The Benefits of a Snowflakes Family Evaluation


benefitsRequiring a home study as part of the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program follows the best practices of adoption. Previous blogs have addressed why a home study is required and the purpose it serves. In this blog we want to address the question of how the home study process is valuable to the adoptive parent and how the benefits of a Snowflakes Family Evaluation.

When prospective adoptive parents see the list of requirements, documents, and education involved in the Snowflakes Family Evaluation (or SFE, a pre-adoptive assessment used in lieu of a home study, applicable only to embryo adoption), many feel overwhelmed. At least initially. It is also not unusual to feel a bit resentful. Common questions we hear are, “People that have biological children do not have to go through this before they have a baby… Why should I?” Or, “We are already parents and are raising our children just fine. Why do I need to do this?”

Here are three benefits of a Snowflakes Family Evaluation you should keep in mind:


It never hurts to learn something new, particularly when it comes to parenting. Parenting an adopted child (even those adopted through embryo adoption) requires specific education that is not received when parenting biological children.


Many topics are covered during the SFE and interview process that parents may not have considered or discussed with one another previously. Such as how they plan to discipline their adopted child(ren) and who they will ask to be the guardians of their children and remaining embryos if something should happen to both.


None of us are perfect, and adoptive parents certainly are not expected to be either. The assessment involved in the SFE helps to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each prospective adoptive parent that may affect their parenting. It allows us to give a pat on the back for those strengths, as well as some goals to work on if there are weaknesses in other areas.

While this is not an exhaustive list of benefits, they are great reminders of why a SFE is beneficial to you as the adoptive family. You want to do and be the best for your future children. And so do we!

To learn more about embryo adoption and donation through Snowflakes, visit

Birth Mothers: You Are Not Alone


hand holding

You are not alone. As a pregnant woman who is trying to make a hard decision, or as a birth mother who has already placed your child for adoption, you may not believe it because at any given moment, you may feel very alone. But, that is not true. Take a look at the math for a moment. According to 135,000 children are adopted every year in the United States. About 15% of those adoptions are by birth parents who voluntarily placed their baby for adoption. That amounts to 20,250 babies being placed for adoption in the United States annually. All of those babies have a birth mother. So, it is safe to say that you are not alone because there are at least 20,249 other women in the United States who have made this hard decision. That is just within this country in one year, not to mention all of the women who made this decision in previous years or in other countries.

Despite knowing the statistics, you may still feel isolated or like nobody really “gets” you.  I would encourage you to get connected with someone who really understands your journey. This can be done through a few ways:

  • If you are a Nightlight client, consider joining Nightlight’s private Facebook Group for birth moms. It is a great place to connect with others, share stories, be encouraged and get advice.
  • Nightlight has additional resources for birthmothers on our Post Adoption Connection Center
  • If you are not familiar with Brave Love, you should check them out! Visit to see how you can get connected with another mom, join a support group or possibly attend a community event.
  • Check out your local community to see if there are any in-person or online support groups you can join.
  • There is a very large, closed Facebook group for birth moms only called “Birth Moms Support Group”.
  • Adoption Triad – A Safe Place for Open Acceptance” is a private Facebook group for all members of the adoption traid.

Even if you are not ready to jump in and share all the personal details of your life in these online groups, you might appreciate reading about other women’s stories, and just knowing that you are not the only one.

International Adoption Travel Tips


passports on a world map

Travelling to meet your adopted child is a very exciting time in your adoption journey. You are going to finally meet and/or receive placement of your child. Though this is an exciting and joyous time, you may also find yourself experiencing a variety of mixed emotions with the joy, happiness, and excitement intermingled with times of feeling overwhelmed, anxious, fearful, and apprehensive as you prepare for this big event.  To assist you in preparing for this momentous experience here are some general international travel tips to consider.

Every child reacts differently to their first face-to-face introduction with their new parents. Their reaction will largely depend on their current stage of development. Toddlers can initially be reserved and cling to their current caretaker. Do not take the child’s behaviors personally; your child is likely scared. Be patient and let the child to come to you.  To initiate interaction with a young child, it is helpful to bend down to the child’s level and establish eye contact. A bright colored toy, or one that plays music, may captivate your child’s attention.   This is your opportunity to begin interacting with your child through discovery and play.

