Two years ago today, I received a life changing text message confirming the legal rights to two frozen embryos. We had five small children of our own and we were on a full speed pursuit to adopt those embryos. We were given the full rights that day and we began our sprint to have my body prepared to receive them. This story is not about us, or even the family that loved them enough to give them up. It’s about our daughter. She was born sixth in our family. We didn't need another child, we had five and our oldest was five. I share this tribute because the journey for us to begin our family is what led us to pursue adoption in this way.
My husband and I are products of the plight of many Americans... infertility. We were married young with no clear medical reason as to why it had taken us over two years to conceive. We walked through the heartache of trying to start a family and experienced the repeated disappointment month after month which turned to years. As people of faith, we battled with the idea of seeking medical intervention to help us start our family. After a few years had passed, we decided to seek medical counsel to see what we would need to do. We did end up conceiving our first born on an oral medication that helps with ovulation. We conceived the second time in this way and experienced the loss of that pregnancy which led us into a fertility specialist office. After weighing our options and advice, we decided to walk the IVF road. Many people have walked this road, but not many people share their journey. It’s not something you announce or post about like taking a trip to Disney. If you are in that office, you have experienced the heartache and pain that only those that have been there understand. We were there.
We had 15 embryos made in a petri dish. On the third day of their conception, two were implanted into my womb with the hopes that I would conceive one child. Both embryos grabbed onto my uterine wall and began to grow. I was graced with the gift of carrying two children at the same time. Days after our embryos were made; we were informed that our 13 other embryos were not strong enough to be frozen for future use. We painfully lost all those lives. We were close to having a huge responsibility. We didn't take that lightly and we knew that going into our IVF cycle, we were responsible for the lives created, whatever the amount. We knew what we had planned to do, but none of those lives were growing well enough for us to be given that chance.
Our twins were put inside of me on the third day because they weren't doing well without my womb, but yet they made it. They are living breathing five year olds that I have a photo of as 7 & 8 cells. They were the reason that we felt moved to someday adopt an embryo. It’s not something you hear about everyday. We knew about it because we knew our potential choices based on our experiences.
After our twins were born we decided we wouldn't use prevention but that we also wouldn't try to conceive anymore. We thought having three children was amazing and that it was a lot of kids (at that time). We were unexpectedly blessed with two more pregnancies, and our 4th and 5th children were born by the time our twins were 2.5 years old. Adoption is something we talked as a couple before marriage. Its something we both wanted to do, but it always seemed like something we would do in the future.
When we celebrated our 5th baby's first birthday, we planned our first family get away. We didn't expect to have our life changed the way it did. We met a family that shared in the same IVF journey we had walked; yet they were on the other side... with embryo’s they had frozen that they couldn't use. They loved their embryo's enough to give them up for a chance to live. That's love folks.
This isn't so much about our story or their story as it’s about the result of it. We have a beautiful healthy thriving daughter because two sets of couples decided to step out and choose love beyond themselves. Our daughter's other family chose to give. We chose to embrace. Our girl gets to learn her story someday and I hope she will know that her life changed the course of the lives of many other embryos...many other children.
As I have shared her story with friends and even strangers, almost anybody I tell looks at me with a blank stare most times, but then some ask "how? where? What do I have to do?" I have nowhere to point them to. It would have been great to have numerous organizations as resources when we did this, but we didn't. We did this on our own. Now, I have dreams of seeing an organization be developed that would raise awareness for these embryos. I see two groups of people that this organization would help. The thousands of families that have these embryos, deeply afraid to let go of their potential children. I long to see those people trust that giving them up is really giving them life. Living life is so much better than just sitting frozen. I also see this organization as a way to fulfill a need in the many families that would LOVE to adopt embryos. I am a living testimony of what a miracle it is to adopt a life and get the joy of carrying it to birth.
I want to see our girl's story shared. I want to see the parents of the thousands of frozen embryos that are afraid, be given hope. The options for them are so limited... pay the frozen storage fees, discard them, or donate them to research. The choices for all those people are so weighted. I want to help them. I want to see them connected with the numerous families out there just like ours who are willing to bring a frozen life into this beautiful and messy world.
I have six small children and I am learning that I am dreamer, but I have no idea how to see this happen. Most people start foundations as a tribute to a life once lived, but I want to see a foundation started for a life that is living. I want to see all these forgotten embryos given the same chance to live, cry, love, and even just breathe. The numbers of frozen embryos in our country are astounding. They are in the hundred's of thousands. I am not going to quote numbers because I have no real evidence. I am sure I could get slammed for saying this, but how are the frozen storage facilities any different than an orphanage? I know science wants them to do research, I know the families who have them in storage carry a whole bunch of heart ache, but the general public no nothing about them.
This confronts so many issues and one that is most significant is abortion. Our country wants us to believe that life isn't living until a child is what, born? But what is our daughter then? She just there frozen for five years until two years ago today, when we went full speed ahead for her. For her and another embryo that didn't implant and as sad as it was, it was natural. That other life was given a womb to make its entrance... that was either going to be here or heaven, those are the two places that they should all be given a chance to go to. Not research, not a frozen limbo and certainly not the trash.
I sit here today in awe of our almost 14 month old daughter. She is healthy and thriving, alive with opinions and preferences. She is here not because we couldn't conceive on our own but because we were aware of the hundreds and thousands like her and thought maybe we could impact one for the good. She is here because we decided to give life a chance by choosing her. Days after she was born a dear friend spoke this about her... "A person is a person no matter how small".
This is true for every. one. waiting. frozen.
#Love thaws. I want to see families all over this world experience what we have been blessed to experience. The beauty of a breathing living person in our family. Our daughter. She is fully alive because love thaws. Love carries. Love gives. Love chooses life.
Join us and share. This video is a glimpse of her life. #lovethaws
Love Thaws from James Dakin on Vimeo.