By Gary Boyd
Imagine that, through in vitro fertilization, you were able to have the children you had always hoped for, but which had not come as easily as you might have anticipated when you were first married. Life is good, and you feel your family is complete. In your quest for children, however, you were not able to utilize all of your embryos that the clinic had stored up. You feel concern about your embryos being used for research purposes, and you certainly do not believe in destroying them. What is the answer?
Rebecca and Chris Henderson found themselves in the very scenario described above. Their story may be read in a news article by Karen Weintraub, Couples give up frozen embryos for ‘Adoption’. As the title of the article indicates, Rebecca and Chris gave up their embryos for adoption. In addition to their concerns over embryo use in research or embryo destruction, the Hendersons wanted to give someone else the opportunity they had been fortunate enough to realize. Weintraub concisely expresses the case for embryo adoptions, paraphrasing Kimberly Tyson of Nightlight, one of the two substantial embryo adoption organizations:
In part, interest is increasing as conventional adoption gets tougher, says Kimberly Tyson, marketing and program director for of Nightlight. International adoptions have been drying up, teen pregnancy rates continue to fall, and having children out of wedlock has become socially acceptable, reducing the numbers of babies available for adoption.
Those who have been blessed by the institution of adoption can understand that in most circumstances, children are not going to be left on one’s doorstep. Whether domestic or international, and with much more involvement from birth mothers than in the past, adoptable children may not easy to come by.
It would seem that embryo adoption, though an option for making adoption opportunities available to more couples, also comes with greater uncertainty in some respects. When a financial outlay is made in a traditional adoption situation, the adoptive parents know they are getting a child; with an embryo, there is still the possibility that the pregnancy does not survive. And, one may suspect that to even a greater degree than in traditional adoptions, helping the child to understand his origins may require great wisdom and delicacy.
Notwithstanding the uncertainties surrounding embryo adoption, some things may prove more certain, such as the superior medical information on the embryo that would be available to adoptive parents. As in most choices between similarly good things, there are both advantages and disadvantages to traditional adoption and embryo adoption.
Notwithstanding possible obstacles that accompany this relatively new kind of adoption, embryo adoption seems to be emerging as a viable possibility to complete families, and provide opportunities that would not otherwise be possible. As changing social conditions limit adoption possibilities, at least for the time being, technology has come through for adoptive parents.