During these initial meetings, focus on building a connection with your child. Young children may not understand the meaning and roles of family members such as mom, dad, siblings, grandparents, etc. You may also find that your child appears to favor one parent over the other. Children in institutional settings are primarily cared for by women; with much less exposure to men as caretakers. For this reason, a child may tend to seek out only the mother for his/her needs.  On the other hand, because children are not as familiar with men as caretakers, the father may be somewhat of a curiosity and as such, children may be drawn to them. This relationship balance can be worked on once you are home by providing a daily bonding routine between the child and other parent. This can be as simple as reading a bedtime story or through interactive play with the child.

It is also important to note a child may act differently on subsequent visits or when travelling home with you. It is important to remember that a child’s behavior is triggered out of fear, grief, and loss. Ask if there is a special toy, object, or pictures from their current placement they can take with them that may provide comfort to them during this transitional period.

Travelling with young children requires planning and preparation for their anticipated needs (diapers, bottles, sippy cups, juice, drinks, change of clothes, snacks) but you will also want to have activities to keep them busy during a long trip. Suggested activities for younger children include:

  • Stickers/Sticker books
  • Color-wonder  coloring books/markers
  • Stacking cups
  • Colored pencils, sketch pads
  • Mad-Libs, puzzle books, word searches
  • Board books/Lift the flap peek-a-boo books
  • Play Doh
  • Magna-Doodle
  • Download age appropriate videos and games on your phone or I pad

When travelling with and older child or teen, take simple games or arts/craft projects that you can play or work on as a family. Ask the child what favorite places they would like to visit or foods they would like eat before leaving their current placement. Allow the child to be your guide as you explore his/her city and points of interests. Now is the time to take advantage of acquiring any cultural objects or memorabilia they would like to take with them to their new home.

Suggested travelling items to occupy school age or older children during your travel may include:

  • Download age appropriate videos and games for the child or youth. See if you can download any videos or games in the child’s language
  • Sketch pads, coloring books, colored pencils
  • Books, again see if you can find or download them in the child’s language
  • Individually packed snacks that are high in protein as well as some sweet snacks
  • Pack a small travel bag that contains small manipulatives they have not yet played with or seen.

Engaging and connecting with an older child or teen is easier in some aspects. When meeting your school age child for the first time, follow their lead. It is recommended that prior to hugging a child or older youth, to first ask for their permission. In asking for this permission, you are already teaching them about personal boundaries and that they have control of their bodies. Older children are able to entertain themselves for longer periods of times and although it can be difficult, if there is a language barrier, you can engage them in some simple conversations and needed instructions. Consider downloading a translation App for those times when you may need it. You can engage older children by asking questions about their likes and dislikes, what activities they enjoy, extra- curricular activities they may want to further explore, their friends, music, what they will miss in their current placement, favorite caretakers, talents, favorite subjects in school, future vocational plans, and what their daily routine looks like. You can also suggest they ask you questions about your family, home, neighborhood, community, the schools, weather, etc. However, this is not a time to ask questions about a child’s personal family history. Your child will disclose the more personal, intimate details of their past once they know you better and feel safe to divulge the more difficult parts of their life.

Travelling with your newly adopted children can be stressful under the best of circumstances.  You are just beginning to know your child and vice versa, there are appointments you will need to attend, documents to show, navigating around an unfamiliar environment, language barriers, and jet lag. With all of this going on, you may forget about self -care. This is the beginning of building family memories with your child. When you feel overwhelmed, it is important to take time out for yourself. When able, plan times during the day when each parent can have time alone to decompress from the stresses of the day. Check in with your spouse or support person periodically to see how each of you are doing. Give each other grace for the momentary lapses of frustration, exhaustion or when self-doubt may invade your thoughts.

Safe travels!

Celebrating the Birth of Snowflake Baby #1000!


celebrating the birth of snowflake baby #1000

In 1997, John and Marlene had a desire to have children. When they decided to pursue adopting a couple’s frozen embryos, they did not expect to create a new form of adoption that would take the world by storm.

Hence the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program was born. And 25 years later, we have celebrated the birth of our 1,000th baby!

