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Thursday, May 2, 2013

184

Bake-at-Home Babies: Embryo Adoption and Me

Embryo adoption is a Real Thing That Exists.

We found this out in the fertility specialist's office right after he confirmed what we'd been pretending we didn't know for a few years: my husband and I are unable to make babies by ourselves. But, we wanted to experience the wonder and joy of pregnancy and birth (later, "wonder" and "joy" will be represented by "aches" and "vomiting").

We weren't necessarily closed to the possibility of traditional adoption, but we wanted to exhaust every option we had to go through the full experience of bringing a child into the world.

He runs through those options:

A) IVF: laughably expensive and won't work with our specific fertility issue anyway.
B) Sperm donation: not for us — we were uneasy about having children who were only genetically related to one of us and any emotional complications it might cause.
C) "What about embryo adoption?" the doctor asked. "Uh..." we stared blankly at him, and he began to explain.

When people go through the IVF process, they have many embryos created — usually more than they will end up using. Some people decide that they do not want to destroy these excess embryos or donate them to scientific research, so they "donate" them to be "adopted" by other infertile couples. IVF is improving all the time; eventually it is believed that the process will be perfected to the point where only as many embryos as are needed will be created, so we were poised at the perfect moment in history to take advantage of this technology. The actual procedure is basically the same as IVF — drugs, drugs, drugs, doctor transfers embryos to uterus, drugs, crossed fingers, pregnancy — except the embryos are not your own, biologically speaking.

It's sort of like, if you don't have flour and milk to make your own bread from scratch, you get those bread rolls from the supermarket that are not quite fully cooked, then you take them home and bake them for like ten minutes and voila, perfect hot fresh bread. Bake-at-home babies.

The laws around embryo adoption are starting to catch up with the technology, but they differ from state to state. In our case, the adoption process was like a hybrid of contract law and regular adoption laws. The embryos cannot be sold (possibly because they count as human body parts, legally?), and the donors cannnot be compensated financially, so the actual giving from the biological parents to the adoptive parents is covered in a contract facilitated by the embryo adoption center, but because we are talking about potential human children being created here, prospective adopting couples must also go through a process to determine their suitability as parents (this is called an adoption home study) just as regular adoptive parents do. The adoption can be "closed" (no contact with the biological parents, and neither party gets much info about the other; the adoptive parents get a short medical history and basic physical info like height, eye color, ethnic background etc.) or "open" (negotiable amount/type of contact between the donors & the children).

The cost of the whole thing (adoption home study, transfer, drugs) varies depending on things like the state you live in, your health insurance coverage, and the center you use. It will probably be in the thousands, but nowhere near as many thousands as IVF.

Google is your friend.

We found the embryo adoption organization we wanted to go with pretty quickly. Many of the other websites were off-puttingly saccharine, referring to "snowflake babies." At first I thought this was something to do with being unique and special snowflakes, but it turns out it's because they're from frozen embryos (get it? Snowflake. Frozen).

We were told that the success rate (of delivering a "snowflake baby") is around 30%.

To me, the whole embryo adoption industry seemed to have a disturbingly religious aspect to it (full disclosure, I am an atheist who was raised Baptist). There is a lot of talk about giving these excess embryos a "chance at life." Many people working in this area and a lot of the donating couples seem to be overtly "pro-life" fundamentalist Christians, and in my experience many seem to assume you must also be the same kind of Christian, although their website says they do not discriminate against anyone based on belief system alone. They will discriminate on another basis, though — the most disturbing side of this religious aspect is that currently embryo adoption is only available to legally married, heterosexual couples. They literally will not let you go through the process unless you are a straight, married couple.

During the adoption home study, our relationship, our home life, our financial situation, and basically every aspect of our life was picked over to determine our suitability as parents. We each had to answer 16 pages of incredibly personal, often invasive  and gut-wrenchingly emotional questions. A social worker visited us multiple times. To our relief, she pronounced us emotionally and financially ready for parenthood (HAHA. ha).

Embryo adoption guidelines vary a little from IVF. Embryo donation doctors will not transfer more than three embryos at a time, because they determine this is the maximum number to give the greatest chance of a successful pregnancy while not causing too much stress to mother and fetuses. So no chance of becoming the next Octomom.

They call it a transfer, not implantation, because there is currently no way to actually implant the embryos; they have to do it themselves. All the doctor can do is pop them up there on your uterine wall and hope they cling on.

Having chosen a closed adoption, we received via fax (!) about 30 profiles. They included basic information about the donor couples — height, hair/eye color, age (presumably at the time of embryo creation), ethnic/racial background — plus information on the number and developmental stage of their embryos. It is recommended to use embryos from the same group; this way all resulting children will be biologically related. If you choose to use a mixed group (from more than one set of donors), if/when a child is born you will be obliged to pay for genetic testing to determine which donors it came from. You might choose to use a mixed group if your chosen donors have less than three embryos, to have the highest chance of success.

All the prospective parents receive the faxes on the same day, so we had to make arguably one of the biggest decisions of our life via several frantic hushed phone calls (both of us at work) and reply back to the donation center as fast as we could in order to have the best chance of getting our preferred donors.

You will want to choose donors who have a large number of embryos because not all the embryos will survive the thawing process. Another reason is that you may not be successful the first time. You will be given up to three transfer attempts. If you are unsuccessful at carrying to term after three chances, the center will not do any more transfers as it is basically a waste of embryos (although they word it much more sensitively than this). If you do have a baby, and want to try for another child after that, you get three chances again, even if you were only successful on the third try.

Shortly after we made our donor choice, we drove for a million hours to the embryo adoption center (a few states away) so they could do a test transfer (no actual embryos involved yet) to determine if it is even worth doing the real one. I still have no concrete idea what the test transfer actually achieved/involved other than jamming things up my lady business and peering at them via ultrasound. For some reason, I had to have an extremely full bladder (to the point where I was squirming and the doctor was laughing at me; I feared for their carpeting) for this to work.

