38-year-old Jen McLaughlin is sharing her story of embryo adoption.
The Kirkwood mother was never able to have her own children. She and her husband adopted five. Four are Russian and one is American.
Then she found out about embryo adoption. She found the nonprofit organization "Miracles Waiting." Just by going on the Web site, she was able to find donors who wanted to give their embryos to another couple. And to this strong Catholic, that is just like adopting a child. Jen believes life begins at conception. The donor families post ads on Miracle Waiting's site. They are families who no longer need the frozen embryos.
They also believe embryos are the same as children, and it's against their religious beliefs to give them to research or throw them away.
Jen actually adopted four embryos because she didn't know how many it would take to get pregnant. The first two worked and now she hopes to transfer the other two so Anna and Sarah can be with their biological siblings. In fact, when she found out her adopted son from Siberia had a brother, she flew to Siberia to adopt him, too. Jen feels this is the same situation. She doesn't want another family raising her twins' siblings.
But the day after I interviewed her, the biological mother called to tell her she wants the remaining two embryos back so she can give them to another couple.
Now Jen's attorney is involved to help her fight to keep them. It is important to have a very detailed contract between the donors and recipients.
But Jen believes embryo adoption is a great way to help infertile couples have babies.
Her doctor at the Fertility Partnership in St Charles is Dr. Elan Simckes.
He says regular adoption can cost as much as $20,000. Embryo adoption can cost as little as a few thousand dollars. Dr. Simckes is now starting a non profit organization to help couples in the St. Louis area who want to donate or adopt embryos. He hopes to have it up and running this summer.
Just like traditinal adoptions you can choose to have an open or closed adoption. Jen chose open. She keeps in touch with the children's parents so they can one day meet their biological parents and in case she has any health concerns.
She's also starting a blog to share her story, hoping more people will see Sarah and Anna's story and want to do what she did.
If she is able to keep the remaining embryos, she plans to have them transferred as soon as she finishes breastfeeding the twins.