After struggling for years to have children the McCrea family had their prayers answered, and then some, thanks to In Vitro Fertilization. Now the family is sharing their extra blessings.
Deb always knew she wanted to be mom. More than that, she wanted to help others fulfill that wish by becoming a surrogate. But in the beginning, Deb and her husband had trouble getting pregnant, and her dream of a being a surrogate mother started slipping away.
But the couple didn’t give up on having a family of their own. Soon, thanks to fertility treatments they had Hunter, then Carter, and then through In Vitro Fertilization, they had Kerynn. After In Vitro, the McCrea’s had more than a dozen embryos remaining, and had three different options: use them themselves, donate them to a clinic, or give them away for stem cell research.
“We went into give life and just because the doctor chose the two that we got doesn't mean the other 18 shouldn't have a chance at life also,” said Deb McCrea.
Deb had nearly signed on the dotted line to donate those leftover 18 embryos to a fertility clinic, but something just didn't seem right.
“When my daughter was born, I went months and months just thinking I just don`t want to sign, I`m just not ready to sign them yet,” Deb explained, “I don`t want to give up that right to see pictures of that child and compare that child to ours, and see what they would have looked like and if they`re healthy and happy, so I always kind of pushed them to the side on the counter.”
So Deb took matters into her own hands, with the goal of fulfilling her other dream of surrogacy- in a different way.
“One day I was just looking on Craigslist and I saw that they had a discussion forum, “ said Deb McCrea, “and I thought why don`t I look on here and see if there`s anybody that`s in that process right now that might be interested in donating and having more of an open adoption of the embryos.”
Just hours after posting, Deb received her first response from a lady in San Francisco, and the interest kept growing from there.
“I think one thing that surprised me was how many people that there really are out there that are looking for something like this. So it really surprised me the response she got after she posted that,” said Kevin McCrea.
Deb then drew up paperwork detailing how this "open adoption" would work. The couple receiving the embryos would be required to give the McCrea’s a picture and update on the child or children every year. Ideally, the McCrea’s would like to be involved in the children’s lives as much as possible.
“We would love to be able to visit and so far that`s the plan, is that we would just go there and visit as friends and that`s all our kids will know them as for a while is just friends and then if and when they are ready to tell their kids, then the kids would know who they are and then we could tell our own and they would know each other as siblings,” said Deb. She continued, “If that doesn't happen and they go back on this I`m not going to sue the people that`s for sure. I think they have a right to privacy if that`s what they end up choosing is right for them as long as we still get the picture and the update, then we`re still getting a whole lot more than we would have if we would have just anonymously donated or given them to medical research.”
Fertility Doctor Don Young said it's rare to have as many embryos as the McCrea’s had left over in the first place, and it’s even more unique to see a couple orchestrating their own donations.
“That`s very rare. I mean open adoptions otherwise are fairly common, but for embryos donated that`s unusual,” said Dr. Young, “Most of the time it`s an anonymous donation. And so we keep track on couples and we try to match them up as far as hair color eye color ethnic background, things like that.”
Doctor Young says there's nothing wrong about doing it the McCrea's way, although he admits it probably more emotional for couples.
“The anonymous method is probably a little emotionally easier for couples. And it`s a little more streamline process I think for everybody involved,” said Dr. Young.
The McCrea’s are ready for that emotion; in fact they've already been dealing with it as they meet the families that could potentially use their embryos.
“In a way it`s almost like adopting out your own child, but in a way it`s not. We look at it as we gave them their looks and they`re giving them their life. It`s still going to be the women who are creating that life and without them our embryos would be nothing,” said Deb.
The McCrea’s have chosen 2 couples, one in Chicago and one in Florida, and have given them 9 embryos each. The couple in Florida is planning a pregnancy try on May 10th and the couple in Chicago is planning for some time in June.