Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Our Embryos are Coming Soon! Could you help us maybe?

As I posted last time, we have been matched with a family who would like to adopt their embryos to us! We are so excited and praising God for this. We are currently working on the legal contracts to transfer the embryos away from their genetic family to us. We are so thankful to this family (who has chosen to remain anonymous) for choosing us to be the family for their embryos. It is an honor. This phase should take 1-3 months (we are one month in, so hopefully we'll have them here by March!) Now, without giving away information we aren't supposed to, let me share the lowdown on our snowflakes with you.

We are adopting 14 embryos. 14. Yes, that is a large number. In fact we almost said no to the match when we first saw the number. However, we prayed about it a lot and asked for advice from other Snowflake families (others who've adopted embryos through Nightlight like we are). Basically, with embryo adoption there are, very sadly, many embryos who do not survive the process. We've been told that about half of embryos survive the thawing method and then only about one in three survives implantation. Now, obviously those numbers vary greatly amongst each case. We spoke with families who adopted between 10-20 embryos and only 2-4 survived the thaw (each resulting in at least one baby born). But, another family told us they adopted six embryos, thawed 5 of them and had four children born! So, there is no way to tell what will happen with the thawing/implanting process until we actually try it. And no matter what, our 14 sweet babies need someone to adopt them, so why shouldn't it be us? 

Our prayer is that all the embryos we thaw and implant will survive. We do not want any to be lost. With that in mind, we plan to only thaw one at a time (they are frozen in cohorts of one and two embryos). Prayerfully that first one will survive and he/she will be implanted alone. With our desire to have all survive, but also to remain sane, we are not hoping for multiples. So our decision (at least to start with) is to only implant one at a time. We don't think having twins or triplets at this point is something we want to have to handle. We know if God has other plans, the single implanted embryo could split into identical twins. In that case we'll make it and we'll be so blessed by each child, but we are not going to actively pursue that. Honestly, the odds of the implantation working are best when implanting three embryos. In that case, I'd be most likely to have one implant. However, two or all three could and can you imagine implanting three embryos and then hoping only one will survive?! Of course not. Each of these little lives are precious and we want each to live if possible. 

Which leads me back to our number 14.  Our hope is that we will only have to thaw one, implant it and have that result in our next child. Maybe a couple of years later we will try again with the next embryo. We will have to leave all that up to God's will though. If, however, there are embryos left after we feel our family is complete, then we will allow the rest of them to be adopted by another family. Although it will be strange for our children to have genetic siblings in multiple families around the nation, I'd much prefer that than for these sweet snowflake babies to die when thawed or in the womb. I hope that makes sense to you all.

It's so amazing to think about each of these 14 little lives that have already begun. I wonder now many are boys and how many are girls? Will they all have blond hair like their genetic siblings? Will they have blue eyes like their genetic siblings or green eyes like their genetic parents? What will they be like as toddlers? As teenagers? As grown-ups with jobs and families of their own? I am in awe of these 14 little lives we are being entrusted with and cannot wait to see what God's plans are for each of them. When I think about our embryos this is what always comes to mind from Psalm 139:

 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
Although these precious souls were not created in the womb of their mother, they are still fearfully and wonderfully made by our Heavenly Father. He knows each of them and knows what each of their days will be like. I'm so thankful to be the mother who gets to help some of these little lives continue to lengthen their days. Praise God for this amazing blessing!
Now, with all of that being said, there are many costs associated with any adoption and that is true of an embryo adoption too. Costs range from application fees, home study fees, legal contract fees, agency fees for storing records, embryo shipments, storage fees for frozen embryos, however many Frozen Embryo Transfer (FET) cycles we have to go through, medications, etc. Nightlight says that an embryo adoption can cost from $8000-$17,500. The wide range depends on the differences in home study costs, fertility clinic costs, etc. Also, I think they're only accounting for one FET cycle in their range, so that's not always how it always happens. And it does not include normal health insurance deductibles and costs associated with a pregnancy. Now, we have always been fully aware of the costs we would be meeting with this adoption and know it's a lot of money, but we have remained steadfast in our faith that God will sustain and provide for us. We have some money saved, but we also intend to do fundraising for our adoption. If you are at all interested in helping us fund raise, please continue reading below.

Starting TODAY we are doing a Thirty-One Adoption Fundraiser. If you are familiar with the company, they make and sell bags, storage containers, etc. A very kind adoptive mother, Anne Little, is a consultant for Thirty-One and she helps other adoptive families by donating her entire commission from a party to the adoptive family. And she's doing one for us! The fundraiser lasts from today through Monday, January 26th at noon EDT/11 am CST. If you are in need of a new bag, organizing tote, lunch thermal or anything like it please check out this link. You'll be able to order whatever you want and all the commission of the sale will go towards our adoption!

