In the infant adoption world, adoptions can be termed "high risk" or "low risk" based on your chances of actually keeping the baby. "High risk" means someone is, or is likely to, contest the adoption. You may or may not have a take home baby. "Low risk" means every biological family member is on board with the adoption and the chance it will be contested is slim to none. You have a much greater chance of receiving a take home baby.
That's kind of how I've been viewing our adoption attempts so far. We've been very open-ended with our adoption preferences and as a result, been paired with "high risk" scenarios. Older genetic mothers, older embryos,... And we are tired of that. (We turned down another match last week. Among other concerns, all six embryos were frozen in a single straw. That meant, assuming more than two survived the thaw (clinic will only transfer two at a time), we'd have to refreeze some. A resounding NO for us.)
This is likely to be our last attempt at embryo adoption, at least for the foreseeable future, so we want a "low risk" match. Trust me, the agency has them.
Bryan and I then spent the weekend deliberating just what "low risk" meant to us so I could communicate clearly to the agency.
We finally decided to send this:
Bryan and I have spent the weekend talking and praying about how we want to redirect our snowflake search.
Upon inquiry, the clinic stated they prefer "perfected vitrified embryos from 2011 or more recent" but I know that's a very limited window.
Our clinic will not transfer any more than two embryos per transfer. And we don't want to refreeze any embryos.
We'd like to refine our search to embryos created in 2007 or more recent. And we would like a total of 3 to 6 blasts, frozen one or two per straw.
Otherwise, our preferences are the same. Still no egg or sperm donors.
If we cannot make a match with a single family, we would be willing to match with two families.
It took Bryan and me a while to realize why we had been just generally uncomfortable with the two proposed prior matches. And we realized that, ultimately, the potential for loss was just too high for our current threshold. And a revision of our preferences became necessary.
A couple of explanations about the language and terminology:
"Vitrification" is a relatively new method of freezing embryos. It "came on the scene" around 2010 and has been growing in popularity ever since. Vitrification is "flash freezing" whereas the more common, older model is a slow-freeze. As best as I can tell, the single greatest advantage to adopting vitrified embryos is the thaw success rate is much higher - about 92% to 95% of vitrified embryos survive the thaw. There is nothing wrong with slow-freeze methods and some clinics are not equipped to handle vitrification (either the freezing or the thawing).
"Two's the limit." Most clinics these days are doing what they can to limit multiple births as these can pose great risk to both the babies and the mother. The safest method is to only transfer one or two embryos at a time.
"2007 seems random!" And it is, sort of. Best case scenario, we would love to be able to get two or three transfers out of this next adopted set of embryos. We'd like to keep the batch of embryos at ten years old or less. If we're planning on two transfers, one in summer 2014 and the second (assuming a healthy live birth followed the 2014 transfer) in maybe 2017. A 2017 transfer would make those remaining embryos 10 years old. Ten years is a sort of arbitrary number, but we had to chose something for clarity's sake when communicating with the adoption agency.
"Blasts" are also known as "blastocysts". This is the term used to describe embryos at days five and six of development, and anywhere from 35 to 250+ cells (this number is greatly variable). They are getting ready to hatch and attach to the uterine lining. Though there isn't much empirical evidence stating "blasts" are stronger than "Day 3's" (the other common embryo transfer point), we personally have had greater success with blastocysts.
Any other questions?