- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 19, 2009

Second of two parts

Even though warm spring weather is here, the snowflakes on the necklace Cara Vest wears will not melt.

“Especially in the summer, people come up to me all the time and say, ‘Why are you wearing snowflakes?’” Mrs. Vest said.

She happily explains the silver snowflakes represent her two children, who were adopted as frozen embryos from another couple who had “extras” after having children via in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Welcome to family-building in the 21st century.

Embryo adoption recently celebrated its 11th birthday. The Vests’ 6-year-old son, Jonah, was the 13th “snowflake baby” to be born.

In just three years — 2004 to 2006 — 988 babies have been born by this process, says one medical researcher, citing federal data. The total number born since Snowflakes Frozen Embryo Adoption Program was founded in November 1997 might conservatively be closer to 3,000, says Ron Stoddart, executive director of Nightlight Christian Adoptions, the agency that pioneered the process.

With an estimated 500,000 cyropreserved embryos in storage, there soon could be a blizzard of babies born through embryo adoption.

Whether it takes off will depend on public awareness and acceptance, especially among couples who have “extra” embryos, observers say. The issue of embryonic stem-cell research is also a factor, as most people currently think “excess” embryos are best donated to laboratories.

In addition, questions remain over whether the transfer of frozen embryos should be termed an “adoption” or a “donation.”

And while some adoption agencies, such as Bethany Christian Services, embrace embryo adoption, others, including Catholic Charities, do not.

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Part 1: Last days of adoption?

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