In 2012, after finding out they could not conceive children naturally, Rodney and Mary Leah set out on a journey to build their family. That same year, a couple they had never met created embryos for their own IVF treatment—embryos that would later be placed for adoption. Rodney and Mary Leah attempted their own rounds of IVF seven times; only having one transfer and no pregnancy from all those cycles. In 2020, after seeing family friends successfully have their own baby through Snowflakes, they turned to embryo adoption.

Rodney and Mary Leah were matched with their first set of embryos in 2021. And they did achieve pregnancy… however, they suffered a miscarriage at the eight week appointment. With no more embryos left, they decided to go back through the Snowflakes Program. They transferred two embryos and became pregnant with twins! Dalton Rice and Mary Elizabeth were born on December 23rd, 2022; frozen for ten years, Snowflakes Babies #1000 and #1001.

Snowflakes babies #1000 and #1001

As an organization, we are truly grateful to all our donors for choosing life for their embryos, to our adoptive couples for their commitment to these frozen lives, and to all our partner clinics who spread the word about this unique form of adoption. Because of your hard work, embryo adoption is becoming a more well-known family building method.

1000 babies born from frozen embryos is an incredible milestone. The Lord has truly blessed our staff and ministry in the mission of getting frozen embryos out of storage and born into loving families. Rodney and Mary Leah hope that the birth of Dalton and Mary Elizabeth will encourage others to adopt embryos just waiting to be born.

If you would like to get started on your own embryo adoption journey, give us a call at (970) 578-9700 so that we can help you build your family!

On to Snowflakes Baby #2,000!

For further information on embryo adoption or donation, visit

How to be Involved Without Adopting


child dolls around the globe

It is estimated that there are over 150 million orphans in the world today. It is approximated that there are 407,000 children and youth in the United States foster care system with 107,000 of those being available for adoption. Caring for the orphan is not a new concept. James addressed this in James 1:27; “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” We are told to care for the orphans. Now, in saying that, I realize that not everyone out there is called or led to adopt, and that is okay. There are many ways that you can help care for children who have been orphaned:

  1. Financially support someone who is going to adopt – this can be directly to the family, through a grant fund, or through a group fundraising campaign. Adoption can be expensive. While you may not be led to adopt yourself, you may know people who are. Perhaps you can be the one to pay for their application fee or home study. Maybe you travel and have frequent flyer miles that you can transfer to someone else to cover their travel expenses to bring home their child. You can give toward waiting children or families through Nightlight’s Adoption Bridge.
  2. Support System – adopting a child, especially a child who is older or who has special needs, can be stressful for a family. You can help organize meals for when they return home. Maybe you can offer to babysit their other children while they go for interviews or adoption training. Or maybe it is just an ear on the other end of the phone to listen to them cry when they have had a difficult day.
  3. Service project or trip – you can go, serve, or give. Go to Africa, South America, or Eastern Europe for a week and spend time in an orphanage loving on and playing with the children living there. Work on a collection of toys and hygiene items in your church for children in your local foster care system. All of these things can make a small difference in the life of a child. Nightlight’s Orfund project offers opportunities to give or serve children that may never be adopted.
  4. Pray – finally, you can pray for those kiddos out there who are waiting for their forever family.

There are so many ways to become involved in “orphan care.” I encourage you to talk to your local adoption and foster care agencies to see how you might be involved. Maybe it is inviting someone to speak at your church during National Adoption Month, starting a grant fund for families, or it is just giving a toy to a local foster child over Christmas. No matter what you do, it will make a difference in the life of that child and family.

How to Celebrate the Holiday of Love in Different Cultures


Valentine’s Day is a commonly known holiday of love in the United States and some countries throughout Europe. Couples most often celebrate the holiday as a way to show appreciation of their relationship. Around the world, many countries have their own way of showing affection through their own cultural traditions. Although some of these holidays may not identically mirror the way the United States celebrates love, the message is ultimately the same. Whether it be love for one’s culture, love for a friendship, or the concept of love in general, most countries love to celebrate love! Celebrating the holiday of love according to your adopted child’s culture can help children stay in touch with their own roots and validate their experience of adoption. Love is universal, and can come in many forms and expressions.