The doctor asked us if we were prepared for more than one baby, as this was common with embryo transfer pregnancies. We confidently said "Twins would be great! Triplets might be a little much, haha." The doctor chuckled with us. Haha.

The test transfer was successful and we returned home happy and hopeful. Then came the drugs. It started with a daily injection in the belly. I did this one myself, until one time I jabbed the needle in a little too hastily and it bounced back out; a little red sphere of blood welled up, and I lost my nerve. I made my needle-phobic husband do the rest of them. Later, another daily injection was added. This one in my butt-cheek — he had to do this one for me as well, since I couldn't do it to myself at the correct angle. I was warned that it might make me dizzy, but not that the first one would make me pass out and wake up a moment later on the kitchen floor with no memory of falling and my husband standing over me freaking out. It didn't happen again, but they did hurt, because the needles are freaking huge. I was taking birth control (so the doctors will know exactly where you are in your cycle) and various other pills.

The magic happens.

The day before the transfer, we again drove a million hours to the embryo adoption center. Their instructions tell you to get a good night's sleep, and that having sex the night before seems to increase the chances of ending up pregnant, for reasons unknown. The morning of, I took the Valium they gave me and drank a metric ton of water, as instructed. I smugly thought myself very well-prepared for having shaved my bikini area, given that there would be a doctor and several nurses looking at it and jamming things up there, but as it turned out they basically laughed at me and then poured sterilizing alcohol all over it.

After the transfer was done, they sent me to lie down in a hospital-style bed for a couple hours to give the embryos a chance to settle in. I think I must have slept for a while; my recollections are very hazy, thanks to the Valium. The doctor proclaimed the transfer a success; all they had to do now was hold on.

The nurse said something inappropriately religious as we left, but I was still too floaty from the drugs to respond. Then we were sent off with instructions not to leave town for 24 hours, and to not do anything even remotely active. This was fine by me, because nothing is my favorite thing to do, and the hotel had cable. The next day, we drove a million hours back home, and continued with the injections and pills and multivitamins, crossing all available fingers. We nicknamed our embryos the Limpets, to psychologically encourage them to hold fast.

We went to a local doctor for the nine week ultrasound. Lo and behold, three little dots appeared on the monitor, clinging to my uterine wall for dear life. The doctor said airily that one or two would most likely drop out between 9 and 15 weeks.

At 15 weeks, there were three little gummi bears on the screen. What have we done, I thought. Triplets might be a little much, we'd laughed. And the doctor laughed with us! But, we thought, three is definitely better than none.

From that point, the biggest difference between my pregnancy and a regular pregnancy (apart from the whole three-at-once deal) was that I had absolutely no idea what my children would look like beyond a vague prediction of possible hair/eye colors. Were their biological parents attractive or horrendous? I felt like a terrible person for fervently hoping the former.

Our triplets are now two years old, and as it turns out, they are startlingly attractive. We have our ups and downs just like any other family — just more of each — and I have a quiet giggle whenever anyone marvels over how they look just like you/your husband.

A Mom of Triplets credits the Hairpin with her remaining shreds of sanity.

184 Comments / Post A Comment

iceberg

EEEEEEEEEEEEE except no one will read it because GoT hotties. Hahaha.

Nicole Cliffe

I totally just had THE EXACT OPPOSITE FEAR.

stonefruit

@iceberg INCORRECT.

"This was fine by me, because nothing is my favorite thing to do" - Amen, sisterfriend. Amen.

leonstj

@iceberg - I thought it was wonderful! (I'm not really into medieval stuff or hot dude lists, so THANK YOU for some lunch time reading!)

I had no idea this was a thing! I also don't really have any questions, but only cuz you answered them all.

par_parenthese

@iceberg OMG OMG When I saw it was you I came down here to say ilu, icebergie before I even read it and I don't watch GoT and this article is my life and I'm a little over excited right now

honey cowl

@par_parenthese ilu parenthesie, bc I don't watch GOT either we are twinsies

JanieS

@iceberg SO MUCH MORE INTERESTING THAN GoT! Thanks a lot!

PatatasBravas

ICEBERG YOU BEAUTIFUL PIECE OF ICE, THIS IS WONDERFUL

noodge

@iceberg when I read "no more than three embryos" I KNEW IT WAS YOU!!!!

having gone through/planning to go through more attempts at pregnancy, it's so awesome to hear about people who have gone through it and remained relatively sane.

fondue with cheddar

@iceberg ICEBERGIE! This was great! And very interesting! And unlike the GoT post, there are no spoilers because I already know how it ends. ;)

par_parenthese

@honey cowl pintwins

beatrix

very nice I love it bad!!!!!@l

Jobs In Logistics

May times careers are decided by an individuals belief in his/her capability. Bill Gates left Harvard to co-found Microsoft. If he had continued at Harvard, he might not have reached where he is today. He might have gone the conventional way of taking up the best job offering a good salary. Instead he pursued his natural talent in software. I needn't talk further about him. People actually take up jobs and see how they cope up with the same. It has been seen in many cases, where executives keep on flitting between different jobs and departments and ultimately take up something else which is very
different from what they started with. Its this experimentation which helps them discover their natural talent. People learn about their own temperament with experience. They slowly move towards their goal. Very few are able to transform their avocations into their vocations.7.5tonne driving jobs

iceberg

Okay guys I actually have a question to Ask Everyone: (with a long backstory)
The Bergy Bits are 1/4 Latino (this is the ethnicity as given by the bio parents, I don't know anything more specific). Mr Iceberg and I are... Not. We both look 100% white. Only one of the Bergy Bits LOOKS Latino, with darkish skin, dark hair and eyes.
While I am not ashamed of how they were conceived, and I want them to be proud of all their heritage, contained in all of that is our inability to conceive on our own, which is private! Does anyone have any advice on how to navigate questions about their ethnicity in such a way that communicates to THEM that it is something to be proud of while not necessarily giving straight answers to inquisitive strangers etc?

milominderbender

@iceberg What about something like "we [the kids] have latino ancestry in our family" if you're comfortable with them thinking about their biological history as "family" in a generic sense? If that's your approach philosophically, I guess you could even describe it as latino heritage in "your family."

thebestjasmine

@iceberg I think this all depends on the questions that you get. I like the above answer, except that holy shit when I think of what the question would be to prompt such an answer I get so pissed off for you (for both race and fertility reasons!).

