This may not be a story you’re accustomed to hearing, but it’s a story many mothers who struggle to have their own children may long to hear. The story of the opportunity to simply be… a mom. To carry a child in her womb, experience the hiccups, kicks, and the precious heartbeat that exhibits a new life growing within her body. Now, this has been made possible through embryo adoption. An adoption that was made possible straight from conception, giving you the full experience to “Mom” even though the child is biologically someone else’s, just like adoption. Through the heart and eyes of Anabelle Peterson, she gave life from her womb into another’s.
Our Embryo Donation Journey by Anabelle Petersen
As I’m writing this, I realize it’s been exactly 10 years since our in-vitro procedure (on August 7, 2006) resulting in the birth of our son Andy in April 2007. The moments before and after his birth are so rich in details and vivid in my mind that I get a little anxious in remembering the pain of infertility we experienced for over 5 years, the toll it took on our marriage, the roller coaster of trying to get pregnant, and also the joys of birthing 3 babies since. Tom and I got married in 2000 after we met during my vacation in San Diego from Brazil. We met on Memorial Day weekend 1999 and wanted a family ever since.
When our first child, Andy, was about 14 months old I found out I was 12 weeks pregnant with our second child, Lucas. Lo’ and behold, when Lucas was 15 months old I found out I was almost 8 weeks pregnant with our third, Louisa, despite the use of an IUD.
Our stored embryos were starting to add up to our monthly expenses and now with 3 kids, I really felt our family was complete. My husband started to do some research to find out what to do with the remaining embryos and after lots of prayers, he came across the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption program through Nightlight Christian Adoptions. The program allows a family with remaining embryos to select a recipient family to receive their embryo gift.
Tom presented the idea of using the Snowflakes program to me when our daughter was about a month old. I’ll be honest, I struggled with the thought of giving up on our remaining embryos. My doctor advised me to not make any decisions until my post-pregnancy hormones got under control. One day I was in the shower crying for help with my decision when I heard a voice in my head saying “They are not yours, Anabelle. They are a gift from ME.” Louisa was just six weeks old, Lucas was barely two, and Andy was almost four years old. I now had the answer I was seeking and the peace I was craving. My husband and I agreed to put our remaining embryos up for adoption and our journey as embryo donors began.
In December 2011 we received an e-mail with a possible match. The moment I started reading it, I just knew it was them. We both cried and felt very strongly about this couple and made our decision to donate our embryos to them. They came to visit us in March 2012 when they came to San Diego to have the first embryo transfer. Amos was born in December 2012. When he was 16 months old they came again to visit and introduced Amos to us as well as have another embryo transfer. Enoch was later born in November 2014. In the meantime, we kept in close touch and were tremendously surprised that our decision for an open adoption would be so sweet. The family that adopted our embryos and gave them life are wonderful people, so compassionate, grateful and just kind.
Amazingly, they just left San Diego last week. They were here for another embryo transfer since the one in April 2016 did not result in a pregnancy. I feel truly blessed to see them, spend time with them, to know them, and to be able to see our biological kids alive. My peace rests on the fact that they are loved, lacking nothing and are alive and well.
The pain is still present, it will always be. We feel the pain of not being able to parent them, but it is ok; we live with it and we are aware of it. Our kids know they have brothers, and they call themselves brother/sister and are so wanting this “other one” to be a girl. They said, “Wouldn’t it be so cool if they have a family just like us? Boy, boy, girl?”. We’ll find out soon enough!
Anabelle Petersen was born and raised in Brazil and now lives in San Diego, CA, with her husband, 7 and 9-year-old sons, and 5-year-old daughter. Nightlight Christian Adoptions pioneered embryo adoption in 1997 with the creation of the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program. It’s estimated there are over 600,000 embryos frozen in storage in the United States. Over 1,100 families have donated their remaining embryos through the Snowflakes program, and over 470 babies have been born to their adoptive parents through successful Snowflakes placements.
For more about the Snowflakes program, visit Nightlight.org.