“It feels a little like Alex was waiting for us, frozen for three years,” Michele To, of Arvada, told SWNS of her infant son. “It’s kind of neat.”
Alex joins an older brother, Lathan, who was also conceived via in vitro fertilization in June 2013, but was the only viable embryo the Tos had. When it came time to give him a sibling, after a failed round of IVF using their own eggs and sperm, they considered traditional adoption but then saw an advertisement for a process called “embryo adoption.”
“When couples have extra embryos when their family is complete they have a decision to make,” Michelle To told SWNS. “They can donate the embryos to other couples, they can donate them to science or they can destroy them.”
While the process is referred to as “embryo adoption,” it legally does not qualify as such. The term adoption in the U.S. applies only to the placement of a child after they are born.
In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported there were an estimated 284,385 assistive reproductive technology (ART) cycles attempted in the U.S., resulting in 78,052 live-born infants. The CDC said the main type of ART reported in the U.S. is IVF, with an estimated 1.7 percent of all children born in the U.S. each year being conceived through ART.
However, the process of IVF can result in unused embryos, which are then stored for potential later use. For couples like the Tos, the option to choose an embryo based on genetics while also getting to experience pregnancy is appealing. Their first attempt with a donated embryo in March 2018 failed, but the second round in July resulted in a healthy pregnancy.
“I got to experience the bond that comes with nursing and I got to carry Alex inside me for nine months and that was very special,” Michele To told SWNS.
The Tos said they plan to be open and honest with their son about his family history, and that they are in communication with his genetic family via email.
The Tos also said they are hopeful about expanding their family again through embryo adoption and would choose an embryo genetically related to Alex.