President Bush, a staunch defender of innocent human life, signed a grant approved by Congress in 2002 to make funds available to promote awareness about Embryo Adoption (Grant #6EAAPA081009-03-01). The grant was used by organizations such as Nightlight, the NEDC, The Embryo Adoption Awareness Center, and other groups to make people aware of their choices when faced with excess frozen embryos. The grant was renewed each year of his presidency, and while the Obama Administration halved the amount, it continued through the first 3 years of President Obama's presidency. However, they have recently decided to eliminate the grant completely, citing the low number of applicants for the grant.
A reporter telephoned me today to ask me for my reaction to the defunding. I had to think for a moment, and my conclusion is that my reaction is multifold.
My gut reaction was, "There's a shocker!" President Obama refusing to protect innocent human life is nothing new. In fact, I've been more surprised that the grant continued at all in his presidency.
I know that America is in a budget crisis. And even if we weren't, I believe in small government with limited federal programs. I can concede that cutbacks are necessary everywhere and that we can't operate the same way we did in the more robust economy of the early Bush years. But if a government is going to spend money, the defense of innocent human life is a worthy priority.
It's hard to feel charitably toward compromise when the 2012 budget still includes tens of millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood, not to mention countless dollars spent to save the whales and the trees. Surely the allowance to Planned Parenthood could have spared that 2 million dollars that was taken from Embryo Adoption Awareness.
The reality is that the innocent human life is always going to fall dead last on Obama's priority list. I am grieved for our country that our current leadership has made the defense of sex and spotted owls a higher priority than the protection of its most innocent children and the education of the parents who will decide those children's fate.
I really don't think this will negatively impact prospective parents. People who want a child will turn over every stone in their quest. I believe that adopting parents can ultimately discover information Embryo Adoption with relative ease.
However, assuming a genetic family is not going to birth their remaining embryos, the only other hope for those embryos to be given a chance to be born is if their genetic parents know that Embryo Adoption is an option and if they have a chance to really learn about it and decide if it is right for their family. I believe that many more people would choose it, if only they knew the option existed and had a chance to interact with it. Organizations like those mentioned above provided education on the process, on open and closed adoptions, and on the overall process. They facilitated the meetings of families with each other. They helped put stories and faces with this unique concept so that if a Genetic Parent wanted robust info, it was there for them. They worked to educate adoption agencies and medical clinics on the process, and offered help to clinics wanting to start their own in-house programs. But in the absence of programs specifically designed to champion these little ones, who will stand in the gap and advocate for these children, and educate their parents? The clinics have a vested interest in persuading patients to undergo their own IVFs. Adoption agencies will do what they can, but without this grant, they will have to rely on private donations, and most are already stretched thin in keeping their other adoption programs in tact. Nadya Suleman ("Octomom") underwent a Frozen Embryo Transfer of 6 embryos that placed her and her children in danger because she simply didn't know she had any other choices. For a woman to undergo any procedure of that magnitude (regardless of the number of Embryos) and not know all of her options is shameful (of her doctor, not her). A woman should never be put in that position. She lived in Southern California, a hub of information, cutting edge technology, top-notch medical care, and the very agency that invented Embryo Adoption, and still, as recently as 2008, she didn't know about an option that had existed for 10 years already.
There are many reasons that people choose NOT to place their remaining Embryos for adoption. Not knowing their choices should never be one of them. Caring for embryos is a life or death decision and parents need to know ALL of their options before making those decisions. I fear that in the absence of resources like this grant, opportunities to continue to educate people about this choice will dwindle, and the 600,000 frozen children in storage will suffer the consequences.
We can stand in the gap for these babies. Blogging is free, and you can speak freely and without edit. I encourage you to tell your story to your children, family, and friends. Talk to clinics in your area about it. Contact the local media about it when anything about frozen embryos or reproductive technology or life-issues pops up. Write to your local, state, and federal officials about Embryonic Stem Cell Research and therapies. If you're an EA mommy, tell people about the miracle of your child. Let your clinic or agency know that you're willing to talk to other interested families. Make your local pro-life agencies aware of Embryo Adoption and see if you can help them promote it. If you're not an EA mommy, perhaps consider becoming one. Above all, pray for these babies. Pray for the clinics who currently care for them. Pray for the parents who will make decisions for their futures. Pray for the people who will parent them.
My husband and I planned to adopt children long before we ever knew about our infertility. We've always had a heart for it, and honestly, the only reason I still occasionally wish for biological children is so that I could still adopt anyway, to serve as an example that you don't have to be childless to adopt. A major pet-peeve of mine is when adoption (of any kind) is treated as an infertility treatment. Adoption can't be and isn't just, or even mostly about infertile people who want children. There are always going to be more children who need homes than there are infertile people. If only infertile people consider adoption, we're always going to be playing catch up and children will continue waiting in vain. Adoption needs to be about the children. It needs to be about people advocating for them, about protecting them, about loving them. Love and advocacy don't depend on how many kids you have already or if your reproductive organs work. I'd encourage you to think about if there is room in your home, heart, and family, for a child in need. These children need us, now, more than ever!