Friday, May 27, 2011

Topics for the Future

(please note:  these are arranged randomly, not in order of importance or interest, but merely in the order that my brain was working at the moment of typing)

1.     Annotated bibliography of sources/suggested reading list
2.    What is a snowflake?
3.    Common embryo transfer and embryo adoption terminology
4.    Common misconceptions
5.    Defense of embryo adoption before the release of Dignitas Personae
6.    Defense of embryo adoption after the release of Dignitas Personae
7.    Embryo adoption versus embryo donation
8.    Analysis of different embryo adoption agencies
9.    Matching criteria
10. Contracts with fertility clinics
11. Medical protocol for the embryo transfer
12. Preserving dignity of each embryo through the embryo transfer
13. Why the Church’s position is just
14. Open versus closed adoption
15. Telling your children of their unique origin (given the young age of our kids, this will be more sharing resources than personal experience)
Is there anything you’d like me to address that isn’t mentioned above?  Are there any points mentioned above that are of special interest to you?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Catholic Church and Embryo Adoption

The Catholic Church is fully committed to protecting life from fertilization until natural death.  Unfortunately, technology has not always advanced in ways that fully respect the dignity of each life.  Though the Church moves slowly at times (for example, though the first IVF baby was born in 1978, the Church did not officially address IVF until 1987 in Donum Vitae), she has tried to advise her followers in a manner that is clear and compassionate.

Embryo adoption is currently stuck in a quagmire.  Donum Vitae, released in 1987, condemned the act of IVF (though reminding all that children born of IVF were no less worthy of love than children conceived naturally).  Dignitas Personae, released in 2008, condemned freezing excess embryos.  DP also briefly treated the topic of embryo adoption.  Enter the moral quagmire – embryo adoption would not exist without IVF, something previously defined as illicit.  Currently, the Church finds embryo adoption morally problematic but has refrained from a definitive stance.

 There are three possible conclusions one can reasonably reach in response to the Church’s cursory treatment of embryo adoption.  Option one, personally decide that EA is an immoral choice.  Option two, personally decide that EA is a moral choice.  Option three, personally refrain from any decision until the Church speaks more definitively on the topic.

Most faithful Catholics are choosing either options one or three.  However, simply because option two is the minority opinion makes it no less a viable option.  Probabilism is a moral system that believes one can follow a probable course of action regarding undefined moral events even if such action is only supported by a minority of respected theologians.1  As it stands within the Church today, embryo adoption does have well-respected  theologians as some of its chief proponents. 2

I would propose that Catholics can in good conscience participate in embryo adoption.  However, I do not think that any and all forms of embryo adoption/donation/rescue are compatible with the Church’s respect for human life.  I will go into much more detail in future blog entries, but in short, each and every embryonic life must be treated with dignity and respect. 

1.         Catholic Encyclopedia on the Theory of Probabilism
2.        Dr. William May, Dr. Janet Smith, Dr. Gerard Nadal, and Ronald Conte to name a few.  Prominent theologians both for and against embryo adoption will be analyzed in upcoming entries

Saturday, May 7, 2011

About Me

My husband and I first met at a visit weekend for high school seniors at the University of Dallas in 1999.  Our love for UD’s theological and liberal arts curriculum is what brought us back to the school as undergrads.  Bryan eventually went on to major in theology while I took as many theology classes as I could fit into my schedule.  One of the lasting impressions we carried with us was the value of a properly formed conscience.  In the years we have been married and navigated fertility testing and assisted reproductive technologies, we have tried our absolute best to properly form our consciences and adhere to the Church’s teachings. 

Through the course of our fertility testing, Bryan and I worked closely with Napro-trained physicians only to be ultimately told that our best bet for growing our family was adoption.  Mind you, we have never viewed adoption as “second rate” – we were talking about adopting even before we were married (and didn’t have any clue of the fertility struggles yet to come).

We first learned of embryo adoption from UD friends of ours in 2006 or 2007.  I’m a rather “type A” personality – that conversation sparked what has become years of research.  To humorously illustrate how “type A” I am, I created a power point comparing and contrasting different dog breeds when we were considering what breed to get for our first dog.  My brilliant research skills paid off – we got a Great Dane.  J 

A couple things prompted us in the direction of embryo adoption.  First, we’re a military family – moves are a given part of our way of life.  Waiting is a huge part of the traditional domestic adoption process; moves would undoubtedly slow down an already slow procedure.  Embryo adoption is a fairly quick process.  Second, while we cannot conceive our own genetic children, my uterus works beautifully. 

In May of 2009, after years of research, a deployment, an adoption home study, and a quick matching process, we completed our first embryo transfer.  Sadly, we miscarried in July of 2009.

A few months later, we decided we were ready to be matched again.  In early November 2009, we completed our second embryo transfer.  And our darling duo were born July 18, 2010.

The story doesn’t end there.  We hope to do another embryo adoption some time in 2012.  Our dreams of having a large family have never changed – God just has a different route in store for us.