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Adopting An Embryo

November 13, 2008, 6:10 PM by Kelli Grant

Adopting An Embryo
Families can try for years to conceive a child naturally...and when that doesn't work, in vitro fertilization is often an option.

But it isn't a cure for infertility and is why many families turn to adoption.
Yet for a couple who wants to experience a pregnancy and the birth of a child...there is still one option left: adopting an embryo. 

For nearly two years, the Van Maanens tried to get pregnant. But a genetic condition meant they would never conceive on their own and in vitro would also not be an option. But having a child who was not genetically theirs was possible. 

They had already begun to discuss traditional adoption when their doctor mentioned a procedure they had never heard of: adopting an embryo from a family who used in vitro fertilization and had additional frozen embryos remaining. It was a chance for Ashley to carry a child. 

Ashley says, “That was something, something I wanted so much. I felt like i would be missing out on something. And I know that adoption is wonderful and we were certainly ready to go forward with a traditional adoption. But we were just so excited when we found out we could have both basically.” 

After a match with a donor family through an embryo adoption agency in California, one out of three embryos took. 9 months later Josephine was born. 

Ashley says, “It was 10 days after the embryo transfer which was really too soon to take a pregnancy test, but I couldn't resist ...It said pregnant!” 

Embryo adoption, conceptually, may sound similar to in vitro, but the two are very different. 

“If we had done in vitro it would have been retrieving my eggs from my body, mixing them with Curt's sperm and then putting them back into my body to carry the baby. It would be genetically our child,” Ashley says. 

But Josephine was created by another women's egg and another man's sperm. Even though she is not genetically their baby, that doesn't matter to the Van Maanens. 
Ashley says, “She's the baby we were supposed to have...I'm sure of it.” 

The Van Maanens have been in contact with their donor family and hope one day to meet in person. 

“They live quite a ways away from us but they do have a daughter as well - they have an 8-year-old daughter. So we hope that Josephine will someday get to meet her hopefully.” 

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