DullHypothesis

@iceberg that's a tough one. Are you worried that people will ask why one of them has darker skin? I have a Latina friend and her and her siblings are all different skin tones. She just says something dismissive and jokey like "well the mailman was swedish so that can't be it!"

Miss Maszkerádi

@iceberg If someone words it really bluntly and rudely like "why is that one a different color" or something, I'd probably go off on a deliberately verbose and boring lecture on Mendelian genetics until they went away.

Olivia2.0

@iceberg First off - great piece! I'm having fertility issues, and this was just lovely. Secondly - inquisitive strangers should go fuck themselves, especially upon the topic of the racial/ethnic heritage of one's CHILDREN, and thirdly, I know that Illinois has some kind of "cultural training" aimed at parents who are adopting outside their own racial/ethnic background. Maybe get into contact with a more traditional adoption type agency and see if they can recommend something?

laurel

@iceberg My Anglo American friends adopted two Mexican girls. My friends now tell strangers things like "we're part English, part Mexican..." without specifying who in the group has which parts.

DullHypothesis

@Olivia2.0 Oooo, yes my mom's friend adopted a child who's biological father was Latino, and although her husband/adopted dad is also Latino, it was a different ethnic heritage. (He is Mexican, the child's bio dad is Salvadorian) and they did this to learn more about Salvadorian culture! It was really interesting and helped them out a TON.

par_parenthese

@Olivia2.0 Those kind of nosy questions just BLOW MY MIND. And its not like it's a new thing -- my fair-skinned grandmother (a minister's wife, for crying out loud) tells stories of many people asking what the milkman looked like because one of her kids had black hair and olive skin... even though that kid looks EXACTLY like the rest of the family.

pajamaralls

@Miss Maszkerádi oh, straight up. My sister has medium brown skin and black hair while I have light skin, freckles (oh god, so many freckles) and sort of reddish-gold hair. People have always assumed we had different dads and that mine was white. I usually told them that I am a study in recessive genes.

Lily Rowan

@iceberg I feel like you should tell inquisitive strangers to fuck off. Or, I mean, say something more polite but still pointed like, "Oh! What a personal question!"

I like milominderbender's notion of Latino heritage in your family for people you actually know/want to talk about this with.

But people in even all-white families do look all different kinds of ways anyway.

karenb

@iceberg in communicating it to them, i suppose a lot of that is wrapped around how you're going to tell them they came about - and how much they know at the time about Where Babies Come From, Sometimes From Science. If they know that one of their bio-donors is 1/2 Latino, then maybe you could chat about the history of that part of the world, if they are interested, learn Spanish, maybe, cook regional food?
Inquisitive strangers should mind their own business, for all they know one of your parents could be Latino, that really doesn't have any say in what you end up looking like. I like Miss Maszkeradi's advice to give a lecture on genetics.

Judith Slutler

@pajamaralls Some people just need a smack in the face. A friend of mine who has one black parent and one white one, and she married a guy who has 2 black parents and is darker than her. One kid has about her skin tone, one has about his, their hair is different or whatever, and she has a ton of stories about people assuming they have different dads. WHY. And even if someone does assume that, why would they ask intrusive questions about it???

MilesofMountains

@iceberg My family is biracial (native and white), resulting in my three vaguely-ethnic looking siblings and very white-looking me. My siblings get the occasional "what are you?" or people trying to guess, which I've never gotten, but I can only think of twice that anyone's ever commented on that. Most recently, my brother dismissed it with "She takes after the mailman. The rest of us take after the milkman." You might not want to teach the Bergy Bits that one, though.

iceberg

@karenb Oh they're going to get the full story, in age-appropriate increments I guess.

I think I might go with "Genetics, funny stuff right?! Haha.*shrug*" for nosy strangers. Or "They have some Latino heritage *big smile*" and *Maggie Smith raised eyebrow* at any follow-up questions :)

enic

@iceberg Ohh yeah I have dark brown hair, tan skin, brown eyes, and get quite dark in the summer. My brother is a redhead with freckles! My other brother is in between skin tones with light brown hair. So I think "Oh yes, isn't it interesting how people in the same family can look so different" is great. a) The triplets are in the same family in all senses of the world and b) you and mr. iceberg ARE in the same family as the bergie bits, and you DO look different because families come in lots of different forms.

Question... Will/at what age do you think the kids should have their own agency over their birth story/heritage (are these terms weird, they sound weird to me right now...)? If your kid(s) wanted to be open about it, how would you feel about that? Just curious.

Ellie

@Miss Maszkerádi One of my mom's best friends is half Indian and half German, and married a man who is also half Indian and half German. One of their kids looks 100% Indian (and has darker skin and hair than both parents) and the other looks 100% German (blond hair, blue eyes).

iceberg

@enic "Oh yes, isn't it interesting how people in the same family can look so different" yep using this THANKS!!!

actually Mr Iceberg's mum was about the same coloring as the darkest Bergy Bit even though Mr. Iceberg is pale as, so people who know us a bit better are paradoxically less curious.

