Monday, February 15, 2010

Conception Complications (Pt 3)

Another request came to me this week - someone close to me asked for prayer for blessings over an in-vitro fertilization procedure of frozen embryos. A young couple wants a child and has been told that their chances of conception are quite small. And once again, the reality of the choices Christians consider viable includes going outside of creation as God has designed it. The door appears shut to a natural conception within the time frame they would like and with the bodies He has blessed them with - so they are turning to this scientific option Man has created.

I really knew very little about frozen embryos, so I did a little reading to educate myself on the matter. As it turns out, it's pretty straight-forward. A fertilized embryo is the beginning of life:
"Although life is a continuous process, fertilization is a critical landmark because, under ordinary circumstances, a new, genetically distinct human organism is thereby formed....O'Rahilly, Ronan and Müller, Fabiola. Human Embryology & Teratology. 2nd edition. New York: Wiley-Liss, 1996, pp. 8

Frozen embryos are those that have been created in a test tube and then are cryogenically preserved, awaiting implantation in a woman's uterus in hopes of a child. It might be that of yourself and your husband, or it might be your egg and a donor's sperm, or it might be your husband's seed and a donor's egg, or it might even be a fertilized egg donated from two complete strangers.

You see, this process of trying to have what we want with the least amount of trouble to ourselves has in fact created a whole new set of problematic issues for us to deal with. The afore-mentioned ones of options regarding a child's parentage are just the beginning. For those who have given of their own egg and sperm, the decision of what to do with the extras awaits you. What are you to do with those frozen embryos that you do not provide the haven of your uterus to and welcome them into your family with the gift of birth? A great article found on titled What Happens to Extra Embryos after IVF? covers many of the dilemmas this venture has brought forth. An excerpt:

Michelle DeCrane of Austin, Texas, has also been paying for embryo storage for two years. She has a 2-year-old daughter -- and six frozen embryos. "I would love to have another baby, if I were younger -- I'm 40 -- and if money was not an object." She finds herself trapped in a mental loop; while she doesn't have the same mind-blowing love for the embryos as she has for her daughter, neither does she consider them anonymous laboratory tissue. And there's another wrinkle: One of the six embryos is biologically hers and her husband's; the five others were created with donor eggs and his sperm. "What do people do?" she asks. "You have all of these embryos in all of these labs. Are people going to keep doing what I'm doing and pay the $40 a month ad infinitum?"

Some will. Experts estimate that hundreds of thousands of embryos have accumulated in fertility clinics throughout the country, some awaiting transfer but many literally frozen in time as parents ask themselves questions few among us ever consider with such immediacy: When does life begin? What does "life" mean, anyway?

In the case of our friends, they are prepared to be parents to all three children that Mommy might give birth to nine months down the road. So they are not in the position of having to decide what to do with extra embryos. However, I cannot support this industry that has arisen in an attempt to give us all perfect babies that spring forth from our own wombs - whether God gives us this or not. I cannot offer my prayers to theirs in this, and the whole thing saddens me.

It saddens me that parents who want children are sometimes barren.

It saddens me that children who deserve loving homes sometimes wind up with families who betray those hopes.

It saddens me that children find themselves in disrupted situations which shape their character and hurt their ability to trust.

It saddens me that fear is a part of adoption.

It saddens me that we are so consumed with making it possible for parents to get every possible chance (and then some) to be good parents that we extend the season of uncertainty for their children for lengths of time that are detrimental to those kids.

It saddens me that acceptance of difficult things are not seen as tools the Lord might be using to shape us.

It saddens me to write all of this....

No comments:

Post a Comment