This is a brave and honest recollection of an intended parents journey using donated embryos to grow their beautiful family. To learn more about the differences between embryo donation and embryo adoption, click here.
“Oh okay…okay…” head nodding, blank stare…
That’s the initial reaction we get 99% of the time when someone finds out Cori’s pregnant, and we say, “Yes, she is pregnant! Yeah, we adopted our baby.”
Of course, we know it’s not clicking for them, so we save face and keep explaining. Soon enough, their expression starts to cringe as their eyes betray their bewilderment, and they exclaim, “Oh! Wait, you did what??”
Then it hits them. “Oh wow, I have never heard of anything like that before! That is truly amazing!” Next thing you know, they’re in tears, telling their family, contacting us again for more details, and so on.
Since before Cori and I (David) met, we each had the passion to adopt, having both travelled the globe ministering to orphans and outreach programs. Cori herself reaches out in genuine empathy, as she was double-orphaned at a young age, having lost both her parents to cancer.
Ever since we met in 2004, everything about our relationship together has always pointed to our prioritization on marriage first, then immediately on our children second. As psychologists, we feel that good parents for children are those who are good spouses for each other.
We immediately saw how compatible we were, not only for each other, but to raise children together, and nothing would be more fulfilling than to be able to both bear a child and adopt a child. Thus, it seemed logical that we would at least have two children, one natural and one adopted. And so, for the first 6 years of our marriage, we’ve enjoyed watching our nieces and nephews, ministering to orphans, counseling young couples as they prepare for marriage and parenthood, etc.
Early on, we felt God speaking to us about our future children, and one unforgettable word was that our firstborn would be a “miracle,” like one we’ve never heard of. In 2013, Cori got pregnant with our first daughter. After all our experiences loving other children, we were so excited to love one of our own, and we chose her middle name “Faith”. We changed our life around in preparation, but little did we know just how much the word “faith” would play out in this pregnancy.
The pregnancy turned into what seemed like an eternity of our faith being challenged, as our baby suffered mysterious health issues that stumped multiple doctors. Through our agonizing cries, we hoped perhaps this “miracle” we were waiting for would be the healing of our daughter. Cori carried our baby full-term, but before she was born, we lost her. We know she’s with God now and that she is healed in that sense, but no words can describe the excruciating pain and loss we’ve been feeling.
But God still had His promise waiting for us. After much prayer and tears, we decided to push forward to adoption, since this was already a dream we lovingly shared together. With a special place in our hearts for Asia (I myself am Asian) and the desire to have another daughter, we decided to pursue adoption of an Asian girl. But no matter what, after our past difficult experience of “faith”, we simply hoped for “peace.”
Thus in 2015, Cori began the rigorous process of researching adoption, everything from A to Z, the methods, the agencies, the laws, the countries, etc. I even used all her information for a presentation in my social psychology class, and after many hurdles in the process, we also started our own adoption-counseling ministry to come alongside others pursuing it.
As we started narrowing down our search for personal adoption, we held on to the dream of being able to raise at least two children, one that we chose and rescued, and one that we had through pregnancy and delivery. Once again, we would be mystified…but for good.
It was during this research that Cori happened to notice three little words amidst a big manual of adoption she had obtained: “Snowflake Embryo Adoption.” This was something we had never heard of, even after all the research. So on July 29, 2015, we were at an appointment with an agency regarding international adoption where we found out what this embryo adoption was all about.
It surprised us the population of embryo babies being kept in freezers, over half a million in the U.S. It broke our hearts that so many of them are either destroyed or given over to experimentation. It blew our minds the new groundbreaking technology to save an embryo baby from such fate and give them a chance of life…through one’s own personal pregnancy. In other words, to both adopt and bear our child, the same child! This time, no words could express the hope we felt from this amazing, new concept.
Inasmuch that Cori poured into researching adoption, she then poured specifically into embryo adoption. Within a couple more months, we found ourselves at Donor Nexus, working with Mackenzie, (a relationship we’d quickly grow to cherish!), and looking through embryo profiles. Our hearts melted with joy when Mackenzie told us they actually had a healthy Asian Indian embryo girl ready to be adopted.
Step by step, everything continued to be one confirmation after another in favor of us moving forward with this. We knew we wanted a fall baby, so in working backwards from there, December 18, 2015 became our transfer date, making October 9, 2015 our glorious date to commit. It was just a matter of finding $10,000 (to also cover any extra meds and checkups).
Thank God, a mere 2 days prior to the deadline, our credit union randomly contacted us, saying that they pre-approved us for a personal loan of $10,000, no questions asked—perfect amount, perfect timing! We went in the next day and grabbed the check, and the day after that, took it straight to Mackenzie. On October 9, 2015, we walked out as happy, proud parents of our Indian baby girl!
