“Bottom line is, even if you see them coming, you're not ready for the big moments. No one asks for their life to change, not really. But it does.
So, what are we, helpless? Puppets? Nah. The big moments are gonna come, you can't help that. It's what you do afterwards that counts. That's
when you find out who you are." - Joss Whedon

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Very Interesting Story Regarding Embryo Adoption

This article was taken from the Maryland FSA Chapter Blog and you can link directly to the original post here.

By Holly Kristiansen

Here is Tracy and Barton Jeffs adoption story. I met them at the last FSA conference in Pennsylvania. Tracy was pregnant and announced in her introduction that they had conceived through embryo adoption. I was intrigued, so I asked them to email me their story and more information about embryo adoption.

I just wanted to preface this story by emphasizing that in the church handbook it does say that the church strongly discourages surrogacy and sperm and egg donation, but does not mention embryo adoption. Tracy and Barton did not want to do anything contrary to the teachings of the church, and talked to their stake president. His opinion was that since an embryo can technically be thought of as a "baby" he considered embryo adoption to be an adoption early in the game and not contrary to church teachings. Since it is not specifically outlined whether embryo adoption is okay, it is up to personal interpretation. This article is not meant to be controversial or offensive to anyone. I just thought it was a touching story, and another possible way for couples to find and bring home their much desired babies. It is up to the individual families to decide what is right for them.

A few great things about embryo adoption for those that it is right for, is that it allows the adoptive couple to be more in charge of their adoption process. It eliminates the ups and downs of waiting to be chosen and also of birth mother changing her mind during the process. It also makes it easier to breastfeed your child and also allows you to experience pregnancy.

Just for an update on the article, when Tracy and Barton wrote this, the price was around $4500 more or less for a closed adoption, and an extra $3000 for an open adoption. Bethany, who facilitates the adoption aspects found that the couples on both sides were needing advice and counsel whether the adoption was open or closed, hence the change in price.

After Tracy was pregnant they also wrote the church Presidency regarding whether a temple sealing would necessary. Their response was that the baby would be born in the covenant as if he was their own.

Chase Jeffs was born December 15th, 2009.

You can see pictures of him here...http://secure.smilebox.com/ecom/openTheBox?sendevent=4d5451314e7a67324d7a4a384d7a497a4e6a4d314f44493d0d0a&sb=1

Tracy and Barton said that they would be happy to share their story with you!

Here is the story by Barton Jeffs:

For a short introduction; my wife and I are the Virginia (VA) FSA Chairman. We have a 10 year old son, who we had through artificial insemination, and we are currently pregnant with a baby boy who is due in December. This baby has come to us through embryo adoption/transfer.

We married May 1995 and had our son November 1998. From November 1998 to October 2006 we continued to grow our family, first with artificial insemination, followed by in vitro insemination, and then foster care and adoption. In July 2007 we went through a failed adoption with LDSFS. Prior to being chosen by the birth mom, we had been finding/waiting for an adoption for nine months. Following the failure we waited an additional two years to March 2009. Soon after the failed adoption, Tracy was looking through an adoption magazine and found an article/advertisement for embryo adoption/transfer. We had a difficult time deciding to try it, because we believe so much in traditional adoption. There are so many children being born to unwed mothers, who deserve a home with a mother and a father. The problem we had was that we just were not finding them and they were not finding us. Admittedly we could have been even more aggressive and proactive, but we were very involved in outreach and social networking. We did not have our profile out through the net on blogs, parentprofiles.com, etc. Unfortunately, based on our experience as the VA chairs and knowing the small numbers of actual adopted children annually, we knew that we may never adopt. Based on this fact and prayers, we decided to try embryo adoption/transfer.

Through our search, we found two primary locations that specialize in embryo adoption/transfer. One is in TN (The National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC)) and the other is in CA (Nightlight Christian Adoptions / Snowflake). Both centers are pro-life and Christian based. NEDC's cost is $4780-$6445 and Snowflake is $12000-$16,000 (per their websites). Our total cost for everything to include medication, medical procedures, and doctor visits but not including gas and hotel stay was $4469.

Here is a description of the process we went through. First we had to go through the same type of paper work that we did to get qualified with LDSFS (profiles, medical, bio, family history, etc.). Then we provided our LDSFS home study to NEDC through the Bethany Services Adoption agency. If we didn't have our own home study, Bethany would have completed one at a small cost. Once we were approved, we went to TN for a mock transfer to validate that my wife would react properly to the medication and to verify that she could carry. That was a one day (1 hour) affair, although we chose to stay overnight in a hotel.