Latin America

Latin Americans traditional day of love is referred to as, “The Day of Love and Friendship”, or “El Día del Amor y la Amistad”. The holiday is broadly celebrated in this region more so than any other area of the world. Latin America celebrates Valentine’s Day not only with their partner, but with their friends and family as well.

In the Dominican Republic, those who celebrate Valentine’s Day will typically exchange “cariñitos”, which are gifts of love that can be shared amongst couples, families, and friends. In the Dominican Republic, this day falls on the same Valentine’s Day as the United States. Valentine’s Day in Colombia is celebrated on the third Saturday in September. While these countries recognize romantic love, a great emphasis is also placed upon celebrating the love of family and friendship. It is a common tradition to surprise friends with small tokens of love throughout Latin America, and many will exchange anonymous gifts at home, in the workplace, at school, or between their friend groups. The tradition is similar to the concept of “Secret Santa” that Americans practice around Christmas. Families who are adopting from these regions can celebrate this holiday by helping their children design or craft small gifts and exchanging them amongst other anonymous family members and/or friends.


The modern Valentine’s Day of China can celebrated through their annual “Qizi Festival” that takes place on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month of the Chinese calendar. It literally translates as, “Evening of Sevens Festival”, and is the country’s celebration of love rooted from folklore. Common traditions on this day include stargazing of Vega and Altair stars and baking “qiǎoguǒ”, which is a traditional sweet pastry that the Chinese enjoy on this special day. If you plan to celebrate this day with your adopted child, families can invest in a telescope for a night of stargazing or set time aside to bake qiǎoguǒ with their child.

Burkina Faso

Festival of the Dancing Masks in Burkina Faso, or “The Festival International des Masques et des Arts”, is a bi-annual festival that brings Burkinabe people together from over 40 different villages. Natives from all over the country wear masks and costumes to celebrate and can be found story telling or playing music. Although there is not a direct correlation between this holiday and the traditional Valentine’s Day celebrated in the U.S., it is clear that the people here share a love for their unique culture, art, and Burkinabe traditions. Families can celebrate this day with their adopted child and help preserve their roots through mask making or wearing the traditional Burkinabe attire on this day to celebrate.


Taiwan celebrates the day of love, “Qíngrén jié,” twice a year, on both February 14 and July 7. In Taiwan, this means the country is flooded with flowers on both days. Taiwanese men will traditionally buy their significant other roses, however the colors and the number of flowers are important indicators of how serious the relationship is. Red roses represent “an only love”, 11 roses symbolize “my favorite”, and if a woman is presented with 108 roses, it usually is an indication of marriage. If you choose to celebrate this tradition with your adopted child, try taking them flower shopping, or presenting them with the option to make their own bouquet for someone else.


Happy Valentine’s Day!

International Spotlight: Bulgaria Adoption Program


The Bulgaria program at Nightlight has two routes of adoption that families can pursue. The first route is the traditional adoption process where a family will complete their home study, compile their dossier and then wait to be matched by the Ministry of Justice. This route can vary in time based on how open a family can be to age, gender, number of children and the special needs characteristics. The second route is the waiting child program where families can review children’s profiles and apply to receive provisional approval. Once the Ministry of Justice grants a family provisional approval that means no other families can apply for that specific child(ren) and the family has 6 months to complete their home study and dossier for the Ministry of Justice to officially match the family with the child they applied for.

We have many waiting children profiles on our Adoption Bridge website that we advocate for because they are harder to place due to special needs, age or sibling groups. We have had many successful adoptions of families pursuing waiting children. The waiting child program is also significantly faster than the traditional route cutting out any waiting time a family would have to be matched. The waiting child program is commonly advocating for children with severe special needs that are 5 and younger as well as sibling groups up to four children. We have many single children that are over the age of 12 that have clinically healthy waiting for their forever families. Currently, we have a lot of families showing interest in our waiting child program as they look through Adoption Bridge and see all the young faces needing homes. Our program currently has three families pursuing waiting child from ages 5 to 16.