As to your question we haven't figured that out yet, I actually don't really care that much but Mr. Iceberg is much more private.

pajamaralls

@Emmanuelle Cunt I've known college-aged, pseudo-adult people who have asked people why they look nothing like their family and the person was blunt and told them "Yes, I'm adopted." The wondering why I look so different from my family is one thing, but then questioning my parentage like my mom's been lying to me my whole life makes it a whole 'nother level of asshole.

Related:My mom loves this story that, when I was few months old, she walked into a store with me. And on the tv there was a news story about a white baby that had been kidnapped. And so my mom, with her brown skin and black hair walks in with a baby with white skin and big blue eyes. And the dude behind the counter looks at my mom, and then me, then back at my mom. And my mom just goes "SHE'S MINE."

apples and oranges

@iceberg My sibling and I look very unalike, could look like we have different racial/ethnic backgrounds depending who's looking at us. I don't know if our parents got rude or annoying questions but now that we are older, we've perfected our response to people who tell us we don't look related -- tell them that the resemblance is all in the elbows. Or big toe. Or wrist bone. Basically any other random body part.

Catina Wig

@iceberg my husband and i both are a pretty mixed bag of genetics, and no one asking about my sons ethnicity has ever been cruel about it, just curious. but people def do ask, especially in summer when both my kid and my man start to look very exotic due to thier skin tone. i usually blow it off with a general "oh we're american mutts, a little bit of everything!"

fondue with cheddar

@iceberg I have a friend who has a sister. Both are white with some Puerto Rican ancestry (less than half I think). My friend is a fair-skinned, freckled blonde with a round face and very large breasts; her sister is medium-skinned with black hair, a narrower face, and average breasts. They look nothing alike but have the same parents.

I also once met twin toddlers who looked identical except that one was dark-skinned and one was medium-skinned.

Genetics, man!

iceberg

@thebestjasmine
"Hey! Your kids mixed?"
*freeze* "Uh... what?"
"Your kids, are they mixed? Is their daddy black?"
"Oh! Um... *stalling* No?"
"Oh. Your boy, he looks darker than the others, so I thought their daddy might be black."
"Nope!" *hastily pulls wagon full of children away before questioning gets more intense*

The guy asking was black, so I thought it wasn't as bad as if a white person asked because they really are gorgeous and he was just trying to "claim" them in some way? But obviously I failed at answering, so I wanted to have something prepared for next time!

fondue with cheddar

@iceberg THEY'RE NEAPOLITAN

blueblazes

@iceberg Shame on anyone who has the audacity to ask about your kids' backrounds based on their appearance. :) They are just asking for awkward.

machinesss

@iceberg I'm biracial, white and black and it blows my mind how rude people are. When I used to work as a cashier I would get asked about it like every shift, and people were so brutal about it. I've had men try and hit on me by calling me exotic looking too, which makes me want to strangle them.

I used to explain my background but I've gotten pretty tired of it and when strangers ask at this point my responses are rather hostile, usually along the lines of 'none of your fucking business'.

iceberg

@fondue with cheddar haha that's perfect!

thebestjasmine

@iceberg Oh, in this case the answer is "None of your fucking business." Though I suppose with your kids there, the answer could be "Wow, what a personal question!"

iceberg

@thebestjasmine well yes! but I don't want to communicate to THEM that there's anything to hide as far as their racial heritage; the only reason I don't care to answer is because theirs isn't mine and why that is.

fondue with cheddar

@iceberg They may be different flavors but they all come from the same box. ;)

adorable-eggplant

@iceberg That is just the tip of the iceberg (harhar) but yeah, it's a tough one. Also, because some people are more insistent than others. What might help is thinking about what end goal you have for how the triplets feel about answering that question themselves (which they probably will someday, unless there's some big manners development, which I'm not holding my breath for).

So something like, "When some one asks them that question I'd like them to feel a breezy confidence and a have a layer of icy polite protection to back that up." What used to trip me up when answering that question was feeling like I owed the inquirer some satisfying explanation for why I looked like X but I didn't Y, and by the why how did you get Z feature? It took me some time to realize that I wasn't the anomaly, but rather a perfectly normal example of how we're all pretty different from one another. So maybe emphasize to them their normalness, but also explain that people might be confused but that confusion is a result of not having bumped into someone exactly like them.

Maybe reading some transethnic adoption blogs would help too? For finding language to talk about the difference between your experience of the world and theirs. I found this article really moving, for example: http://relativechoices.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/11/19/i-am-not-a-bridge/

My parents were pretty unaware of how the challenges they faces would be different from the challenges I might face (as someone with one foot in two different cultures), so I think it's great that you're looking for better answers already.

@iceberg ETA: "well yes! but I don't want to communicate to THEM that there's anything to hide as far as their racial heritage." Thanks, that's exactly what I was trying to get at!

iceberg

@fondue with cheddar HAHAHAHA you said "box"

thebestjasmine

@iceberg The thing is, even if their heritage was yours, it would still be a fucking rude question! It doesn't say anything to your kids that there's something wrong with them, it says that there's something wrong with someone else for asking questions like that. Asking personal question's about someone's background and parentage, especially a stranger or someone you've just met, is completely rude. So that's just a rude and personal question no matter who you are, and I think "What a personal question." is a fine response no matter what. Your kids will learn from you just fine that there's nothing to be ashamed of, and that you respect and honor their heritage, this I have faith in.

selyse

@iceberg My brother and I are adopted - we're Korean, our parents are white. I remember getting A LOT of questions growing up (and even now) about our family. Many times these questions were (are) intrusive, overly personal, rude, awkward ... you name it. Unless the person seems like they're just aching to unload some sort of bullshit racist screed, I just figure it's coming from a place of genuine, harmless curiosity and answer as forthrightly as possible. Perhaps they're curious about adoption themselves. A lot of times, when questions have come from older folks, they had kids or friends who were embarking upon an international adoption and were worried about what it would be like. If sharing some personal information about my family and how adoption was awesome for us can help some other people be more comfortable with it or even just more aware of the different ways families are created, then I don't mind a few awkward encounters. Obviously, the Bergy Bits have a much more complicated (and private!) backstory, but you know, for people who don't read The Hairpin (horrors!) and have never heard of embryo adoption ... a condensed version of your story might be really helpful/enlightening! Anyway, congratulations and thanks for such an amazing story.

missupright

@MilesofMountains My family is the whitest, English-est looking set of people I have ever seen, except for my baby sister, who is dark olive-skinned with dark-brown-almost-black eyes, and just a completely different build to the rest of us (but not unlike my cousins, interestingly), and people have always just straight-up demanded to know why.

