When I tell people that I am not biologically related to my parents, the typical response I get is, "Oh, you were adopted?" I tell them no and that it was my mother who carried me. They begin to get more confused and ask how is it possible that my mother could carry children that did not have her DNA. I simply respond with, "I was IVF." This, of course, sparks a discussion between myself and the person I am speaking with about my origins.
I suppose if I am going to explain my story correctly, I have to go far back, before I was even in the picture. It was 1996, and my parents had recently married and built a house. At first, it was my mother who wanted children, and she had to convince my father. My mother had experienced a miscarriage before, but that did not deter her from wanting to try again. (You see, my parents both had children from previous marriages: My mother had a previous marriage, and had three children. My father had two previous marriages, and had one child from the first marriage.) However, they kept experiencing miscarriages, so my father and my mother went to a fertility specialist for help. However, the specialist gave them devastating news: After testing my mother's egg and my father's sperm beneath a microscope, it was revealed that my parents would never be able to have children together.
My mother then gave up on the idea that her child would come from her.
So, my parents then went to an adoption agency for assistance. There was an issue, though.
The adoption agency was discriminatory, to say the least. They refused to let my parents adopt for two major reasons. They believed that my parents were too old, (My mother was 41 and my father was 48, if you want to know what was viewed as "too old” by the adoption agency), and they also did not like the fact that my father has been married three times. They thought simply because my father's former marriages did not work out, this one was not going to either. (My parents have been married for more 20 years now, without any breaks or separations.) However, they did have one option for my parents; my parents could possibly adopt a family of children from a different country. This meant at least three children, maybe more. Now, this is not to say my parents could not do it, it is just that they had a teenager at home, who was one of my older brothers. My parents did not just want to take in a bunch of kids, and then say to my teenage brother, "Here are your new siblings (that you've never met before)! Love them!" So, after all that, they finally decided to turn to embryo adoption.
My parents had embryos donated to them by a couple who performed IVF, and had fairly-good embryos left over. So, my parents used them, but they all miscarried. They then decided to use IVF in order to create good embryos for themselves, since the semi-good embryos they were taking from other people weren't working. After a few rounds, they kept failing. After their second-to-last miscarriage, the doctor said if my parents kept trying, they could have a baby.
However, at this point, my mother was ready to give up.
She was emotionally, physically, and psychologically exhausted and my father was, too. This just was not working, so perhaps they could just go back to their normal lives and jobs. But then, my father looked up at the doctor and said that perhaps they could try one more time, and my mother agreed. One more time, and if it failed, they would stop all together. So, the doctors got straight to work.
My parents decided that they wanted their children to look like the father, so they chose donors with white skin, brown hair, and brown eyes. They received a lot of information on the donors. The male donor said in his papers that he was 29 years old when he became a donor in 1998, and he also recorded a tape to tell more about himself. There was also a fertility care specialist speaking with him on the tape, and she asked him various questions. He revealed that he was born in Northern Italy, and he had come to America in order to pursue a degree in chemistry. The female donor did not have a tape, but she did have papers and pictures. She said that she was 20 years old, and that she was German and Italian. She also revealed that she had a burst left eardrum due to an infection, which explains why my twin brother and I have ears that very sensitive to infection. Strangely enough though, looking at the female donor's pictures, I realized I did not look much like her, and my twin brother REALLY did not look like her. (Strangely enough, he looks more like the older brother who was a teen at the time of our birth, even though both he and myself are not biologically related to him.) I share a skin, hair, and eye color, and my twin shares much less. The specialists also included some of father's DNA, since some of it was actually good. They then allowed the sperm to fertilize the eggs, and create zygotes that soon began to develop.
And so, three embryos were created. My twin brother, a sibling who died before developing a heartbeat, and myself were all implanted within my mother's womb. After my sibling died, my mother had them removed so they would not harm her, my twin brother, or myself. Then, after 9 months, my twin brother and I were born. I spent a short time in the NICU, and my twin brother was having trouble gaining weight, but other than that, we were perfectly healthy. We went home after the issues were fixed, and I have been living my life in that same house ever since. I do not remember it specifically, but my mother told me that when I was young, I asked something along the lines of, "Am I from you?" Then, my mother explained everything to my twin brother and I.
Do not get me wrong, I LOVE my life. I love my family, my friends, my home, my animals, the like. I know that I am very lucky compared to other kids I know. However, sometimes, thoughts will just comes to me. For example, "What made ME so special?" Such thoughts make me feel as though I am a trophy. That I was scientifically and specifically made for my parents. That the only thing separating myself and getting ripped apart for my STEM cells or getting shoved beneath a scanning-electron microscope to fry me to death with electrons just to get my picture, or simply being thrown away, was the fact that I was wanted and paid for. I also wonder if all of my other siblings who died would have done better in my place. After all, I have a lot of flaws. I am not the smartest person to ever live, I get anxious and nervous often, and I can be insecure. However, I will never let it show because I'm so stubborn and I try not let people see how I really feel - another flaw.
It saddens me to see embryos so frivolously made by IVF. It only has a 30 percent success rate, so you are basically setting up these little lives to fail. Also, as I have mentioned, embryos can be disposed in various ways, because of various reasons. For example, a couple may donate their embryos for "scientific research" because they are getting a divorce, and no longer want those children.
This is why, when I grow older, I plan to adopt embryos. These tiny, little, human lives need someone to nurture them and help them grow. And their original creators are not going to do this. So, if you have the money, and for some reason, cannot adopt fully-grown babies or children, I would highly suggest looking into embryo adoption. If anyone reading this currently has frozen embryos they no longer want, then I would advise them to adopt these little ones out families who desperately want them.
Unless IVF drops its habit of getting rid of embryos and somehow increasing the success rate to at least that of normal conception and implantation, (without harming any human life,) my dream would be the practice would be stopped. As ironic as it sounds, I would have no trouble with the world banning IVF. Perhaps that would encourage the foster and adoptive care systems to improve and update their regulations, since so many more parents would want to adopt and foster.
As I have mentioned before, sometimes I feel like a trophy, created without nature's approval. That perhaps someone else would have done better in my place. However, whenever I feel like that, it is always like this voice is telling me that I was not just scientifically or specially-made for my parents. That I was fearfully and wonderfully made in the eyes of God. And though unfortunately many siblings, and many people like me were never given a chance, that voice tells me that I am here for a reason; that I am part of a bigger plan. I thoroughly believe the main reason why I am here is to advocate for these little lives, and others who cannot speak for themselves, like the children in the womb and at the border.
I thoroughly believe despite where we come from or what our origins are, we are all human and equal from conception onwards. I also believe as a result, we as living human beings should be treated with dignity and respect, no matter what age, no matter what stage.
So, I implore those reading this to join my fight, and defend human life, regardless of whether it is in a nursing home, a wheelchair, a tent at the border, or in a test tube. Why? Because we as humans owe each other at least that much.
To put it simply, IVF created commodified human beings that can be created and thrown out. And, with new tests determining things like the possible IQ and health of embryos, we now have to worry about ableism beginning to infiltrate the practice. For these reasons, I will always stand against IVF, unless it is somehow improved; and, even then, we should consider taking care of the lives which are already here, rather than whipping up some specially-made ones beneath a microscope.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Human Defense Initiative.
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