We received a packet of information and pictures from the couple who was hoping to donate their embryos to us. It contained pictures of their children, a written medical history of their family, a worksheet about their personal lives and decisions they've made in regards to the freezer babies, and a packet of information from their clinic about the egg donor they had used. These words are already completely inadequate. It was a packet of distilled hope for their children from them to us, threadbare in its facts, but swollen with unspoken importance behind every fact and picture.
The first thing I saw was a picture of the most adorable little boy with wide eyes and rosy cheeks, that his mother must have been so proud to show off. I had to keep mentally reminding myself that I wasn't trying to adopt him, and that his siblings would be just as precious. After having spent so long aching for a child of my own though, holding that picture almost felt like he was mine in some cathartic sense. This feeling escalated as we showed family and friends who had been praying with us for this match, and they oohed and ahed over him and his brother. They all commented how they thought the baby in the picture could easily be mistaken for "ours" in the biological sense.
Sam and I had decided a long time before this that we weren't going to reject any embryos offered to us based on family history or physical characteristics. Our goal was never eugenics in any sense, and we knew there were no guarantees anyway, so the medical information included was really just that: information. There was cancer mentioned. There was deafness and diabetes and lung disease. I wonder what it was like, writing those things down, wondering if anything would cause a potential adoptive family to say that the babies weren't good enough, might not be healthy enough. I hope that this thought never crossed their minds, because all we saw was data that our children would use to complete forms- important to know, but not scary or worrisome.
Then there was the personal information. We learned about a few of the interests, occupations, and physical characteristics of this family. It struck me that although they had used an egg donor, the donating mom still included her own information, that she wanted us to know her, not just put down "genetic" info, including her husband only, and I am profoundly grateful. I want to know her, because without her, our babies wouldn't exist. I suspect that without her, my family wouldn't have been picked. And without her, I wouldn't feel this connection to another mother who had also longed for a baby and knew exactly what I was feeling as I waited for a miracle that only another woman could give me.
As I read, I found myself drawn in spirit to this woman who shared my faith, who stated that "Life is sacred, and if God gives us a gift, He calls us to nurture and value it." She went on to ask directly, knowing that I would be reading it, if their embryos might be ours to nurture? As I read, I wept. At that moment, I was committed, body and soul, to following through with doing everything I could do to accept the charge of motherhood for the babies that this family had waiting. It was less of a hope and more of a reality, now that I had the words of this precious mother ringing in my head as permission and commission to love her children and make them my own.
The unique nature of embryo adoption, among other things, is this: the donating couple and the adopting couple are almost always joined by the bond of infertility. This is a fear on everyone's part, I am sure. The adopting couple wonders if the embryos might not be viable since their parents couldn't conceive naturally, and the donating couple wonders if the embryos might not survive since the adoptive mother hasn't successfully carried her own children in her womb. Our donating family took this fact as an opportunity to minister to us, not knowing if this match would result in living children. They said, and I echo to everyone I know who is waiting:
"May God bless you with children! But, if He does not, I pray that His generous hand will more than fill your lives with joy, purpose, and peace."
Amen, and Amen.