I have to say, "Is she your real sister?" is one of the worst things I've ever been repeatedly asked (even, once, by a teacher, when I was 11!), because she isn't my full-biological sister, no, because I have a different biological father to my sisters. I'm the odd-one out, only I got the English-y genetics, so nobody asks me.

Ugh. I just don't know why you would ask a stranger about their genetic make-up. Family is what you make it, and god knows you really really don't need anybody else's input.

(Also, iceberg, you're wonderful, and your writing is really compelling and comprehensive!)

fondue with cheddar

@iceberg I said that on purpose! I'm glad you picked up on it! Now you just need one of those metal scoopers that warms up in hot water so it slides THIS METAPHOR HAS BEEN TAKEN TOO FAR.

Lily Rowan

@machinesss Shit, I used to get "you mixed?" as an opening line to being hit on, and I'm white. I just tan well. (And apparently "Hi, how are you?" isn't a good enough opening ling.)

adorable-eggplant

@iceberg Also, read The Truth about Stories by Thomas King. It's really been (for me) the most important book as far as helping me be comfortable claiming/defining my own identity. Really, it's super cool. Although it could also be that I read it at just the right moment and so it stuck with me.

@fondue with cheddar My mom used to call me and my half sibling her cinnamon sugar and powder sugar donuts respectively, which I've alway thought was a sweet way of acknowledging the distinction without belaboring the point.

adorable-eggplant

@Lily Rowan I'm imaging a pick-up artist reading this thread and taking notes, so that his next encounter will go something like:

Him: "Hi, how are you? ... You mixed?"
Other person: "..."

iceberg

@selyse @adorable-eggplant @everyone

Thanks you guys! This thread is proving very helpful! I may use all of y'all's answers depending on the day ;)

Lily Rowan

@adorable-eggplant Ha ha ha!

Better to Eat You With

@enic My brother and sister and I *do* all have different fathers, and the fathers look as different from one another as it's possible for three (mostly?) white men to look, and we all look like our dads. To make it even more fun, I'm the youngest, and my father adopted my brother (oldest) but not my sister (middle--was still in touch with her dad), so the oldest and youngest had the same last name growing up and the middle was different.

When it's as obvious to people as all this is, they just get flabbergasted and don't say anything, which is pretty entertaining.

Joey

@iceberg : What a good question. And first: wow, I loved this tale, and I'm so, so happy for you and your family! Ok, back to your question: here's a roundabout look at it: my husband is 1/4 Mexican and I assumed my ancestry was 100% Northern European, mostly Celtic, based on what I'd heard. When I got some genetic testing for celiac, turns out I have Southern European ancestry. So, this has nothing to do with your issue, right? But maybe kind of? "Our family's ancestry is from all over! Northern Europe, Southern Europe..." Si? Because we have a daughter who is gorgeous! And we have a grandmother in the family who is a step grandmother but we never refer to her as such, she is just Grandma, and she is Italian! And another close relative who is a step but not seen as such and his ancestry is from yet another corner of the globe... So, there's that whole "our family hails from ..." that feels accurate and true, without delving into more private familial relationship issues.

MidoriSour

@iceberg It's funny -- I'm adopted and am short, fair skinned, with red hair and blue eyes. My parents are tall, olive skinned, with dark hair and brown eyes. Everyone used to tell me I looked exactly like my mom. This is... completely untrue. But I guess we used the same gestures and mannerisms and it made us look alike. And I have an uncle with red hair, so I used to just say "my uncle has red hair" which solved the "where did you get the red hair" question. Now granted he was my uncle by marriage, but it was a true enough statement.

As far as the ethnic soup, I used to combine my adoptive parents (Irish, German, Czech) with my birth parents (French, Spainsh, Irish) which was enough of a mix that no one ever questioned further. They are all versions of white, though, so I'm not sure it helps with the race issue.

Joey

@missupright YES!

Oh, squiggles

This is an interesting thread. I've been asked plenty of times what my ethnicity is, and it always makes me feel awkward, because I'm not certain what answer they are wanting to hear... I mean, I guess they are asking because they can't pinpoint it easily, but...huh. Maybe I should just respond with "what are you wanting to hear?" which might be a good way to point out how rude the question is?

I've never, ever considered asking someone this question. Soooo beyond the realm of polite conversation!

Joey

@Joey And oh, just one more thing: I remember a Miss Manners column that dealt with intrusive questions. Her suggestion was to look calmly at the person. Then ask, curiously, a bit coldly, "Why on EARTH would you ask me that?" Then the person starts explaining or stammering but you are already on your way AWAY from that person.

Miss Maszkerádi

@Joey Somewhere, somehow, the Dowager Countess just punched the air.