However, if bags aren't your thing, never fear, we will have other fundraisers/donation opportunities coming very soon including a t-shirt sale and an online donation site combined in one. As soon as this fundraiser is over we'll start the next one. I'll keep you posted. Thanks in advance to any of you who choose to help us monetarily! But, if all you can do is pray for us to raise the funds, please do! That will be a humongous help to us!

P.S. If you do want to order from Thirty-One, in January if a customer spends $35, he/she can choose to purchase a Zip-Top Utility Tote for just $10 (a $35 value) or an All about the Benjamins Wallet for just $20 (a $48 value).  ***HOW TO ENTER A SPECIAL: Enter at least $35 in products at regular price. Then enter the item number of the special followed by the letter “S”. It will show up in your cart at the special price. Again, here's the link to the fundraiser.
P.S.S. Like Thirty-One, but can't buy anything right now? Well, you can host a party for us and get free Thirty-One items and huge discounts while at the same time raising funds for our adoption! Anne will allow any of our friends to host a party as a fundraiser for us too! How amazing is that? If you are interested, PLEASE let me know. I'd love to hook you (and our adoption funds) up!
And in case you were wondering, here's a sweet, silly girl who's doing a good job at Preschool!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

1st Day of Preschool!

Well, today was the big day. Luke and I just dropped Kinsley off for her first day of preschool. In my second to last post, I mentioned that we had her first IEP meeting coming up and we would be deciding whether or not she should attend a special needs preschool. Well, after visiting the school, talking with the teacher, a lot of prayer and some great help from Kinsley's (now former) developmental therapist, we made the decision to do a trial run of the preschool.

When Kinsley turned three years old a few weeks ago, she aged out of Early Intervention. Carol, our wonderful developmental therapist, is now no longer able to see Kinsley since she works for EI. We will miss seeing her every week so much, but as she has become a wonderful friend, we will still be seeing her as friends! Anyway, after EI, in Arkansas, children with special needs move on to the 3-5 program which is set up through the public school system. None of it is required, but if we wanted Kinsley to continue receiving developmental therapy, which we do, then this is how it's done. We had the option of meeting with another developmental therapist who works with kids aged 3-5 once a week or we could try the preschool. The preschool has a morning and afternoon class each lasting 3 hours a day Monday-Thursday. We decided the interaction with other children is something we wanted Kinsley to have more exposure to, so we enrolled her in the afternoon class. We are going to do a trial run for one month and see how things are going. If it seems to be overwhelming to her, unbeneficial or in any way wrong for her then we'll take her out and set up the one hour a week with a developmental therapist. Hopefully, though, she will enjoy it and it will help her development to continue to increase.

As I drove away from the preschool, I fought off tears. I have such mixed emotions about this. I hate to lose the 12 hours a week with her that I'm so used to having. Afternoons were our Mommy and Kinsley time where we would read, play and work on therapy skills together. Of course I also had household chores and errands to do during that time that she would tag along with me for. But, I've felt for a long time now that she needed more opportunities to be around other children. There are 5 or 6 other children in the afternoon class. Of course I don't know any of their diagnoses, but at a glance, each of them is higher functioning than Kinsley. Though it breaks my heart that she is so far behind her peers, I'm thankful she will have other kids showing her an example of what more appropriate play looks like. Additionally, they try to include typically developing children in the class to provide role models for the students which is very helpful as well.

I will miss our afternoons together, but we will still have every morning (where she still receives her PT, OT, and ST therapies which I attend with her) all day Friday, all weekend and all summer together. That's what I keep telling myself to remember that it will be alright.

Will you please pray with us that this will be a successful and beneficial change for Kinsley?

Here's a picture of her right before we drove to preschool. Of course I forgot to take pictures once we got her there! Ugh. Mother of the Year Award goes to me, right!? If I'm not too emotional to think, I'll try to take some when I pick her up.

First Day of Preschool!
Of course, I have to share some pictures from her birthday and Christmas. I can't believe she's three years old! Love this beautiful Kinsley girl. (P.S. Scroll past the pictures for some exciting news!)

Happy birthday, Kinsley!

She got a big girl bed as a combined birthday gift from all her grandparents and Mommy and Daddy! This is her first time checking it out.
The next morning we found her like this. :)
I think she likes it! And she has transitioned from the crib so well!
Kissing Chuck E. Cheese at her birthday party
Finding Santa presents in Alabama
Cousin Ellie, Daddy and Kinsley girl
Matching cousins by the tree (Dresses made by my amazing Aunt Jana!)

And, just in case you were wondering, we have been matched with a genetic family who is going to adopt out their embryos to us! More details to come in the next blog post, but we wanted you all to know and thank everyone for their prayers. We are super excited to be onto the contract phase. Within one-two months from now we should have our embryos at our clinic! Yea! Thank you, Lord!