A unique document that is specific to the Bulgaria program is call the special needs checklist and it is something that was constructed by the Ministry of Justice that lists out all common and uncommon special needs that children from Bulgaria could have. Nightlight has a special needs checklist from Bulgaria that is highlighted with specific special needs that have been seen with referrals received over the last several years. This checklist has helped beginning families determine what special needs they would be comfortable caring for as well as any special needs that they would be open to considering. The Bulgaria program also offers a scheduled phone call with our Bulgaria representative to go over the checklist with each family providing suggestions of which special needs to be open to as well as letting them know the likelihood of a timeframe to be matched if they are pursuing the traditional route.

If you are interested in learning more about the Bulgaria program or the waiting child program, please contact our Indiana office’s inquiry specialist, Savana Rowe, at Your program coordinator for the Bulgaria program is Karson Loscar and she has worked in this program for 3 years.

Finding an Adoption-Competent Therapist


Adoption competent therapists

Adoption has a lifelong impact on everyone involved – children, birth families, and adoptive families. Most families seek post adoption support at some point – whether immediately after bringing a child home or years down the road. Post adoption support can include educational resources, support groups, respite opportunities, counseling/therapy, or parent coaching.


When searching for an adoption-competent therapist, seek a professional who has an understanding of adoption related issues such as: grief and loss, trust and attachment issues, identity formation problems, and trauma. Adoption-competent therapists will understand that children who have been adopted will often face issues that are “embedded in the abuse or neglect experienced before the child was adopted”[1], and will understand the importance of including new family members, especially parents in the treatment process.


There are many approaches to therapy and the type of approach a parent chooses will likely change over time. These methods will change as children grow and develop and as children experience life events – such as graduating from school, moving to college, starting a job, getting married, experiencing a death in the family, or becoming parents themselves. A few types of therapy include: behavior modification, family therapy, group therapy, play therapy, cognitive therapy, trauma-informed therapy, and attachment-focused therapy.


Finding the right therapist can feel like a daunting task. Here are a few steps we recommend:

  1. Identify Prospective Therapists
    1. Online directories can make this quick and easy. One example is in the directory from the Center for Adoption Support and Education or the Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) Practitioner List.
    2. Ask your adoption or foster care agency! Most agencies have a list of local, adoption-competent therapists ready to share.
  2. Interview Prospective Therapists
    1. Many therapy practices will offer an introductory interview, but if not – ask to schedule one to ensure that this therapist will be able to provide what your family needs. Ask about the types of therapy or treatments they specialize in and do not be afraid to ask about their experience working with adoptive families.
    2. Some specific questions to ask may include:
      • “Have you taken any courses or trainings in adoption competency?”
      • “Do you prefer to work with the entire family or only with children?”
      • “What is your experience working with ____ (be specific about the adoption issues your family is facing- open adoptions, transracial adoptions, children who have experienced abuse, children with attachment disorders, etc.)?”

Once you select an adoption-competent therapist and being working with them, remember that your commitment is crucial – so keep those regular appointments scheduled and maintain open lines of communication between yourself, the child, and the therapist. As always, remember that seeking any kind of post adoption support is not a sign of weakness or poor parenting, but rather a sign of commitment to permanency and supporting your child for life!


References and Additional Resources for Families:




Snowflakes’ Families Participate in First Ever Study on Embryo Donation


At the American Society of Reproductive Medicine in October 2022, new research project was presented on the Psychosocial Outcomes of Children Born via Embryo Donation. The study participants included Snowflakes Embryo Adoption families, but embryo donation is the preferred terminology in the medical world.

The objective of the study was to assess parents’ perception of the psychosocial adjustment of their children born via embryo donation and their relationships.

 The hypothesis of the study were:

  • Kids born via embryo donation are psychosocially well-adjusted
  • Parents perceive good relationships with their children born via embryo donation

The conclusion? Families created through embryo donation report favorable:

  • Parent-child relationship quality
  • Child behavioral adjustment
  • Child social/emotional adjustment

Several embryo donation programs gave access to their clients/patients who had children born through embryo donation or adoption, including Snowflakes, the majority of which identified as Christian.

In summary, the report stated there is a high degree of comfort with embryo donation given disclosure rates with minimal regret. Most of the respondents were provided with home study education that explained the benefits of not keeping their embryo donation a secret – especially from their children.