Faintly Macabre

@iceberg This probably isn't a helpful response, but relatedly, my mom had a friend before my sister and I were born who had a lot of trouble conceiving. I don't think she was partnered while trying--mostly using sperm donors. The mom has dark hair and olive skin, though I don't think she's latina. She finally decided to adopt a girl from South America (Colombia, I think). Right before she went to get her new daughter, she found out she was pregnant with twins. Her adopted daughter (my sister's childhood friend) looks just like her. The twins? Pale, blonde-haired, blue-eyed girls. Genes do weird things sometimes. No reason that Bergy Bit's looks couldn't be a genetic quirk.

Kem
Kem

@iceberg Being adopted myself, I've always gotten questions as to "what I am". I usually respond with "your guess is as good as mine" or just ask them what they think. That usually shuts them up.

EpWs

I am picturing all three wee Bergy Bits squeaking "Wow, what a personal question!" in unison in little Aussie accents and I want to DIE.

iceberg

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Hahaha, ahh you would have died on Sunday, they ALL held hands and then the one on the end held my hand!

Joey

@Miss Maszkerádi Right? "One never ceases to be amazed at the sheer...!" (Trying to make up a quote but failing.) Oh, Violet, so, so awesome...

rcmann

@Olivia2.0 Great suggestion about looking to traditional adoption agencies for help with this! My homestudy and parenting training (for traditional adoption) included a lengthy transracial adoption training that brought up several issues that I would've never considered on my own. One of the most important things to remember is that it's not just random folks in the grocery store who are going to see your kid as Latino. S/he will be susceptible to types of racism that you've never experienced and that's something you'll all need to figure out how to deal with. (But as for the general questions you get on the street, smiling and saying "I'm adopted" has always worked for me.)

Sea Ermine

@iceberg I'm a little late to this thread but wanted to answer because I'm Latina and don't look like the stereotypical Latina and so I get alllll kinds of rude questions whenever I tell people where I'm from or where my mom grew up. One thing that might help to know (or not) is that you shouldn't have to worry too much about explaining that you are of a different ethnic background to people because if you were all Latino you would be getting all the same rude questions.

Being Latino/Hispanic makes you part of a very very very large ethnic group that encompasses many countries and languages and cultures. And this ethnic group was built with a mix of Native South Americans, and white colonizers, and black slaves, and then later on Asian (ex. Japan to Brazil) and Arab immigration (ex. Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine to Colombia) as well as smaller waves of immigration from other areas. If you look at a picture of my family there are skin colors ranging from very light to so dark it's almost blue, and a variety of different facial features and hair textures and colors. So even if you and your husband were also Latino/a you would still get a lot of the questions you will now.

I know that doesn't sound helpful but I think it could be because you could just mention that your kids are Latino/a and Latinos are a large and diverse ethnic group and that's why not everyone in your family looks alike. And then people will just assume you and your husband are white and Latino and wont ask anything further.

One other thing, even if their skin is darker than yours you may have to deal with people telling them they aren't actually Latino or aren't Latino "enough". And that shit stings. I know that might sound weird now if most of the questions you get are why they have darker skin compared to you. But when they are older and aren't walking around next to you they could get the opposite questions. My facial features and body type take very much after my Colombian relatives, but since my skin is much lighter than what is considered stereotypical, people will tell me that I can't be from where I am. And it goes beyond skin color too. My boyfriend is Mexican, his whole family is Mexican, and his skin color is darker than mine, but every so often someone wont believe he is Mexican. And it's fairly obvious because is is attractive, well spoken, and well dressed and there are people who think that Mexican guys are either thugs or short fat gardeners named Pancho (not that there is anything with being a short fat gardener named Pancho). Basically if you don't look like the Latinos people see on tv (whether it's news reports about immigration, or tv shows that ask Latina actresses to dye their hair brown and pile on the bronzer so they look the way they are "supposed to") then they wont be good enough. And when people don't believe you are from where you are from, or that you are the race or ethnicity that you are, they will feel very free to make racist comments about you to your face. And when you tell them you are a member of that group they are talking about they either wont believe you or will say that it's ok because "you're different". Both of which suck to hear. Especially because if they do have darker skin they will be getting all of that on top of whatever racism they are subjected to by the people who do actually believe that they are actually Latino.

I don't mean for this to be all doom and gloom! But I just wanted to point out that not only will they deal with idiocy for having darker skin, they may also deal with idiocy for having skin that isn't dark enough, so it's good to have a snappy retort for all situations. Especially since this can come from anywhere, the last time someone said something stupid to me about my ethnicity? It was said to me by a pinner, at a pinup.

Finally, I think it's really awesome if you want to involve them in their heritage! But I think it would be great if there is any way you can find out what country their bio donor was from because not all Latinos/as come from the same culture, eat the same food, or even speak the same language. And even within a particular country there are HUGE regional variations, so if you are allowed to talk to the donor about it, it would be nice to find out more about specifically where she's from and what kind of traditions she grew up with and so on. And if that donor was born in the US it could be that she is fairly far removed from the culture of the country where her family is from, so that's a whole 'nother deal. Also, something that was super helpful for me, especially after going to high school in Asia where I was one of 3 Latinos in my grade, was to join some sort of Hispanic student group in college.

EpWs

@Sea Ermine I know I wasn't the one to ask the question, but thank you so much for this awesome and detailed response, and for sharing your experience! These are all good things to know and/or be reminded of.

iceberg

@Sea Ermine Thank you so much for this response! We did a closed adoption so we're not likely to get any more info, but what you've said is very helpful and something I've half-considered but I know I'll have to give it more thought as they get older.

Sea Ermine

@Sea Ermine Ahhhh that was so long I'm so sorry!

ETA: I'm glad it was helpful! Even if you don't get more info I'm sure there are some transracial adoption groups that will have good info on dealing with this. Also, I know I mentioned joining a Latino student group in college but if you can find one for high school or elementary schoolers that's great too. The nice thing is that they generally include people who's parents are from two different countries (both Latino), people who only have one parent who is Latino/a, people who have been in the US for many many generations and don't have any connection to the country their family was originally from, people who just arrived in the US a year before, etc. It's nice because the diversity of those kinds of groups means that even if they don't know exactly where they are from they can still be accepted and find commonality with some people.