Then we had to decide if we wanted an open or closed adoption/transfer. Just like traditional adoption, both options are available. With the closed option, the donating couple simply gives their embryos to NEDC through the IVF center that they used. NEDC creates a profile for each of their donating couples (attached). NEDC then sends the waiting and approved receiving couples the profiles of the donating couples that are available for the next insemination date. The receiving couples go through the profiles and try to find the couple that matches their personal desires best. The process is first come first serve, so the quicker we responded the more likely we were to get the donating couple’s embryos that we wanted. We received 31 profiles and immediately took 10 away based on nationality and skin color. We then systematically worked to find our couple. The couple we found are both two inches taller than me and Tracy, but the rest of the description matches us nearly exactly (hair color, skin tone, eye color, etc.). Our first choice only had three embryos, and NEDC preferred we went into the insemination with six embryos. So we had to choose a backup couple also. The backup couple did not match us as well, but was very close. Between the two couples, we had seven embryos.

The open adoption/transfer option is a higher cost. Bethany charges $3,000 to manage the legal paper work prior to the insemination, the correspondence after the birth, and any personal meetings. The benefits of an open adoption/transfer are the same as traditional adoption, but we wanted to save our money to try again if the first time didn't work. Likewise, after our insemination, we learned that couples who were going through the open adoption/transfer were having problems with donating couples changing their minds at the last second or not finding couples for donation because the donating couple’s requirements were too difficult. It seemed many of the open donation couples were Jewish and wanted to make sure at least one person of the receiving couples was of Jewish decent.

Once we chose our couples and embryos, our insemination date was scheduled and we were sent the medical history of our primary donating couple. The information included in the medical history is just like the paperwork we filled out on ourselves for our LDSFS profile. One other note, NEDC does inseminations every two months during the first week of the month.

When we arrived for the insemination, we were given a picture of the three embryos from our first choice couple. Their embryos were good enough that we didn’t need the second couple. They explained the quality and grade of each embryo and the likely hood of having triplets, twins, or a singleton. Of our three embryos, two were good and one was not. We were given a very low percentage chance of triplets and a good possibility of twins or singleton. We signed that we accepted the embryos in their current condition and accepted the likely hood of triplets, twins, or singleton. Once the insemination was complete (three hours) we went back to a hotel and waited 24 hours. NEDC prefers that the mother stay in a prone position and rest for 24 hours so that the embryo(s) have the best chance of taking. 12 days after the insemination we did a blood test to check likelihood of pregnancy. At six weeks we had an ultrasound, which showed that one embryo had taken. NEDC’s doctor and staff were awesome and very easy to work with.

As for the church and embryo adoption/transfer, we discussed the procedure and option with our Stake President (who also happens to be the chairman for LDSFS Advisory council in VA). His council was that the embryo is essentially a baby already created. The embryo adoption/transfer simply gave us the chance to carry, give birth to, and breast feed an “adopted” child. He also believed that embryo adoption/transfer does not apply to the recommendation in the Stake President handbook, which highly discourages using surrogates or donated eggs/sperm for insemination to get pregnant.

When it comes to law, currently an embryo adoption/transfer is only considered to be a property transfer. Thus, anything produced or any problems resulting with the embryo or/and baby is the “current owners" (receiving couple) responsibility not the “previous owner” (donating couple). Based on current law, the word and the procedure of adoption only refers to the placement of a child after birth. Also, instead of using adoption laws, legal agreements are used to govern the process of embryo donation. The receiving couple’s relationship with the child is just as binding as a legal adoption.

I share this in hopes that if you deem this helpful, our story can be shared with the many couples who are having a difficult time or have been finding/waiting with no success. If you have anyone that would like more information or would simply like to talk about the possibility of an embryo adoption/transfer, please feel free to share our information. As I stated before, we still believe in adoption and know that there are many children out there waiting for a home internationally and through foster care. We also know that every day there are LDS and non-LDS women who get pregnant and are considering adoption. With that said, over the last three years of being the chairman of FSA in VA, we have not been able to see the fruits of adoption bless the lives of the couples in VA. So we are trying to help others know and understand that there are more options (if they are able to carry) that allow them to carry, give birth, breast feed, and keep their baby. If embryos are existing babies, and we believe they are, this is yet another way the Lord has found to give them life.

Barton and Tracy Jeffs
Virginia Chapter
FSA Chairman
H: 703-372-2132
C: 703-344-3360/61

Feel free to contact Tracy and Barton. I have more detailed pricing and other information from the NEDC and Snowflake. If you would like me to send you more information, email me at whereisholly@gmail.com.