Ella #41

Meredith and Andy Gray were discouraged when they were diagnosed with unexplained
infertility. They had one child, but they wanted to grow their family. They took a chance in 2002
and adopted 12 frozen embryos. In October of 2003, the 41st Snowflake baby was born. My birth
brought a family joy in the dark pain of infertility. A couple years later, my parents got pregnant
on their own, and we became a family of five. My story was never a secret, and my parents were
sure that I knew. Most kids hide away from things that make them different, but I fully embraced
it. However, it did not mean I was free from insecurities. The Enemy used my insecurities to
plant seeds of uncertainty in my heart. There was a point where I wondered if I was loved less
for not being genetically related to the rest of my family. Unfortunately, this is not the only place
where I felt attacked. At school and by society, I was told that life begins at birth, despite science
proving otherwise. When embryos were labeled as merely “lumps of cells”, it made my life feel
invalidated. I had many conversations with people who vocally expressed that embryos were not
living humans, while still saying how amazing it was that I was alive and frozen for nearly six
years prior to my birth. Obviously, this is a stressful situation for anyone, but to have someone
tell you your life did not matter until you were born, is not an easy pill to swallow, and it was not
the end of my problems. “You’re different, you don’t belong” are words that lived in my head
well into my early teen years. Like most teens, I struggled with finding my identity, but it felt
bigger than that. I was not like other kids in my class because I was adopted, but my adoption did
not feel “real” because I was birthed by my adoptive mother. I sought out comfort in other
Snowflakes, but I was different from them too, for I am one of the first to be adopted as a
double-donor embryo. I was adopted from a lady who used both donor egg and sperm to have
children. My genetic “parents” did not even know each other, much less that they had a child. I
had genetic siblings, but my placing family did not have the structure of other Snowflake
families once again, I was different. I wanted a placing family, like the stories I had heard of
other Snowflakes. I wanted to find my family for years, without realizing I had one right in front
of me. I am so blessed that I was adopted by a family that supported me and my adoption. We
were with the families brought to the White House to oppose human Embryonic Stem Cell
Research, and that has reminded me that I am an advocate for second chances. My life could
have become results on a testing sheet, but I was given a second chance at life, which is
something for which I can never stop thanking God. Society tells us how important it is to fit in,
yet, throughout my story, I have always been different. But different is not something to be
ashamed of. As I have gotten older, I have jumped at the opportunity to share my story and what
makes me different. Also, I got the chance to meet my genetic siblings and the sperm donor. This
helped answer my questions and uncertainties, but it also reaffirmed that, even though we do not
share the same DNA, my family is those who know me and adopted me. I would be lying if I
said there have not been any hard days in accepting my adoption story, but it is all a part of
growth and discovering who I am. A way that has helped me is by celebrating my “embryo day”,
the day I was conceived, to honor my adoption and my embryo siblings that did not make it. I am
so thankful for the opportunities I have been given, as well as the relationships I have formed. I
have met some of my greatest friends through Snowflakes. At the end of the day, I can give
praise to God because I am His child made in His likeness. He made me to be unique, with a
story to shout from the mountaintops.

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