Adoption is a special blessing for Kari and Chad Bonnema of Grand Haven, Mich. They have four adopted daughters: McKenna, Madison, and twins Meredith and Mason.
But Kari actually gave birth to the twins, who celebrated their first birthday in October. They were adopted as embryos and implanted in Kari after in-vitro fertilization.
Embryo adoption is still relatively unknown. It involves adopting embryos that are donated by someone who had extra embryos after undergoing in-vitro fertilization procedures. Some estimates put the number of frozen embryos at 400,000 in the U.S. alone.
The Bonnemas first heard about embryo adoption in 2004. They thought it seemed risky, but the more they prayed about it, the more it seemed like something they wanted to try.
“I always wanted to have the pregnancy experience. Embryos are lives just waiting to be born, so these babies would have the chance to live and I would have the chance to be pregnant,” said Kari.
Although the Bonnemas adopted their first two girls through Bethany Christian Services, at that time Bethany did not offer embryo adoption, so the Bonnemas used a nearby fertility clinic and a Christian fertility doctor.
“Embryos are made in other (donor) parents by God, at the clinic they are grown into cells, and then they were transferred to me. We actually have a picture of our babies as tiny cells,” said Kari.
Just like adoptions of already-born babies, there are several types of embryo adoptions, ranging from the donor parents selecting the adoptive parents to the adoptive parents only knowing identifying information about the donor parents.
The Bonnemas say they will continue to share their story to help others become aware of embryo adoption.
“Embryo adoption did take us three tries. I think that was God's timing, but it did work finally and we are so thankful. Knowing how much effort we went through, we appreciate every child more, and not just our [own] children. Children are just a gift from God, however you get them,” said Kari.
For more information about embryo adoption, visit the websites of Bethany Christian Services (www.bethany.org), the Snowflakes program of Nightlight Christian Adoptions (www.nightlight.org), or www.embryoadoption.org.