Remembering

Memorial Day Weekend.

Anniversary of the last embryo transfer of our adopted embryos.

Next month is the anniversary of my mother’s death. And the anniversary of our wedding. And my own birthday!

May and June make for busy months in the remembering department. I hope you are remembering beautiful things and even the hard things.

I’m sharing more about remembering our lost babies here at the family business blog. I’ll try to be back here more, as I do enjoy writing, if I will just sit down and do it.

Now, go and remember. And share your remembering, its worth it.

Mom

Today, I’m posting my thoughts on moms and loving your adopted child’s genetic mom or birth mom well. So, pop on over and see if you have anything you can add to the conversation!

My favorite picture of my mom with me. Mom died in 2006. Yeah, I miss her quite a bit.

Over on YoungerandSon.net: Mom

One of those roles in your life that is super important. You need her to be born. We idealize a mother’s love, but let us not forget how important her love is. Those who have not had a mom, or dealt with mom not being around as much, can point to how that impacted them. Yes, Dads and fill that role to some extent, but not fully. Just as Mom can’t completely fill the role of Dad.  read more….

Personhood, babies and embryos

written by Hubby

With the thaw date for our children having suddenly arrived, I (Hubby) am making these remarks on somewhat short notice, but I hope they are clear regarding our reasons for approaching that landmark in the way that we do.

We affirm the following truth claims. We’ve got arguments that have convinced us of the truth of each of these truth claims, though some of those arguments will have to wait for a future date. I’m presenting here only very brief summaries of the arguments. None of these are our “opinions” – all of them are claims we make about the way the world is. We might be wrong, lots of other folks disagree. But based on the arguments both for and against these truth claims, this is way we believe reality to be. We’d seriously enjoy talking about any and all of the truth claims and arguments for them, so don’t hesitate to ask.

First, that all human life has a particular kind of value. The value we’re talking about here is sometimes called “human dignity” or similar. This kind of value is inherent to all human life, regardless of whether or not the human is sleeping or awake, conscious or unconscious, regardless of racial or ethnic background, the ability to feed or otherwise care for oneself, etc. When this value is present, but the person with this value is treated as if they didn’t have it, a grave injustice is committed. Examples include the treatment of Jews during the holocaust or those subjected to chattel slavery such as was practiced in the US until the civil war. The Jews under Hitler and the slaves were not treated according to the dignity present in all human life, and this poor treatment is why these horrors are horrific. The difference between the slaughterhouse where cows are turned into sides of beef and Auschwitz lies in the fact that the victims of Auschwitz possessed human dignity, and were treated as if they did not. Many people from vastly different worldviews believe in something of this sort – theist or atheist, scientific or not, Eastern, Western, secular, religious, etc. As an aside, our account of where this value comes from happens to be a Christian one – we claim that this value comes from humanity being made in the image of God, their creator.

Second, that human life (and hence this value) begins at conception. Because in the fertility industry conception has acquired a variety of different meanings (think of how literally is now commonly used to literally mean non-literally), we think it’s worth being specific. By conception, we mean fertilization (when the sperm penetrates the egg)– not syngamy (when all the chromosomes are first united in the nucleus), not implantation (when the embryo begins to receive it’s sustenance from the mother instead of from the reserves in the egg), and not from quickening (when mom first feels the baby moving). At fertilization, the resulting thingy (to use a totally non-technical, non-biased term) begins working as a unified organism. Prior to this, there are clearly two separate things (sperm and egg) each carrying out their own separate processes – neither of which is inclined to grow, divide, mature, be born, etc. on its own. At fertilization, there is a single entity working towards unified ends. At first, it works towards the end of achieving syngamy – the pro-nuclei don’t just bounce randomly into each other, rather syngamy is the result of a process which is ordered to achieve syngamy. The cell begins dividing, a process aiming towards eventual cell differentiation into separate tissues, organs and systems… all of which are ordered to living a complete human life.

At implantation, the embryo obtains a steady supply of vital nutrition, oxygen, etc. But if we were to accept that access to nutrition, oxygen, etc. is what makes a person have value, then victims of famine suddenly cease to be human beings. We reject the consequence that victims of famine cease being human – lack of a steady source of nutrition does not make something non-human, so we also reject the premise that human life begins at implantation. We reject the idea that life begins at quickening because movement – making oneself felt by another human being, is likewise not a condition for personhood. Victims of paralysis or some in vegetative states may not make others physically feel their presence, but this does not make them inhuman. Many other conditions for human personhood have been suggested, I will simply sum up by stating that any condition for human personhood that makes infanticide permissible, we immediately reject on the grounds that it makes infanticide permissible.

As a result of these two truth claims, we are lead to a third. If any of those thawed do not survive, a human person has died. And we bear a special relationship to these particular human persons – they are our children. If necessary, we will mourn their deaths in many of the same ways we would mourn the death of our 4-year old son Samuel. We will not have the specific sorts of thoughts, memories, attachments, etc. to these children that we currently have to Samuel – but our love for Samuel is not based on the fact that we’ve held him in our arms, or the fact that Rachael carried him for nine months, or any of our memories of him. Our love for him, and for the five embryos we have adopted is based simply on the fact that he is our son. Those memories can come or go – they are conditional, but our love for him is not conditional. Likewise, these other five are our children, our sons and daughters and if they die, we will mourn for them in many of the same ways (though certainly varied in strength, intensity, duration, etc.) that we would mourn if Samuel died. As we go through this process, whatever the Lord has for us, please keep us in your prayers. Statistically, we are told to expect to lose many of these children this weekend. So we approach the thaw date with fear and trembling, anticipating the probability of deep loss and grief in the coming days, alongside our hope that these children will live full lives. Whatever the Lord has for us, both joy and sorrow, we will accept from his hand. Our charge is to be faithful to the commitment we have made as adoptive parents, to care for these children placed into our family with everything we have, and to give them the best chance at a flourishing life that we are capable of.

