Couple hoping for early start on adoption
Warings’ own efforts raising awareness of embryo adoption
Richard and Tracy Waring witnessed the birth of the two children they've adopted. The couple hopes to get to know their next child a little sooner.
The Warings are working through a program called Snowflakes to "adopt" embryos that Tracy would carry to term.
"When we heard about it, our hearts went out to children in need," Tracy said. "There's so many babies that need families."
Although not technically an adoption, a couple would legally transfer embryos left over from their own in vitro fertilization process to the Warings. Tracy would have no more than three embryos implanted and carry as many as possible to term, after which the family would raise the child or children as their own.
Having gone through open adoptions with their daughters Bailey and Addison, the couple said they understood how open adoptions -- like an embryo adoption -- could be a positive experience.
"We know how good it can be," Tracy said. "We wanted our kids to know their birth parents. I've seen my girls growing up knowing their birth families."
Richard said he heard about the Snowflakes program on a radio show and didn't think it was for him or his family. He said Tracy heard the same show and thought the same thing. But the more the couple thought about it, the more they began to consider embryo adoption.
"Every time we think we're not supposed to do it, there's always something that says we're supposed to do it," Richard said.
Now, Tracy said the family looked at adopting an embryo like any other adoption -- just at an earlier phase. Both Bailey and Addison said they were excited about the prospect of a younger sibling, although for Bailey having a younger sister is old hat. Addison, on the other hand, had a few names ready -- Junior for a boy and for a girl Jetta, a character from "Clifford the Big Red Dog."
Knowing the pain and disappointment that can come with trying to adopt, the couple said they considered the feelings of their daughters but decided it best to keep the process open.
"They can see what we went through for them," Tracy said. "It establishes in them how much they were wanted."
The process of adopting embryos is an involved one, requiring patience and money. The Warings have been involved in Snowflakes for a couple of years and are constantly raising money to continue the process. Richard said getting the process started cost the couple $500. From there, it cost $1,500 to get in the process of being paired with embryos. The couple would also have to pay the cost of transporting the embryos and the cost of implanting them, an uncertain process that can require several tries.
In addition to donations from the community, the Warings' fruit trees were bountiful this year, and the couple gave away jam for donations both door-to-door and at Eudora and Lawrence businesses to whom they are grateful.
In raising money the couple also raised awareness. Tracy said they attached fliers to the jam explaining what they were doing. Tracy heard from one woman undergoing in vitro fertilization who decided to adopt out her unused embryos.
Other options for leftover embryos include storing them, donating them anonymously to fertility clinics for infertile couples, donating them for research, or destroying them.
Richard said it was unfortunate that embryo adoption was so rare.
"We want people to know there's babies that need families," Tracy said.
Moreover, the couple said after they adopted embryos they hoped to continue raising money to help other families do the same thing. They've pursued politicians and looked into grants to finance the process.
"The goal is after we do this we'd like to help other people in need," Richard said.
Tracy added, "We're not going to quit talking. If we hadn't seen (adoption) in action, we wouldn't know how good it can be."
Tracy said she and her husband were open about their struggles with infertility because they found that such openness helped them find and adopt their daughters. Although having already gone through an unsuccessful pregnancy, Tracy said after having their daughters, giving birth wasn't an issue.
"That issue of having to be pregnant is settled," she said. "Now it's like a bonus, exciting thing."
Tracy said people often thought adopting an embryo rather than a newborn or older child was about her desire to give birth. Instead, she said it was about babies needing someone to birth them.
"They deserve that option and that right," she said.