This as-told-to essay was originally published on Insider. It has been edited for length and clarity.
When we could not get pregnant on our own, we turned to IVF, but after six rounds, it was clear that our genetic material does not create viable embryos. With each successive cycle, our physician was able to retrieve eggs and create embryos, but before the embryos reached five days old, they stopped growing.
We even traveled to the best of the best in New York City, rented an apartment there for a month, and that doctor tried implanting the three-day-old embryos, thinking maybe they would continue to grow, but that was also unsuccessful.
Several doctors suggested an egg donor, but we did not want to do that. We thought about traditional adoption, but we wanted to experience pregnancy, so we put that idea on hold.
Then in May 2020, friends of ours told us about their friends who had just had a baby through embryo adoption. During our seven years of trying to have children, this is something we had never heard of. Both of us immediately knew that this was what we were supposed to do.
The cost was similar to traditional IVF
Legally speaking, what we did is not considered adoption, but as attorneys, we feel like the law has not caught up to the science. The normal contract for transferring ownership of embryos is not much different than buying a car!
The agency we went through, Snowflakes Embryo Adoption, adds many steps that resemble a traditional adoption. We had to complete a home study, go through background checks, and have medical examinations. We like to say we just adopted our children nine months earlier than most people do.
The cost of embryo adoption was about the same as traditional IVF. While we paid a lot for medical intervention during the IVF process, most of the expenses of embryo adoption involved the necessary legal paperwork.
Once Snowflakes approved us, we filled out a profile that shared information about our lives and included our photos. Then the agency shared our profile with some of the people who donated embryos. The donors get to decide whether they are comfortable with potential parents. Everyone's privacy was taken very seriously.
Part of our file included our preferences regarding any potential relationship with the donors. We put in our profile that we intended to be open and transparent with our children's journey. We consulted our friends, who are traditional adoptive parents, and they told us this was the best option. We wanted to make sure that if our kids wanted to meet their biological relatives, they would have that choice.
We love our twins so much
Many of the people donating embryos are doing so because their circumstances have changed. The first couple we matched with had children through IVF, but because of medical complications, they could not have another pregnancy. They transferred their remaining four embryos to us, but, sadly, while one of those resulted in pregnancy, we miscarried early.
As sad as that made us, we were also comforted by the knowledge that we could, in fact, get pregnant, so we once again requested to be matched, and the next family transferred five embryos to us.
The next step was very much like IVF. Success requires the woman's cycle to be at the right time. It is sort of like tricking your body into welcoming implantation. We were thrilled that both embryos were implanted, and we were having twins.
Pregnancy was an exciting time. I was even thankful that I threw up because my doctor said that was a good sign. There were no real cravings, and my doctor was pleasantly surprised at how easy pregnancy was for me, particularly because of my advanced age.
We could not love these children any more if they were biologically ours. Days go by without a single thought about their being adopted, honestly. These are our children.
When our babies were born, our names went on their birth certificates. There was no other paperwork needed. No going before a judge, none of that. They were fully our children from their first breath.
Our children's names
Dalton Rice Miller carries the maiden names of his great-grandmothers. Dalton is Mary Leah’s grandmother’s maiden name and Rice is Rodney’s grandmother’s maiden name.
Mary Elizabeth Miller also carries family names. Mary appears in each generation on Mary Leah’s side of the family. It was also important to Mary Leah that she go by a double name as Mary Leah and her mother go by a Mary double name. Elizabeth is a generational name on Rodney’s side of the family and his grandmother’s middle name. We also found her name fitting as the Lord led Mary Leah to Luke Chapter 1 early in our journey and the story of Elizabeth and Zechariah. The verse that stuck out to Mary Leah appears when Mary visits Elizabeth who is pregnant with John the Baptist. The verse is Luke 1:45 “Blessed is she who has believed the Lord would fulfill His promises to her.”
Mary Leah has held onto this verse in faith for years, believing that she would become pregnant. As such, Mary Elizabeth’s name honors not only our families but also is a tribute to the verse that the Lord gave to Mary Leah during their battle with infertility.