The next couple of months were quite an adventure as we jump-started Cori’s body into pregnancy with numerous, various medicine and hormone injections. She trusted me to meticulously follow the injection calendar, making sure to put the right amounts of the right fluids in the right syringes, into her in the right spots at the right times on the right days. Gone were the days of waking her up each morning to kiss her before work. In were the days of waking her up, saying, “Sorry Baby,” as I drove another needle into her skin!
Of course, Cori was the one dealing with these injections at ungodly hours of morning and night, in addition to other pills and creams on the menu. We’d laugh that nothing else would make a woman willingly go through such a hijack of medicines, symptoms and hormones, except for one reason: to save a baby’s life. And nothing else would make a man willingly hijack his wife with additional hormones, emotions and moods, except for one reason: to save a baby’s life!
December 18, 2015 couldn’t have come any sooner, and we excitedly arrived at the clinic where they had our baby girl waiting. Every little hurdle was a huge prayer request—that Cori could get the acupuncture, that our baby would thaw successfully with healthy vital signs, that the procedure would go smoothly, that she and mommy’s body would accept each other…
And that is exactly what happened. Everything went successfully from beginning to end that day, and what was extra special for us is that they gave us a picture of our daughter when she just woke up from the thaw. (To me, she resembled BB-8 from Star Wars, which just so happened to come out that day, so I affectionately refer to her as “my little Baby-8”).
Besides being perfect timing for a fall birthday, this whole procedure was perfect timing for Christmas as we had family visiting. On New Year’s Eve, after 12 long days of praying, it was confirmed that she latched on to mommy, and mommy’s body accepted her! The next day, New Year’s Day, we had the best pregnancy announcement to tell our family.
This pregnancy has been such a blessing to us, especially after our previous experience, as we have enjoyed so many “extras” beyond a normal pregnancy: we chose our baby, we knew her due date immediately (September 4, 2016), we had ultrasounds every other week and could see her develop every microscopic step of the way—and best of all, we have been able to live the dream of both bearing and adopting a child.
Furthermore, we are her legal birth-parents, so she is 100% ours, through and through. And as an added bonus, I researched (yes, I did a little research too!) and learned that while a baby may have her own established set of DNA, she still uses the mommy’s proteins to interpret that DNA. So our little Indian girl will in many ways take after her English Basque mommy!
Now, my precious bride Cori is a rockstar and supermommy and has definitely been undergoing her exaggerated share of sickness and pain. But every woman is different and every pregnancy is different. And after our previous experience, nothing cheers her up more than to hear her OB at each appointment say that our baby is healthy, right on track, and looking beautiful. That’s a good sign: mommy is so sick because baby is taking all the good stuff! And as of today, Cori is proud to say that she is 33 weeks pregnant with our healthy, adopted daughter.
Without question, another rewarding aspect about this is spreading awareness, inspiring others, and touching lives. After our past full-term loss, it was very emotionally difficult deciding when to start sharing. But then we remembered our greatest motivation through this whole time—we’re saving a baby’s life. Our minds went to the 500,000+ other lives on the line, in the freezers, waiting to be adopted, and we realized: How can we NOT tell the world as soon as possible??
So we began to talk—spreading awareness for this cause. We began telling everyone we could, and before we knew it, we were finding any and every excuse to steer conversations into this, whether at work, the store, the gym, etc. And to our pleasant surprise, we haven’t annoyed one person yet.
If anything, we seem to have made “converts” of the cause, even across borders to people we don’t know. Countless reactions repeat, “Wow, this is so beautiful, I will definitely be telling others!” and “You definitely have my attention, I have never heard of anything so amazing!” Then there are those holding back tears, saying, “I wish I met you guys sooner when I was trying to have children. We will certainly be telling others, before it’s too late for them.”
But what gets us most are the ones we never knew would be so touched, when a friend tells a friend, and that friend then bursts into tears because she was having childbearing problems, wanted to adopt too, but was about to give up on both. Our story brought her hope. And now, we are coming alongside 3 other households in their own embryo adoption process, hopefully with more to come. Furthermore, Cori’s baby shower is coming up with the theme “Thank Heaven for Little Girls,” and she is so excited to take a few minutes and share even more about embryo adoption.
We’d like to close with three major takeaways:
"In closing, we must express our deepest gratitude and highest recommendation for Donor Nexus, for all their hard work and sensitive attention to walk us through this process since the beginning!"
Mackenzie has become a good friend to us, and we visit her as often as possible with updates, so she can enjoy the journey with us.
This journey is certainly one characterized by “peace” as we had hoped for, and one thing we know for sure of our daughter’s middle name (and baby room theme) is that it will be “Dove”, which stands for peace. As God promised us, this truly is a “miracle” pregnancy, one that we never heard of. So many people are telling us she’s going to do great things when she grows up. Well, we stand here today as proud parents to say that she’s already doing great things and touching lives, and she’s not even born yet!
Written by David and Cori Paltza
P.S. If you would like to contact us for any questions or know more about our story, we would be happy to share more and come alongside you in your journey. Please feel free to contact Donor Nexus for our contact info.