By Marilyn Synek
Created in a laboratory petri dish. Sustained in a warm incubator. A mere comma on a page. Stored in a straw-like test tube. Cryogenically preserved and frozen. I am describing a pre-born child with the unique genetic material of an individual human being created through a procedure called in vitro fertilization.
I and thirty brothers and sisters were created through in vitro fertilization on July 7, 1995. After several embryos were transferred into my mother’s womb, my parents were able to conceive triplets through the procedure. They gave birth to me and two other healthy babies 9 months later. At the time, my parents had three options for what to do with the remaining embryos: dispose of them, leave them frozen indefinitely, or donate them to stem cell research. My parents loved their unborn children and valued the right to life, so they helped spur research for an alternative, frozen embryo adoption. Two years later in 1997, 24 of my brothers and sisters were placed for adoption. Only one embryo survived the thawing process and was able to successfully implant in the uterus lining of the adoptive mother. On December 31, 1998, my sister Hannah Strege, the first adopted frozen embryo, was born.
I met Hannah when I was three years old. Both of our families met up in Colorado Springs where we visited Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family. I last saw her in 2001. The past 14 years from a distance I’ve watched her grow up into a beautiful Godly woman raised in a safe, loving, Christian home. Because she was frozen, Hannah is technically 3 years younger than me, but she has already become a pro-life activist. She and her adoptive family have traveled to Washington DC several times to testify in defense of the children killed through stem cell research. She has inspired me to be involved in the pro-life movement, and I plan to dedicate my life to saving the lives of the unborn.
The Nightlight Christian Adoption Agency named the frozen embryo adoption program after Hannah. They called it the Snowflake Adoption Program because just like Hannah and the other frozen embryos, snowflakes are unique and never again to be recreated. The lives of over three hundred children have been saved through the Snowflake Embryo Adoption Program. However, an estimated 600,000 embryos are in cryogenic storage in the United States. It is essential that couples with remaining embryos and couples unable to conceive become informed about frozen embryo adoption. It not only offers a pro-life alternative to the genetic parents, but gives the adoptive parents an opportunity to experience pregnancy. I am so proud that my parents believed that the right to life is an unalienable right for everyone including the unborn and chose life for me and my brothers and sisters.
Editor’s note. This first appeared in the newsletter of Nebraskans for Life and is reprinted with the author’s permission.