A couple have spoken of their joy about welcoming a baby boy three years after he was first conceived by another couple.
Referring to their son as their ‘snowflake’ baby, Michele and Bobby To, from Colorado, have revealed how they adopted an embryo that was originally conceived by a donor couple in March of 2016.
Following a successful implantation of the adopted embryo into Michele’s womb, baby Alex was born in March this year.
“It feels a little like Alex was waiting for us, frozen for three years,” Michele said.
The couple had already conceived one biological son, Lathan, five, through IVF, but he was born against the odds from the only viable embryo they had.
Keen to give Lathan a sibling, they began the process of traditional adoption in 2017, but when Michele spotted an advertisement for embryo adoption on her adoption agency’s website, the couple began to consider the process as an alternative way to expand their family.
"When couples have extra embryos when their family is complete they have a decision to make,” explains Michele.
"They can donate the embryos to other couples, they can donate them to science or they can destroy them.
"Ultimately we ended up choosing embryo adoption over traditional adoption because, while I had trouble getting pregnant, my pregnancy with my first son was easy and healthy.
"We were concerned adoption would take a while."
Their first attempt at implanting a donor embryo failed in March 2018, but Bobby and Michele were thrilled when they discovered she was pregnant that July.
The couple welcomed 6lb 4oz Alex on March 10 and the mum said being able to carry Alex herself helped fuel a special bond.
Michele said: “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.”
Now the over-the-moon couple are keen to raise awareness about the embryo adoption process which enabled them to become parents.
"A lot of people don’t know about embryo adoption or this alternative route to expanding a family.
"We didn’t until we saw an advertisement on our adoption agency’s website.”
The pair hope to expand their family further using another adopted embryo, which would be Alex’s genetic brother.
Bobby believes other couples who are living with infertility should consider adopting an embryo to grow their family.
According to the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC), up to one million unused embryos are in storage in the US.
Since its inception, the NEDC has performed more than a thousand transfers and assisted in over 600 births.
According to the Human Fertility and Embryo Association (HFEA) if you’ve had fertility treatment, you may have frozen embryos which you decide not to use yourself.
If you'd prefer not to discard them, you could think about donating them to someone else's treatment, fertility research or training.
“Embryo donation or adoption is legal in the UK,” explains Dr Venkat, from www.hsfc.org.uk. “Essentially this is egg and sperm donation, so the same rules apply."
Bobby said: "It is so generous of couples to donate their embryos. It’s certainly been such a gift to us.
"It’s such a selfless thing to donate these embryos to other families like ours and we have Alex because of this and perhaps another sibling if it works out.
"It's an option we didn't even know about and I hope our story brings awareness to it."