As the husband and I are waiting for the results of our pregnancy test, we have amassed quite a little stockpile of micro-babies, all of which are being cryopreserved at the hospital IVF lab.
Four are pronuclear — which means it’s still a single-cell organism, but with two nuclei, one from Mom and one from Dad. Four others are blastocysts, which are several days older. Blastocysts are made of many cells, and have separated themselves into two tissue types — one which becomes placenta, and the inner cells which become baby.
Two of us, one hopefully-growing embryo in the oven right now, and 8 more in the lab… that’s our own reality show!
We know we won’t be having 8 babies. I’ll be lucky if I can convince Nathan to have a second one. So these pronuclear and blastocyst embryos will need to be “handled” at some point.
We have 3 options:
- Discard them (which seems careless, considering how hard it was to make them)
- Put them up for adoption by an infertile couple.
- Donate them to stem-cell research (and piss off right-wing nut jobs).
I told my husband that once we make a decision to be done having babies — he says the decision is already made, but I would like to wait at least a few years after Baby #1 to decide for sure if we are going to add a second — he can determine the fate of half the embryos and I’ll determine the other half.
His decision for embryo fate is clear — donate them to stem-cell research. Anything to piss off Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann is high on my husband’s priority list.
For me, it’s a bit more tricky. I don’t personally know any women with ovarian failure, but I can’t imagine how painful it would be to have rotten eggs or a low egg count. I’m all for donating to an infertile couple.
The husband says that is a bad idea, because years from now, some kiddo that looks like him will knock on the door, pissed off that we gave him away and wanting to know our genetic history.
But it’s an adopted EMBRYO, not a baby.
With “standard” adopted babies, there’s all the emotional/psychological baggage that comes along with knowing that:
- You have no genetic ties to your adopted parents
- Another woman gave birth to you and may have even cared for you, for a little while
- Your birth parents “didn’t want you” or couldn’t adequately raise you
But as an adopted embryo, things are different in a few very important ways.
- You have no genetic ties to your adopted parents, but that’s because it was medically impossible (at that time) for them to procreate
- Your adopted mother DID give birth to you
- Your adopted parents wanted you. A lot.
- And technically, your birth parents wanted you, too. They wanted a baby, but the doctors made too many. You were… a spare.
You were just a little embryo, created in a lab, frozen in liquid nitrogen, and unneeded in the grand scheme of things. But it’s not your fault, kiddo.
The law scrambles to keep up with science. A few weeks ago, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that an Iowa girl couldn’t get her late father’s Social Security. Sounds off-base until you learn that she was conceived TWO YEARS after his death, using sperm they banked when he was diagnosed with leukemia.
The father had signed paperwork giving sperm to his wife to conceive a child, and accepted “all support responsibilities” associated with it. But Iowa law disagreed. She needed to be dependent upon Dad at the time of his death. Hard to argue that she was, considering he was dead when she was conceived. Crazy.
I’ve no doubt that we’ll see a court case with an adopted embryo, demanding his records be unsealed so he can inherit a massive estate. And a wealthy widow who wanted to do the right thing and donate a spare embryo to an infertile couple will be battling to keep a stranger from inheriting her family business. I can see the headlines already — but 40 years in the future.
Despite the potential fallout, we’ll still be donating half our embryos to couples that need them. And the other half to stem cell research. Because really, who could pass up a golden opportunity to piss off the willfully ignorant? Not us.