“You cannot start a relationship on a lie and expect a high level of openness in return.” ~ A Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Mother
It is natural to be curious about our origins; and with programs such as Ancestry DNA and 23andMe, it has never been easier to get our hands on this information. This can be a great tool for discovering distant relatives or learning about your heritage. For those who are adopted, it can open a completely new world by answering questions and filling in the biological gaps. Unless the adopted person does not know that they are adopted…
Embryo adoption through the Snowflakes Program is a wonderful choice for family building! From pregnancy to bringing a newborn baby home, you get to experience all the joys and trials that any parent goes through. It can be easy to slide the fact that you adopted your child as an embryo under the rug. After all, you carried the child for nine months, gave birth, and have all of the photo evidence to prove it. While you can keep this private information from the cashier at Walmart, the soccer coach, and Gladys down the street, the most important person who needs to know that your child was adopted as an embryo, is your child.
It can feel very intimidating, and maybe you are just not sure where to begin. We recommend starting the second you bring your little one home from the hospital. There are two reasons behind this:
- Your child will never remember a moment you sat them down to tell them they were adopted. (Children who are sat down and told “at an age where they can understand adoption” tend to look back on that conversation as a traumatic experience as opposed to the adoption being normalized throughout their childhood.)
- You can get a feel for the words, themes, and methods you want to use to explain the story as your child grows. You might find it easier to use language young children may grasp more easily or find yourself using the actual terms; whichever one works best for you is great!
You might also find making a Lifebook for your adopted child to be helpful. Explain that you needed help having a baby, so a generous family whose family was complete placed their baby seed with your family. Include photos of the donor family, the day of the transfer, your child as an embryo, ultrasounds, pregnancy, and the baby. This is a great resource for adoptees that they can carry with them throughout life and look back on!
Children’s books are also great! What is better than normalizing their story by reading a book before bed? Snowflake Babies, Made with Love, The Pea That Was Me, and many others are wonderful stories that explain embryo adoption in ways that children can easily understand.
It is incredibly important to let embryo-adopted children know their origins. Secrets do not stay secrets, and that is especially true today with access to genetic testing at the tip of our fingers. When secrets do come out, relationships may become damaged as a result. Children may be left wondering, “My story is so taboo that we do not talk about it? Are my parents that ashamed of me?”
It can also be difficult as a parent of an embryo-adopted child, with thoughts of what will happen once the floodgate opens that they are biologically related to someone else. How will they react? Will they wish to go live with their genetic parents rather than us?
While these are normal fears to have, DNA does not make a family—love does. You will always be your child’s parents, not the man and woman who share DNA with them.
The most encouraging story we found on the subject is the story of Ingrid von Oelhafen, an infant abducted from Yugoslavia during World War II by German Nazis. When Ingrid was older, she began searching for her biological parents. After a lot of searching, she finally located them, but she said it made little difference in her life. Her memoir ‘Hitler’s Forgotten Children’ ends with this quote:
“It is enlightening to find our roots, but we are what we become through the lives we’re given.”
Talk to your children about the hard things and they in turn will talk to you about the hard things. Stay open and honest with your children, and respect them enough to tell them the truth—especially when it comes to their genetic origins. While it will be enlightening, it will not change whom they identify as their true family—you!
To learn more about embryo donation and adoption through the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program, visit Snowflakes.org.