Luckier

@MilesofMountains That is exactly my family - my four tan sisters all take after native grandad (dad's), while I got the ginger freckled bit from grandma and my mom's Irish family. I call myself the "stealth NDN."

adorable-eggplant

@Sea Ermine Such great advice!! I heartily second all of it, especially looking into student groups preferably in elementary (do those exist? Maybe an after-school club?) because that's about when people start to notice that kind of difference and begin asking questions, usually in the friendly childish, I'm just plain curious way, but still it comes up. By the time college rolls around it can feel tricky to navigate the do I/don't I belong divide.

thebestjasmine

@Sea Ermine This is such an awesome response!!

D.@twitter

@Emmanuelle Cunt Isn't it weird what people will ask questions/comment about? When I was little, people used to comment on my "flat face." In college, a coworker, a propos of nothing, asked, "You're not just a white girl, are you?"
I was like, "Ummmmm, yes?"
Bottomline: I think you should err on the side of discouraging people from asking these sorts of questions. I am often struck by how adorable/attractive mixed race children are, but I KEEP IT TO MYSELF b/c I have read enough to realize that what I think of as a friendly inquiry/compliment, they see as an uncomfortably intrusive probe.

TheclaAndTheSeals

This was easily the most interesting thing I've read on the internet this week. (Maybe ever.)

dj pomegranate

This is amazing. I didn't know anything about embryo adoption! Science is awesome, guys.

SarahDances

@dj pomegranate I only knew about it because it showed up on an episode of CSI. So cool to hear from someone who's done it! Thanks a million, iceberg!

packedsuitcase

Ah, I had no idea you could do this! What a neat thing.

Also, I will now be picturing babies as those sheets of cookie dough circles that you buy a sheet of and then just transfer to a cookie sheet. Because that's totally how this worked, I'm sure. No stress or worry or nausea AT ALL.

TheBelleWitch

The Limpets! You all are awesome.

honey cowl

Love the bergy bits!!!! Why are they crying now, please tell us.

iceberg

@honey cowl this morning it was because we ran out of purple yoghurt, but that does seem fair.

thebestjasmine

This was fascinating, I had no idea that this even existed! Iceberg, thanks so much for sharing such a personal story, and yay for your delightful three babies.

hallelujah

THIS. IS. SO. COOL. Bergy Bit Beginnings!

Miss Maszkerádi

I think the Bergy Bits are turning into the Hairpin mascots. <3

katiemcgillicuddy

@Miss Maszkerádi WE EAT YOUR FOOD. Greatest motto ever.

the upstairs girl who frowns at the piano

loved this! Thanks for sharing, it was such a fascinating read. Yay science and yay bergy bits!

Dancercise

@the upstairs girl who frowns at the piano
Science is the best! (Also this article!)

Scandyhoovian

I had no idea you could adopt embryos! This is so neat! Also, "The Limpets" may be my favorite little nickname ever. LOVE IT!

Also, I quite like your writing style, please write more things for us to read. This was lovely!!

iceberg

@Scandyhoovian Thanks darl!

sceps yarx

@Scandyhoovian Yes, more please! Either about Bergy Bits or about something else. Either! Both! Yay!

Probs

You nicknamed them limpets, amazing.

laurel

@Probs AJSDjfskdfjaslkdflove. When my dog is clingy and snuggly I call her The LimPet. Dogs /= babies, I know, but still. It's a favorite term of endearment.

Judith Slutler

Dang this is interesting stuff!

Lily Rowan

"Twins would be great! Triplets might be a little much, haha." The doctor chuckled with us. Haha.

Haha.

This is so great -- thanks for writing it!

iceberg

thanks y'all! once again I am feeling the love of the Pin. <3 u allllll!

Quinn A@twitter

@iceberg You should! This was really interesting and well-written.

blueblazes

@iceberg This story has everything! Science, religion, cute little babies, road trips... add a puppy and you've written the Great American Novel.

Oh, squiggles

@iceberg Thank you for sharing!

Tuna Surprise

Yay!! More Iceberg and Bergy Bits! Love it so much.
Can I ask how old you were when you did the transfer?

iceberg

@Tuna Surprise Oh god you could if I remembered. Um I think I was 30?

ETA: having triplets melts your brain twice as fast*. I forget how old I am embarrassingly often.

ETA,ETA: THREE TIMES AS FAST.

Daisy Razor

This is amazing. Also, iceberg, I think you've made me a better person because after reading about the Bergy Bits, I have been offering to "borrow" my neighbor's twins more often.

I have a quiet giggle whenever anyone marvels over how they look just like you/your husband.

When a former boss of mine and her wife had a baby, one of my coworkers was like, "Oh, she has your eyes and Sue's nose!" It took her a minute to remember that was biologically impossible!

iceberg

@Daisy Razor I bet she LOVES you.

thebestjasmine

@Daisy Razor Two of my closest friends are a gay male couple who have a baby boy, and I CONSTANTLY forget that he's not the biological descendant of both of them.

Daisy Razor

@iceberg She also has an infant, and I like to go over and just hold the baby, for purely selfish reasons (baaaaaaaby), but apparently this is also a help! It's win-win.

missupright

@thebestjasmine @iceberg @Daisy Razor I honestly think that a lot of it's to do with mannerisms, and facial expressions: my next sister and my (step) dad are so so so alike that strangers point it out, and they are not at all biologically related. It's brilliant and I love it, being a person who thinks that families are (as I wrote above, meh) what you make them.

WWEKSD?

