A tale of two twins
Apr. 16, 2010 - For adopted twins Meredith and Mason Bonnema, fall of 2008 represents life and a future for both. Their adoptive parents were finalizing plans to welcome them to their new family.
Meredith and Mason were too small to remember that fall, because they were both smaller than the period at the end of this sentence. They spent the first few months of their adoption in deep freeze, waiting for their chance as embryos to be implanted in their adoptive mother, Kari. Transferred the following February, Meredith and Mason were born in October 2009, about one year after being adopted. While their parents were eagerly waiting for them to become part of their family, a completely different plan was being drawn up for other frozen embryos like Meredith and Mason. Voters in Michigan narrowly approved Proposal 2 in November 2008, allowing embryos to be legally destroyed for experimentation.
Put in the unique position of actually living the debate over how to treat frozen embryos not used in fertility treatments, Kari said she was disgusted by the new law. She went through a long process to finally give birth to Meredith and Mason, and she could not understand how some can so easily see and describe live embryos as nothing but mere research material.
"It was appalling," Kari said. "We have pictures of our babies at 4 cells."
Meredith and Mason's tale began several years ago. Kari and her husband Chad had suffered from infertility problems and decided to adopt. They welcomed two children into their family, McKenna, 9, and Madison, 5. Kari though had always wanted to experience pregnancy herself. While waiting for Madison's adoption to be finalized, Kari first heard about embryo adoption through Focus on the Family. Kari said she was very moved when she heard information about how many frozen embryos were waiting for parents in "frozen orphanages," a term that really struck her. After more discussion and prayer, the family decided on embryo adoption.
Their first attempt with embryo adoption in 2005 was unsuccessful. The embryos that were transferred to Kari's womb did not implant. Despite the results and agreeing at the time that their family was complete, Kari and Chad decided later to take another chance and put themselves on the waiting list in May 2008.
Other considerations helped reinforce the Bonnema's decision to adopt again. Her husband Chad knew how much Kari wanted to experience pregnancy, and seeing a fellow coworker go through the exciting moments of pregnancy had made him want that for Kari. They both also felt that frozen embryos deserved a chance at life.
"We [adopted] so I could experience pregnancy," Kari said. "Going through infertility was hard, but those little embryos wouldn't be here without being put in a womb."
They adopted several more embryos that fall, including Meredith and Mason. Their first transfer from he group in December was again unsuccessful. Undaunted, they tried a third time with three more embryos. This time, two of the embryos, Meredith and Mason, survived and implanted in Kari's womb.
"It's totally worth it, even though it took three tries," Kari said. "It was the most amazing thing I've ever done."
While the embryo transfers and preparation for each were anything but ordinary, Kari said her pregnancy was uneventful. She said friends and neighbors were surprised that the twins were adopted embryos, and some say they can't believe it now because Meredith and Mason look just like their adoptive parents. She said few knew embryo adoption was a possibility before they learned about Meredith and Mason's beginnings.
Kari's two other children were excited. She said they both knew that they were adopted and they, too, were fascinated with learning about the embryo adoption process and talk about it now.
"They'll be putting pepper on their eggs and say the pepper is small like an embryo mommy," Kari said.
Kari said the entire family was grateful and excited to help give those embryos the gift of life. While some may still see other frozen embryos like Meredith and Mason as mere objects to be used in research experiments, the Bonnema family continues to experience first hand the amazing potential that comes from something so small.
"Embryos are just children waiting to be born," Kari said. "That's the bottom line. If we didn't give our two children a chance, they wouldn't be here."