HOPKINSVILLE—For many couples struggling with infertility, invitro fertilization (IVF) is the choice they use to conceive. Most often, though, after the family has, for one reason or another, decided to stop growing their family, there are multiple embryos frozen that the couple then must make a decision regarding.
The popular options before them are to donate the embryos to science, where they are essentially destroyed, have them destroyed, or leave them frozen until eventually they are destroyed. Because the pro-life stance dictates that life begins at conception (or fertilization, depending on who is defining it), these embryos are human beings, and destruction of them is essentially dealing them a death sentence.
“These are lives. Life begins at conception,” Whitney Westerfield, Kentucky State Senator from the Third District and chairman of the State Senate Judiciary Committee and member at First Baptist Church of Hopkinsville, said.
“These are tiny babies that are impossible to see with the naked eye at that stage, but are no less deserving of protection and shouldn’t be destroyed,” she said. “We should do everything we can to save them and to give them a place to live and to grow like the children that were brought into the world.”
For this reason and more, he and his wife have joined in on a pro-life endeavor of embryo adoption, resulting in what are known as “snowflake babies,” since they are born from frozen embryos implanted in an adopted mother’s womb. This is becoming an increasingly popular option among those who champion the pro-life cause, and donation of these embryos is now a viable role for biological parents who want to give their embryos a chance at life.
Right now, there are more than 1 million embryos stored. There have been cases of them being frozen for 20 years and successfully implanted. Since the 1990s, more than 7,000 “snowflake babies” have been born, with the first successful one being born in late 1998.
Baby Westerfield, the Westerfield’s first “snowflake baby” but second child through adoption, is due Nov. 29.
The Westerfields shared that they tried for years to conceive, but to no avail. After years of “unexplained infertility” the Westerfields chose adoption. They brought home their baby girl, Hadley, from the hospital where she was born. Immediately, they were in love.
However, with any adoption, they experienced anxiety over whether her biological father would show back up to claim rights and multiple other factors. (Thankfully, none of which came to fruition.) They had already decided against invitro fertilization because of the many variables involved.
After much research and talking with friends who had gone through the same process, they decided on embryo adoption. “There are so many embryos that are on ice somewhere waiting to be adopted. I mean, those are lives that deserve a home,” Whitney shared. “We are thankful that we were trusted to give the embryos that we got a home.”
“We didn’t care about the biological factor for ourselves because we already had Hadley,” Amanda said, adding that they used to really want a biological child. “God just kind of took that desire away and it was no longer about that.”
She continued, “It’s about us having the child that He wanted us to have. We want to have as many kids as He wants us to have, and we don’t care how that happens or where He brings them to us from.”
The Westerfields talked back and forth with the donating family for almost a year. They expressed such thankfulness at the courage it took for the donating couple to “entrust their genetic children” to them. The Westerfields feel they found the perfect couple, not only because they have similar faith and lifestyle backgrounds, but also because this couple incidentally happens to be biracial, making the children’s racial heritage similar to their daughter Hadley’s.
Although there are typical risks involved in any embryo adoption pregnancy, Amanda said she is “feeling healthy, and not really worried about any of that.”
The family plans to have the remaining frozen embryo they are now the parents of implanted in a few years to continue growing their family.
Although they received some pushback from well-meaning people, the Westerfields aren’t apprehensive about telling their children their story one day.
“God is the one creating that embryo and using these doctors to do that. That’s just what we’re going to explain to our children,” Amanda shared. “It might not be normal to everyone, but it’s going to be normal to us. It’s just part of their story.”
“I think it’s a lot better for them to have the story of that they’re a living person. They weren’t left frozen or destroyed in the lab or discarded like they were this piece of tissue. They just needed a womb to grow in,” she added.
They encourage others considering this option to trust that, like any other adoption, “God creates a family, and that child is going to feel like 100 percent yours the minute you see it or hold it and even before then,” they said.
The Westerfields, however, are not the only couple who have used this method to show God’s love, save a life, and expand their family.
Southern Seminary graduate Micah and his wife, Tiffany Childs, have three children through embryo adoption. Tiffany self-published a book detailing her experience, “Of Souls and Snowflakes” (https://ofsoulsandsnowflakes.com/)
In addition, Aaron and Rachel Halbert, evangelical missionaries to Honduras, adopted three “snowflake” baby triplets in addition to the two they had already adopted through traditional adoption. They shared their story with the Washington Post’s opinion section (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/04/21/my-wife-and-i-are-white-evangelicals-heres-why-we-chose-to-give-birth-to-black-triplets/?utm_term=.fa85d11c1ad0).
Embryo adoptions can be arranged anonymously or through an open adoption process. Adopting a “snowflake baby” is significantly less expensive than a traditional adoption. One resource for couples looking to pursue this method of adoption is Nightlight Christian Adoptions.
For families pursuing embryo adoption or who already have “snowflake babies” and are looking to network, Whitney and Amanda invite you to email them at www.whitneywesterfield.com/contact. (WR)