No to IVF, Yes to Embryo Adoption

My husband’s favorite number is 27.

We met in college so the questions were “How many credits are you taking this semester?” 27. “How much did you spend on groceries?” $27. “How long will you stay with your parents this summer?” 27 days.

And when we got married, “How many kids do you want to have?” 27.

His favorite number was 27 partly for comedic effect, partly to give him time to think of the real answer, which was 7 kids.

We wanted to have time in our marriage to enjoy each other and get to know each other really well before adding kids to the family. We followed another dream first and found that we loved where we landed. In Honduras, we both had challenging, satisfying jobs and a delightful community of colleagues and friends to go with them. We had to leave for a couple years in order for me to teach in low-income schools to fulfill the requirements of a grant I had received for my degree. We would tell people we wanted to go back to Honduras, their question was, “How long do you want to be in Honduras this time?” 27 years. We meant it.

We had started to mean that number in other areas, too. At least, it had rubbed off on me a little. I had always jumped in to correct the flippant “27” to say 3 kids was a good family size. I liked being the oldest of three. Soon I was saying four. Then we were both saying seven. And meaning it.

We did not get pregnant.

It was agonizing to have this dream unfulfilled. Undiagnosed infertility is just a clinical term. It misses all the depth of so many emotions that go with the problem, the struggle to cling to your spouse, the impossibility to make sense of it, the injustice of not getting a label with a succinct reason.

We dutifully began working through the options: procedures to diagnose a problem that never became clear, medications offered to encourage things along, IVF prices laid out as if the questions that came with them were not huge and terribly important.

One of the questions was determining if we needed to try so hard to bring our own genetic child into the world. There are kids waiting in the foster system. Women bravely choosing to place their babies for adoption. Children in orphanages throughout the world waiting for a loving family. In light of these very real circumstances, we decided not to pursue IVF. We did decide to answer someone else’s question: “What will become of our still-frozen embryos now that our family is complete?”

Thus began our journey with the Nightlight Snowflakes program. Our wonderful, perfect Liliana was born from our embryo adoption. She is a thinker and a watcher, adventurous and strong-willed, fully embracing the toddler stage. We are so grateful for the embryos placed with us because we have Liliana – and a good relationship with her placing family. Our baby #2 is due in 2023. Four more potential genetic siblings are waiting. This has been an answer to prayer, both for our family and our placing family. We enjoy telling Liliana’s story and hope that she will enjoy telling others about embryo adoption, too!

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