Why Frozen Embryos Should Be Adopted, Not Traded


I always wanted a daughter, but God gave me sons. And I love each of them dearly. Never before has it been more important to live the life of a godly man.

When Julie’s doctor shared that Phoebe was a girl, I was delighted and not a little skeptical. Sure enough, Ms. Phoebe completed our family as our only girl. We didn’t do a single DNA test on any of the three embryos we adopted. We’re especially grateful we made that decision — which requires an intrusive process that can permanently damage embryos — when our clinic informed us only one embryo had survived the process of being thawed.

We would have adored a little boy all the same.

(Order your copy of “Frozen, But Not Forgotten,” my new embryo adoption guidebook for parents.)

Yet our ability to test embryos, even when they survive, is creating arguably damaging scenarios. As an example, the Daily Mirror just today shared the story of a mother seeking to trade her baby girl embryo for another couple’s baby boy embryo.

What are the extenuating circumstances? Her five-year-old son has requested a brother, and it would be easier to have another boy in their two-bedroom home than to seek a third bedroom that a girl would require. If you don’t believe me, you can read the article.

I have never experienced this woman’s heartache, which includes unsuccessful frozen embryo transfers. But I would plead with anyone who considers embryos mere commodities to be traded to consider the storyline you are creating for these children.

All of us desire on some level to know our origin story. From what I have read, adoptees feel this especially strongly. So to create a scenario in which families simply swap babies without going through a thorough, comprehensive and legally binding adoption is disturbing at best.

Each adoption should be done in a way that honors the best interests of a child above anything else. In the case described above, not just one family but two families are considering the unthinkable — trading embryos as a person might trade baseball cards.

More troubling still, this is but one example of many we could identify together. Scientists have developed some incredible technology to help identify disease, but this ability to select which we’d like to eradicate means we can choose to destroy embryos that might carry devastating illness. Of course, pre-implantation embryo analysis isn’t always accurate, which means couples might inadvertently destroy perfectly healthy embryos.

We must replace our desire for perfect babies and perfect families with a better and higher calling: families in which every life has value, even lives that biologically don’t conform with society’s ideal. Or that happen to be the opposite of the gender we expected. Or that don’t meet Facebook’s airbrushed standards.

Each of us, after all, is imperfect.

Frozen embryos are babies seeking a home, and babies deserve to be adopted. Anything less sets a dangerous precedent.