Another positive finding of the research is that embryo donation does not appear to increase the risk of adverse obstetric or fetal outcomes.  

 Most of these families received education regarding how to tell their children, building relationships with their donor family, and avoiding secrecy. Isn’t it great to have some research to back-up the anecdotal evidence seen over the past 25 years?

Learn more about embryo adoption at

An Open Letter to Adoptive Parents from an Adoptee


Dear Adoptive Parents:

 I wish you knew… 

  • we cannot just erase or get rid of our past.

No matter how old we get we will still remember parts of our past. Please listen to the stories we do share – even if they seem outrageous – which may include dark traumas and experiences. We know that can be hard on you. We hope you would acknowledge, and be prepared for what we know and remember of our biological family, and the importance these memories are to us. Know there is likely a difference in what we share of our past and what is shared in our paperwork. What we remember and experienced could be missing or a different viewpoint of what is shared in our paperwork – accept the differences and don’t dismiss what we remember and share.

  • how to gain more help specific to adoption and parenting an adopted child.

If possible, reach out to the adoption agency for help or other adoption competent professionals. Do not dismiss the education required as another hoop to jump through in the adoption process. The education is to help you parent adopted children like me. Do not stop learning how to parent an adopted child after the requirement is met in the process.

  • how to be more open with us.

Do not hide adoption papers and make copies to share with us. Let us know where the originals are so should we want to travel to our home country, get a passport, or any other legal documents, we have the appropriate paperwork available to us. Do not be threatened by the relationship with our biological family – including extended biological relatives. We are grateful for our adoptive family, but the transition can be hard and letters and pictures of our biological family can help ease this transition.

  • how difficult transitions are.

Language is hard for us. Be open minded that not all children will learn a new language in the same ways – find what will help your child. The help may not always just be learning new words it may come in the form of speech therapy, dental work, or medical support. Food shock is hard for us. Food tastes different, be patient as we try new foods. Slowly introduce new foods and do not be upset about food waste. To help in the transition to the American diet, incorporate foods from our culture into the menu. Learn what foods are common in our culture and do your best to provide these foods, especially shortly after coming home. Give us the opportunity to shop with you and choose foods to eat. When we share our stomach hurts, or we do not like a food, be aware this could be a mild food allergy and our body is giving signals but we do not understand what they mean. Be our advocate to understand what is happening in our body. School/social shock is hard for us. Our grade level may be lower than our age. Do not compare us to your educational experience or the performance of other children of the same age or grade. We are learning more than academics so praise what we have learned. Help us with our assignments with the understanding that what we think is being asked of us may not be translated well. Be patient and do not discourage us when we misunderstand. Be our advocate at school to ensure our teachers and administrators understand we are going through an adoption transition, which includes not only social and culture differences, but family and personal transitions. We may need additional transitions at school to help us thrive in the school setting. Consider different types of education to meet our needs. For example: a smaller class size, private school, or home school. New cultural environments are hard for us. Educate yourself of our country’s seasons, holidays, and traditions. Do your best to incorporate our country’s seasonal holidays and traditions into American celebrations. Seek out music, television shows, and movies from our culture to share with us. Do not forget special clothing and traditional wear we may or may not bring with us or be purchased when traveling home. When visiting places where our culture is represented, like Disneyland’s Small World ride, we may remember something that could trigger a memory. Be aware these memories may be bad or good. When a memory is triggered please be patient with us even if we cannot communicate why we are being triggered. If you are aware of our triggers, do your best to assure us we are in a safe environment and make sure we able to communicate our feelings freely in that moment.

  • we still have our own values and beliefs.

Our religion may be different than yours and we may or may not want to convert. Share your religion and beliefs, but allow us have the option to practice our religion without feeling like we are disrespecting our adoptive family. Provide opportunities for us to grow in our passions. Be encouraging of our interests and find ways to let us explore our talents.

  • how grateful we are of adoption.

Please do not interpret the struggles of the adoption journey as us being ungrateful. We do value and love you for bringing us into and making us a part of your family.

  • you cannot study enough about my country and me.

Do not stop learning about me, my country, my culture, and my past. Adoption is a never-ending journey for not only you, but me as well.



An Adult Adoptee

Assisted in writing by Nightlight staff member Alice