Nate Birt and his wife Julie adopted frozen embryos through Nightlight’s Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program in 2017. In 2018, Julie gave birth to their adoptive daughter, Phoebe, from those little frozen embryos. Birt’s new book, Frozen, But Not Forgotten, provides potential adopting families with everything they need to know about the embryo adoption process. This is their testimony of their adoption experience.
I never expected to adopt. The concept wasn’t completely foreign—my wife, Julie, and I had discussed the possibility of adopting or fostering before we were married. But three years into building our family, we welcomed our first biological son, then a second, then a third.
Our interest in embryo adoption began with Julie’s work as a researcher in an obstetrics lab. As part of her studies, she witnessed firsthand the amazingly complex design of each embryo. We also knew of families within our circle of friends who had successfully adopted embryos. To be honest, the concept struck me as odd the first time I heard about it. When I suggested to my wife that we try for a fourth child, she replied, “Yes, but only through embryo adoption.”
Her comment took me off guard, and more than that, the conviction with which she said it. I’m not sure why. It shouldn’t have been a surprise given our history and our support of an adoption-funding organization that has helped many friends. I’m ashamed I didn’t appreciate the gift and honor of adoption back then.
I do now. More than ever.
Many families face infertility and remain steadfast in their faith throughout what I can only imagine must be a heart-wrenching journey. So why had God given us three of our own—yet planted the seed of adoption in our hearts? The answer was simple. We loved our biological children dearly, yet having come from large families, we had even more love to give.
By adopting embryos (we were blessed with three), we could give these children a chance at life. We made it clear to our prospective placing family in our letter of introduction that we had overflowing hope for these precious souls.
“Who knows what they might grow up to become—and how they might change the world for good,” we wrote.
Two years after beginning our adoption journey, we welcomed little Phoebe into our lives. (She was the one of which survived the thaw.) We committed to our incredible placing family that we would maintain an open adoption with regular correspondence and the possibility of an in-person visit in the future. Little did we know they lived less than two hours from our home, creating a perfect environment for nurturing a close relationship as our daughter grows up.
In short order, we began exchanging emails, following each other on social media, and generally sharing encouragement. Within two months of Phoebe’s arrival, our placing family had invited us over for a barbecue. It was a celebration I will never forget—of a family who loved its embryo babies so much that it kept them safe until the right time to place them; of our growing family finding its way with adoption; and of a strawberry-blond baby girl who fulfilled my wildest dream of being a daddy to a daughter.
Embryo adoption, as I imagine is true with any adoption, comes with risk and can be emotionally taxing. But if you seek children and the chance to demonstrate and receive love like never before, I urge you: Pursue it.
That clump of cells is a person. And that person will forever change your world for the better.
To learn more about the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program, visit Snowflakes.org or call our Colorado office at 970-663-6799.