Thursday, April 12, 2012

Interesting Possibilities

Being a military couple puts a damper on adoption.  In addition to working around finances, we have to struggle with adoption timing due to moves and deployments.  We couldn't start adoption two until the kids were at least nine months old.  Bryan was deployed then.  He came home in September when the kids were 14 months old.  The Army then told us we'd be moving in May.  While I appreciate the long notification, that just means that many more months to wait until we start the next adoption.  To make things even more complicated, embryo adoption is neither eligible for the federal adoption tax credit nor the military adoption credit.  So we will pay for each and every adoption we choose to do out of pocket.

When you add up all the expenses, it cost somewhere around $15,000 in order to bring home our twins (home study, snowflake adoption fees, transfer #1 (miscarriage), transfer #2, medications).  Now that I don't work for money (I'm never going to say being a stay at home mom isn't work!), it will be very difficult to finance subsequent adoptions. 

We will have a couple of financial breaks this time around though.  First, our next home study will be almost $2000 cheaper - different adoption agency.  Second, repeat patrons of Nightlight's Snowflake Adoption program receive a $500 discount.  Third, we learned last time that a frozen blastocyst transfer (embryos that are five or six days old) is a lot cheaper than those in the day one to three stage.  I believe this is because the clinic doesn't have to do as much to prep the embryos for transfer, but that's only my own semi-educated guess.  While we won't turn down embryos because of their development age, it is something to be mindful of...

Nightlight has had two webpages up that I've been checking over the months.  One is a page of waiting multi-ethnic embryos and another is a page of "special need" embryos.  (Sorry, I can't link to the multi-ethnic page currently - Nightlight is in the process of updating their website and they haven't added family profiles back to this page yet.)  All of these embryos are highlighted because they will be more difficult to place either because of race, number of embryos, or medical history.

One particular family caught my eye, "Sonya and Gary's" embryos.  They're listed on the page linked above.  The medical issue isn't a concern for us and eight blastocysts presents a very interesting hypothetical scenario.  I've already contacted the Snowflake program and gotten a little bit more information which has only increased my interest.

Blastocysts have much higher survival rates than less developed embryos.  You can look up statistics online, but our own personal story is pretty much on par with current success rates.  Our first transfer consisted of four embryos, all day one or two.  Two survived the thaw (50% survived thaw), one implanted (25% implanted), and we miscarried around eleven weeks.  Our second transfer consisted of three day six blasts.  All three survived the thaw (100%), and two implanted (66.6% implantation rate).  And our twins were born very healthy and full term.

"Sonya and Gary", pseudonyms, have eight day five and six blasts, frozen in four straws.  While it's not definite, one can assume that the embryos are frozen two in each straw.  When one adopts embryos through Nightlight's Snowflake program, the adopting family receives all of the embryos.  So one could thaw one straw at a time at the pace desired by the adopting family.

Way back when Bryan and I got married, we hoped for a large family.  I joked about having six to eight kids; he wanted a more conservative four or five.  When reality hit in the form of infertility, compounded by limited finances and military life, we realized our plans for a large family were almost definitely an impossible dream.  Adopting a larger set of embryos could prove to be a way to our original family goals.

At this point, Sonya and Gary's embryos present a hypothetical scenario, one that's provided some interesting converstations between me and Bryan over these last few days.  (Sadly, we're still months away from actually being able to adopt embryo at this point.  Darn move.) 

If we adopt a larger set of embryos:

  • any remaining embryos after a transfer, whether or not the transfer itself results in a live birth, still remain ours
  • we would not have to pursue a home study for each subsequent adoption
  • we would have the freedom to pursue transfers on our own time, rather than factoring in an addtional six month plus period for a home study and matching
  • we would only have to pay for a transfer (anywhere from $1500 - $3500) rather than the whole home study/adoption/transfer work-up
If we were to actually adopt Sonya and Gary's embryos (not outside the realm of possibility), we'd have to be mindful of all the probable outcomes.  A 100% success rate would mean all of the embryos would survive as we thawed and transferred them over the next 10 - 12 years bringing our family up to a total of ten children.  Wow!  For an infertile gal, that's mind-boggling.  ;-)  This would mean I would have born five sets of twins; wild, huh?!

If we used our previous statistics as an example, we could expect approximately two thirds of the embryos to survive.  Our family would grow by an additional five or six children.

Even if one looks at the national statistics for the survival rates of a single frozen blast (40.7% pregnancy rate), that would mean our family would potentially grow by at least three more children.

As I said earlier, it's simply mind-boggling.  I'll admit, Bryan's a little overwhelmed by the concept of eight blasts.  One of the caveats of embryo adoption is the statistics game.  While four more children is a fairly safe, easily comprehendable number, one must be aware that God alone knows how many children will result.  And, though not statistically likely, it could be eight.  Or none.

So now we're discerning.  In this hypothetical scenario, how many embryos would we be willing to adopt?  We hadn't fully considered the perks (though the word "perks" almost seems too crass to be used here) of adopting a large embryo set.  Essentially a larger embryo set would allow us to grow our family on our own time, a thing unheard of for a couple limited by infertility.

My brain is simply swimming.  On top of thinking about renting our house, packing, and driving halfway across the country with toddlers, I'm now adding hypothetical adoption questions to the mix.

Jesus, I trust in you.  I must say this dozens of times each night, when I'm trying to force my overactive brain into submission and let sleep take over.  Jesus, I trust in you.


  1. Looking forward to discussing with you this weekend. :) But, as the oldest of 10 - I can say a huge family is pretty awesome!

  2. The reason blastocysts are cheaper is the clinic does not need to do "assisted hatching" -- in which the 2 or 3 day old embryos are bathed in a special solution to literally help them break through the exterior shell -- to hatch! Every person alive has hatched and it is necessary for that to occur so the embryo can implant. Blastocysts have already done this on their own so that step is not necessary.

  3. We have 9 more embryos waiting for us too! It is exciting to think that your dreams of a big family really could happen after the infertility diagnosis. I doubt we'll be able to have a family that large though due to my age.