so my brain is all fuzzy at the moment. :)

As many of you would know, we have been pursuing a typical domestic adoption ~ an adoption in which a birthmother carries a child to term, then gives the child up for adoption ~ through a facilitator agency called Angel Adoption. (A birthmother has the option to change her mind up until about 2-3 days after birth. At this point, we would be able to pick the child up and bring him/her home.)

Roughly a month ago, we found information that indicated that the state of Alabama (where we currently reside) has strict laws prohibiting the use of advertizing by adoption agencies and facilitators (go-between groups between an adopting couple and an agency). The problem was, Angel Adoption at its core is a marketing and advertizing group for adopting parents, meaning they were performing services which seemed to directly contradict Alabama law.

This info kind of turned our world upside down. We hadn't even considered another agency, and we really didn't know where to start looking for a new one. All we knew was that, based on what we'd read, we needed to find a new agency. I have several friends who are also adopting, so I began looking into their agencies first. However, I just didn't feel a peace about any of them, even though they were great agencies.

Somewhere in the midst of reading about agency after agency, I came across one whose website looked "put together" (aka not like something thrown together over the weekend) and that was also a Christian agency. From the moment I opened the site, I just felt a peace wash over me, like God was saying "this is the one". I read many websites before and after that one, but I never found one like Nightlight's. So, I went back. :)

In reading about Nightlight's adoption programs, I came across something I'd never heard about before. I had only read a few details before my hubby arrived home from work, so I shared the details with him and we read on together. We were both fascinated, so much so that we never even got to looking at Nightlight's domestic adoption program that day. At one point, Caleb turned to me and said, "How do we do this program?"

I was surprised...I mean, I hadn't seriously been thinking about doing this program, but I was so fascinated by it. It seemed like the Lord was drawing our hearts to the program without us even fully realizing it. So, with much excitement, I downloaded the document detailing the requirements for the program. We read and read and seemed to only find more joy and excitement in all the details. :)

That is, until we read one little piece of information: for this particular program, Nightlight requires couples to be married 3 years prior to applying, and we have only been married 2 years 5 months. :/ That may seem like a no-brainer - just wait 7 more months and then apply. However, if we were to wait that long, our home study would only have 5 more months until it expired, meaning it may not last long enough for us to actually complete the adoption (home studies only last 1 year). So, we'd end up paying extra out (potentially) to do a home study update.

Something about waiting just didn't seem "right" in our spirits. So, we decided to inquire as to how hard-and-fast the 3 year marriage requirement is. A week passed, with no response. So, we began to look into the domestic adoption program that Nightlight offers. Perhaps we were wrong and that was the way to go? Yet, we never felt the peace or drawing to the domestic adoption program that we had for this other program. Another week passed, and we finally heard back about the program...

"The 3 year length of marriage language is actually more of a guideline than a requirement; the main focus is on how stable and healthy your relationship is."

Words cannot express how excited we were to hear this news!!!!

Soo...I guess you are all probably wondering WHAT this program entails if it is not a regular domestic adoption. :) Well, the program is called the Snowflake program. Here's what the website says about it:

"Did you know that you can carry and give birth to your adopted baby? The Snowflakes® Embryo Adoption Program makes it possible for you to adopt embryos from couples who have completed their IVF treatments and have remaining embryos. These embryos are currently stored in fertility clinics and are waiting to be adopted into loving homes."

Basically, when couples go in for IVF, they have multiple eggs removed and fertilized, creating embryos. Only some of the embryos created are implanted in the potential mother, leaving many left over. It is estimated that there are 500,000 frozen embryos in the United States ~ in essence, 500,000 lives frozen in time. However, these little lives can only be frozen for so long; in my reading I've read 10-12 years is normal. After this point, the embryos deteriorate and are typically not viable.

Embryo adoption involves the genetic parents having their leftover embryos sent to a fertility clinic near us, where some or all (up to 3) embryos will be implanted in me (Rebekah) at the right time in my cycle to God-willing achieve pregnancy. Then, all things going well, I will go through a normal pregnancy with our adopted child/ren and give birth. :)

In our minds and hearts, embryo adoption is such a beautiful picture of the Gospel ~ a life that is not genetically of us is being implanted within us and being made our own. In like manner, the life of Christ is implanted within us at the point of salvation and grows within to consume us.

Of course, there are many risks associated with embryo adoption, as with any adoption, but we are standing in faith believing that God can and will bring these precious lives to fruition. :)

Embryo adoption is something new and different to most people, so we certainly understand you may have questions. Feel free to ask them below! :)