How many children do you have?

Usually when someone asks, “How many children do you have?” they usually mean to ask how many children are you feeding, caring for, dressing, etc right now. But since you become a parent when that baby is conceived (aka fertilization), and that parent-child relationship isn’t changed by the unborn-status or death of that child, it is far more accurate for me to talk about the 7 children God has given me.

We have Little Man, who is 4 years old, and Ananias is in heaven with Jesus. We lost baby Ananias in June 2013, and it was an early miscarriage. But since we believe that life begins at fertilization, and even the single celled zygote is a person, our child, we openly claim that child. Just as if someone lost their baby during infanthood, or childhood, that parent-child relationship doesn’t change, so it is the same when the baby dies at the early stages of pregnancy.

In the same way, now that the contract phase is done, we are now the parents of 5 more babies, even in the frozen, very early developmental stage. So, if you ask me now, I’ll tell you I’m the mother of 7 children. God has given us one, so far, to raise, and he has taken one, so far, home to be with him. We don’t know what God has for those other five, but we are eager to find out. Yes, even if it means he is taking some or all home to be with him, we want to know.

Embryo Adoption, questions and answers

We started the journey of embryo adoption in March 2015. When we tell someone that we are doing embryo adoption, most often, the question is “What is that?” It is a most reasonable question, so I hope to answer it a series of blog posts answering the most common questions we are asked.

What is an embryo?
The word “embryo” describes a stage of development. In non-technical language, an embryo is the unborn or unhatched offpsring. In more technical language, the embryo is unborn offspring from the 4th day after fertilization through 8 weeks. During this time, the human baby goes from being a single cell with 1/2 its genetic material from mom and 1/2 from dad to being a fully formed baby with heart, lungs, legs, arms, brain, eyes, ears, nose, mouth. Human babies at 8 weeks of development very much look like a baby that has just been born, though many of their body systems are still immature.

Where do these embryos come from?
During in-vitro fertilization, eggs are harvested from a woman and fertilized with sperm collected from a man. In the United States, several IVF embryos are usually created at once, since the cost is in the fertilizing of the eggs and its not that much more expensive to fertilize many eggs at once (bulk discount of a sort). And since there is no guarantee that any single embryo will implant and gestate to full term, many couples find they need to do multiple transfers to get 1 live birth. A couple might have 1 or 2 embryos transferred immediately and any other embryos will be frozen so that they can be transferred later.

Why do these embryos need to be adopted?
Sometimes, a couple has all the children they want, but have embryos they never transferred. Or, perhaps due to any variety of circumstances, its determined that a woman can’t carry a baby. A couple then has a few options as to what to do with these embryos. They can discard the embryos, donate them to research, leave them frozen indefinitely or donate/make an adoption plan for the embryos. Both discarding the embryos and donating them to research means death to the babies. Some couples don’t want to take those options, so they either continue to pay the storage fees or find another couple who will accept the embryos.

Will you transfer them all at once?
No, we will transfer up to 2 at a time. Yes, this opens up the possibility of twins, but we accept and welcome that possibility.

How many children will you have?
7! Little Man, who is 4, Ananias, who died at about 6 weeks development, and these 5 frozen babies makes 7 children. Why do we talk about it this way? Because the parent-child relationship doesn’t change with death. I will talk more about this in the next blog post.

Any more questions? Please ask! You can email me at the [dot] china [dot] lady @ gmail [dot] com (change all [dot] to periods, and remove spaces) or leave a comment here.

Recent Events from Rachael’s Life


I have succumbed. It seems that to communicate by blog is the chose form of communication for our generation, so I might as well join in 😛

Life is finally feeling back to normal. Its been a crazy three months… a wedding, a funeral, and lots of travel.

June 3, 2006 is now forever marked as one of the best days of my life. So far, it is *the best* day of my life, but I figure there is always a chance that something else might pass it up…. I don’t expect it though. That was the day that I spoke my vows of devotion to the man I have chosen to spend the rest of my life with. That was the day he spoke vows of devotion to me, and chose me as the woman he would spend the rest of his life with. This is the second life changing decision I’ve ever made, and I have yet to think of any other decision that could pass it up.

June 17, 2006 marks one of the saddest days of my life. Early that Saturday morning, my mother passed from this world into the presence of Jesus, her Lord and Savior. I knew she was sick, but it wasn’t until that Thursday before that I was aware that she was dying. Two weeks before, she had attended my wedding, and it was on our way home from the honeymoon that we stopped off at my parent’s house because Mom was so sick. Thankfully, goodbyes were said Thursday night by all of us, Dad, Sister Emily, and me. Friday was the hardest of those days because she was physically still alive, but didn’t recongize anyone but Dad. By Friday afternoon, I began crying out to God to take her home, that I didn’t want her to suffer like this. Friday evening she slipped into a coma and early Saturday morning, Dad found that she was no longer breathing.

Strangely, Saturday and Sunday were mostly filled with relief. Mom was no longer suffering, but was completely healed and was now rejoicing in Glory. It was Monday evening, and even Tuesday morning before grief set in. The funeral was hard, and the grave side service even harder; I cried more than I think I ever had before.

All of this was surrounded by tons of travel…. LA to Texas (for the wedding) to B.C. (for the honeymoon) back to Texas (for the funeral) then back to LA (home) then to Wisconsin (in-law visit) and finally back to LA. We’ve been back for 2 weeks now, and life is feeling normal. I’m doing the housewife thing while I look for work. Hopefully something comes along soon, or this blog will really fill up!