Article in the NY Times "Deciding the Fate of Frozen Embryos.

A lot of people think there are piles of frozen embryos just waiting to be donated to infertile folks like you and me.  It almost falls into the "why don't you JUST adopt an embryo?" category, as if it would be easy.  Unfortunately, it isn't.  There are frozen embryos out there but their parents aren't willing to donate them.

This surprises me.  Having known the pain of infertility and contemplated a childless life, adopting an embryo was an option that sounded good to me.  We have obstacles to adoption, so adopting an already-born child probably wasn't going to happen, but adopting an embryo might have been a fit for us, had our IVFs not eventually worked.  But I found out pretty quickly that there are very few embryos that parents are actually willing to donate.

Giving away some of our leftovers, if we have any, is something I've always wanted to do.  Here's the part I just don't get. 53 percent of couples surveyed said they weren't comfortable donating their embryos:

Her teenage daughter favors letting another couple adopt the embryos,
but, Ms. Best said, she would worry too much about “what kind of
parents they were with, what kind of life they had.”


About 66 percent said they would be likely to donate the embryos for
research, but that option was available at only four of the nine
clinics in the survey. Twenty percent said they were likely to keep the
embryos frozen forever.

So… let me get this straight.  They don't want to donate the embryos because they might end up being raised in situations or by people that they don't agree with. We can't imagine our kids, which is what these embryos would become, having any kind of life but with us, and so we want to protect them from that substandard life.

So instead we… kill them?  Really?  King Solomon decided an argument between two women who claimed the same baby by threatening to cut the baby in half.  The baby's real mother then gave up her claim.  She wanted the baby to live, if even with the wrong parent, rather than be harmed.  Can I see myself deciding that I'd rather destroy my embryos than allow them to become the children of a lesbian couple, or people who don't believe as I do, or don't make the same amount of money that we do?

I just don't get that.  I'm also not that confident that my mothering, our family, our choices, are so very superior to any others out there.  I think biological parents are great and best for the kid, but when the bio parents aren't available, is death the only other option?  Thankfully not for so many grateful adoptive parents and their kids.

Wasn't that always the infertile counter to "maybe it's not meant to be" or "Maybe God doesn't want you to be a mother."  (O! knife in the heart, that one.)  It's pretty clear some of us will just get pregnant and end up with kids, and that some of us are willing to go to hell and back for them.  The people who end up adopting, be it embryos or children, are often making up in motivation what they lack in genetic connection, and are fantastic parents.  Just as those of us who cycled and tried and lost and mortgaged our houses and our souls before our babies came – we can also be fantastic parents.

Another option claimed by 20% of surveyed parents was to leave them frozen forever, which, I'm sorry: I think that's pathetic.  Giving them to research at least kills them for a good purpose.  Leaving them while trying to come to a decision is one thing, but just deciding to purposely leave them forever, so that someone else has to make the decision?  I think that is cowardly.

I know I'm coming across like a hard-core pro-life Palinite right now, and that is not my angle.  I'm glad that parents have the choice, and if they want to discard their embryos or bury them in the back yard, I'm glad that there isn't some law restricting their choice.  But infertility has taught my heart to care about the clump of cells that becomes the embryo that could become my baby and I can't go back to thinking of it as a "lab specimen," as one of the parents in the article said, no matter how "done" I am with having children.

Unfortunately, the hard-core Palinites who want to pass laws giving embryos legal rights can point to these couples as a prime example of how evil we callous, selfish infertiles are.  We're the people who carelessly create life and then carelessly destroy it; loving the clump of cells that we choose to gestate, and de-humanizing the rest.

I hear the agony of the parents in the article and I don't meant to suggest that any of them hasn't been thoughtful in their deciding.  I'm glad that we all have had the opportunities we've had without too much legal interference, and I hope it stays that way.  I just don't agree with some of the choices.