A Snowflake Winter

Arundel and I wish that we could sit down face-to-face with each of you and share with you the story of what has been happening to us over the last few months. It is the kind of story that deserves time to mull over. The kind that makes you think, and that might change your definition of what is ‘possible’. Unfortunately, we don’t have the time, energy or proximity to be able to sit down with most of you lovely friends that have followed along this journey with us, so we’re going to do our best to explain it all here. And to keep it short enough to read in one sitting!

When we last wrote to you, we had just had our hearts let down again after walking away from a potential adoption situation empty-handed. It was mid-November. The days were getting darker, shorter and cooler — nature was going into hibernation to shield itself from the harsh winter elements. It would have been easy for us to do so, too. We didn’t feel ready to ‘get back in the saddle’ of pursuing adoption just yet. As we prayed about what we were to do, we knew that we needed to take a step back and re-evaluate what God had called us to, why, and where to go next.

The thing we kept coming back to in the search for God’s direction was the truth that we had done exactly what He had asked of us in the so-called ‘failed’ adoption plan with Lucy. And He knew what the outcome was going to be when He called us to it. Before we knew who Lucy was and the story of that baby, God knew that our hearts would be broken by her, and we would be sitting on the other side of that situation with empty hands, once again.

So why would He do that?

Because in His eyes, it was not a failure.

There was a need that He wanted us to meet – practically, emotionally, and physically. One of his daughters was alone and confused, and she needed us to walk with her through her pregnancy — to show her how to love her baby by doing so ourselves.

And that was the success story in our heartbreak. Lucy learned to love that baby, and so did we. There was purpose and there was gold to be found in that situation. It was not a mistake or a failure. It was a piece in this messy, complicated, drawn-out, beautiful puzzle.

Once we started to evaluate the last year or so of the adoption journey through that lens, it gave us hope that we could see what God had called us to walk through and why. That’s when we turned our hearts toward what He had next for us.

We want to share with you about something that you may not have heard of before, but that is growing in its’ impact daily as people like us discover that there is actually another way of doing things.

We are adopting an embryo.

Over the course of our adoption process, we have had several dearly close friends approach us, some who have never heard about embryo adoption but have had dreams about us adopting a baby when it is just a few cells big. Others had heard about it, and immediately thought of us. All along the way, Jane was thrilled with this idea. Arundel will gladly admit his apprehensions to this concept, his uneasiness with the idea, and his concerns about jumping into a form of adoption that is so new, where the long term emotional consequences are still yet to be discovered.

The process of embryo adoption came out of two deeply felt needs each becoming the solution to the other’s problem. On the one hand, you have couples like us — unable to get pregnant, but hypothetically able to carry a child to birth. On the other hand, there are couples who have done everything they possibly could to become pregnant, including In-Vitro Fertilization, and are now not able to carry their embryos to term.

During the process of In-Vitro Fertilization, or IVF, it is normal for the doctors to create more embryos than a woman might actually be able to give birth to. Whether it is for a medical reason, or a decision they make, many couples end up having remaining frozen embryos waiting for a chance at life even after the couple is finished having kids. Most of the time, couples are sadly only given the options to either discard the remaining embryos, donate them to science, or keep them frozen forever. In embryo adoption, however, they have another option — to donate them to a family, unable to conceive, but able to carry, who will adopt the embryos, carry them in pregnancy, and raise the children in a loving home. We soon saw what an amazing opportunity this was to be a part of bringing these “snowflake babies” to life.

As we prayed about this option and heard encouragement from many different sources, we knew we needed to look into it a little further. In November, Arundel whisked me away to Couer d’Alene, Idaho for my 25th birthday. Arundel was willing to read a book recently published about embryo adoption called Souls on Ice by Maria Lancaster, which was full of amazing testimonials about different families who had both donated and adopted embryos. As we read, asked questions, and did more research, we knew it wasn’t an accident that we were finally looking into this!

Amazingly, Maria’s church-based embryo adoption agency, the only one in the world, is just a few miles from our house! Having read the book, Arundel was convinced we needed to proceed (I had been for a long time!). Our parents also read the book, and having discussed it with friends and family, we all felt a huge resounding ‘YES!’ to this next step in our adoption process.

Just before Christmas, we applied to be accepted into the embryo adoption program. We sat down and shared our story with Maria, who answered our questions and gave us a better idea of what the process would be like. She needed to know who we were, where we were from, and what we like to do. She would take not only our hobbies and interests, but also our physical attributes, and match us up with a similar family who is donating embryos. That family would be people who she not only thought would be a good fit for us, but it would be people that she prayed over and believed God had chosen for us. She also shared her heart for why embryo adoption is such a precious gift. She herself had given birth to Washington State’s very first “snowflake baby” 12 years ago, and now here she was helping other families adopt embryos! It was a really exciting meeting, and we left feeling envisioned for all the possibilities that this process could bring.

In the new year, we met with a doctor at a reproductive specialist clinic and we knew we were in good hands. Dr. Klein is consistently voted by Seattle’s largest magazine on their Best Doctors List. The way she interacted, cared about the fine details of our story, and revisited all of our previous medical information showed us why! Our doctor told us about how each embryo is frozen when they are just a few cells. They are then kept in cryogenic storage until they are ready to be implanted. I, on the other hand, have to get my body ready to accept the embryo.

Between now and then, we were told …to wait. The waiting game was back.

This time there was no networking we could do, no marketing, or getting the word out everywhere and anywhere. We just had to trust God, and pray that a donating couple would also apply to transition their remaining embryos through Maria’s adoption agency.

Then last month, we got the phone call! Having waited just one month! Maria was on the phone, and with some very exciting news. A couple who successfully had been able to conceive one child through IVF, were no longer able to conceive the remaining embryo. And a chance of life was their utmost priority for this unborn baby. They contacted Maria around a similar time to us, she has blonde hair, he has brown hair, they have English heritage, are living in our area and want this embryo to have the best chance at life, and life to its fullest.

We are matched!

Paper work has ensued, but all in a very different way. Since embryos are not seen by the government as babies, the legal paperwork is simply a transfer of property. Similar to purchasing a car, or a house, but surprisingly less paperwork than either. On Friday of this past week, that paperwork was all completed and mailed in! Once we receive the finalized contracts back, hopefully in the coming week or two, the medical process begins!

So what does this mean now? Well, in a month or two depending on Jane’s cycle – this embryo will be implanted into Jane’s uterus, and we sit tight for around 2 weeks. Waiting again. This time to see, will the embryo properly implant itself? If you believe in the power of prayer, we will be needing you in those two weeks especially. This is the miracle that we need! The success rate is somewhere around 30%, but success rates mean little to God. We are believing that if this is His will, there’s a 100% success rate.

For now though, we are sitting tight, waiting for the returned contracts. From there, we can go to the doctors office again, and see… yes, see(!) the embryo at just a few cells big!

Many who we have shared this story with so far have had plenty of questions, we have tried to answer most of them in this blog so far. But please feel free to leave comments, and we will make sure to get back to you! We understand and appreciate medicine on the leading edge of reproduction can produce many emotions. We know – we’ve endured those same emotions as we battled through whether this was God wanting us to do this.

We want to be as transparent about this process and share openly with each and every one of you on this journey of a life. We look forward to introducing you to our snowflake baby!

Jane & Arundel

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