One of the problems with in vitro fertilization is that unused or unwanted embryos are often discarded or destroyed. Unfortunately in 2011, a study in the journal of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine revealed that 19% of unused embryos are discarded and 3% are donated for scientific research.
However, thankfully, there are many people advocating for “embryo adoptions,” which is the implanting of unwanted or unused embryos in an adoptive mothers’ womb. Although this doesn’t remove all the ethical concerns with artificially creating human beings, it does provide an alternative to discarding embryos and destroying lives.
Currently in the United States, there are several non-profits who promote embryo adoption. The most well-known is Snowflakes Embryo Adoption and Donation, which has helped more than 350 couples successfully bring their own children into the world.
Their website says, “Each snowflake is frozen. We understand that each snowflake is unique. Each snowflake is a gift from heaven. For more than 17 years the Snowflakes team of professionals has enabled families to choose who will receive their gift of remaining embryos. They have helped fulfill the dreams of people who have yearned to hold their infant child.”
When Becky and Chris Henderson decided to use in vitro to start their family, they decided to keep their 11 unused embryos on ice because they believed life began at conception. Now another family has been blessed by the Henderson’s unused embryos.
Two couples have been blessed by one couple’s decision to donate their unused embryos and adopt them out to other couples in need.
“We have been blessed with three when we didn’t think we’d have one, so, what kind of awesome thing is it to bless another couple and let them experience the same kind of joy we did?” Becky Henderson told USA Today.
Henderson and husband Chris gave birth to twins via in vitro fertilization and then had a “miracle baby” five years later. After the twins were born, the couple still had 11 embryos frozen; they decided to keep them on ice until they could come to a decision about what they wanted to do. They both believe that life begins at conception, so they decided to place the embryos up for adoption. Eventually, they found Kelli and Dan Gassman, who were looking to have a family of their own.
The four decided to have an “open adoption” and after the Gassmans welcomed son Trevor and, two years later, daughter Aubrey, they still remain close. They share pictures of the children, who are biologically related.
“It was kind of like a joining of hearts,” Gassman said.
“Having an open adoption with communication helps you get over the fears and the doubts,” Becky said. “The what-ifs? It helps get beyond that.”
Now that the Gassmans have their own children, they have returned the remaining unused embryos to the Hendersons. The Hendersons have found another family to help and will continue to do so until all of the embryos are used.