@missupright @thebestjasmine @iceberg @Daisy Razor
Yes, I agree! I have a friend who was adopted and she and her (adoptive) mum are strikingly similar. Her boyfriend points and shouts "NUTURE!"

laurel

There's something about adoption (at any stage of development) that's so beautifully efficient and full of purpose.

noodge

This is so awesome! to have gone through this procedure, been soooo successful, and be so human and warm through it all - it's amazing.

At some point, maybe we can show a story with someone who went through fertility challenges and wasn't successful, but found ways to be happy anyway? I think that's the hardest thing for people who have had struggles with fertility, and I feel like it would be so eye opening.

iceberg

@noodge thank you! great article idea!

blueblazes

@noodge A workfriend of mine went through this for YEARS. They tried everything, and I mean EVERYTHING medically possible. and it was just so sad to see how it was wearing her down and making her question herself as a woman. Then she took a leave of absence and disappeared off facebook and I worried.

This week she reappeared with the most beautiful, smiley, chubby little Chinese toddler you can imagine. Happy ending to horrible ordeal!

janejanejane

@noodge I was unsuccessful in my journey through fertility treatment, ending with IVF. I grieved deeply for the first year. Part of me will always grieve but I chose to not make it the central issue of my life. I deliberately chose to move forward and make my life about other things. My need to nurture is addressed by teaching adult education. Working with other people's children would have been too hard and I knew my limits.
An unfulfilled desire to have children can be heartbreaking and feel like the end of the world but it isn't the end of the world. Just a different world from what was hoped for. As with anything else that qualifies as a personal tragedy, it is possible to move through it and beyond it if one can find the resolve to do so.
Thanks to Iceburg for sharing this. It always lifts my heart to hear the success stories.

iceberg

@janejanejane Thank YOU for sharing. I know that pain and I know I'm very lucky.

artychoke

@janejanejane Thanks for sharing that. I'm about to embark on the last IVF we can afford and I'm terrified it won't work and we'll have to face the grieving process. Your perspective is very helpful.

janejanejane

@artychoke. I am glad you found it helpful. If you don't mind I will hold you in my thoughts and will pray for the best possible result. Whichever way it turns out, please believe there is a life ahead of you that could be wonderful.

karenb

i had a friend in high school who was adopted as a baby, as well as her younger sister. they weren't genetically related to each other or their parents, but the whole family looked uncannily alike. so that's sort of backwards, but genetics! who knows! total crapshoot!

Bittersweet

@karenb My husband and his brother don't look much at all alike, but my husband and his adopted sister look much more related. Life (and genetics) is funny!

pajamaralls

ahah. This is interesting/touching/funny.

I'll admit, I got distracted at the beginning when you talked about bread. But I'm hungry.

Also, the image of you being proud of your bikini area and then doctors laughing + pouring alcohol on you.

iceberg

@pajamaralls that stuff stings like a motherfucker, no joke.

pajamaralls

@iceberg I can only imagine.

anachronistique

FASCINATING. And also awesome! <3

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

Science! Love! Religion! Babies!

(I wanted to just write "Science!" but then I realized there was waaaay more to this essay.)

EpWs

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose Gwen Stefani's next fashion line?

maebytonight

What a coincidence, I was telling my co-workers today about the interview with you, @iceberg, and lo and behold, this piece! Very funny and educational to boot, aren't those bergy bits lucky to have you as their mother!

makingtrouble

sorry to be weird or whatever, but you didn't want sperm donation because of unrelated genetic material? and then you went for embryo adoption, with unrelated genetic material? am i missing something here?

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@makingtrouble I read it as either all or nothing, genetic-relation wise, meaning they didn't want babies just related to one of them, they'd rather have babies not genetically related at all. But I'm not sure.

iceberg

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose Right! ugh I tried to reply but it keeps eating my comment. We are equally (un)related to them genetically.

makingtrouble

@iceberg oh okay. sorry i was confused there.

iceberg

@makingtrouble Not at all! We both have families that involve complicated blending and a lot of non-biologically related family, so not being biologially related to them at all is totally fine by us, and I'm just not that attached to my genes, I guess?

City_Dater

This is terrifically written and incredibly INTERESTING!

Thank you for sharing your triplets with all of us, sort of... :)

br1gid

Is this week designed to make me happy? Science+Babies on Hairpin AND Radiolab?!

dtowngirl

I loved reading this. Thanks for sharing!

sunflowernut

This was the best. And congrats on the triplets! Even though it was a while ago.

EpWs

@sunflowernut I feel like repeated, constant congratulations for triplets are in order. For having them, for birthing them, for continuing to allow them to live in the house.

iceberg

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher Yeah where's my medal? ;)

iceberg

Oh and here is the first article about the Bergy Bits, in case you missed it :)
http://thehairpin.com/2013/02/an-interview-with-a-mom-of-triplets/

Angry Panda

@iceberg Both of your articles were great. I had no idea embryo adoptions were a thing, though, this is so cool.
Also, I don't comment on them much, but I love reading your Bergy Bits updates. :-)

iceberg

@Angry Panda Thank you!!!

laurel

How The Limpets Won the Lottery.

iceberg

@laurel Oh my god I wishhhhhh then they could go to college hahaha!

iceberg

@iceberg Unless you meant they won the lottery of getting shoved into a uterus that is clearly the fucking best place to grow babies in.

laurel

@iceberg Yeah, I was thinking of the latter, that they got you as their oven and their mom.

But a little lottery college fund couldn't hurt. I wish y'all that as well.

hedgehogerie

I'm quite confident I just watched an (old) episode of Law & Order SVU about this very same thing. Except they stole the embryos.

katiemcgillicuddy

Iceberrrrrrg! This was fantastic (I have nothing else to offer but felt a need to reiterate that because, yes)

iceberg

@katiemcgillicuddy Thanks!

Bittersweet

Icebergie! Sorry I'm late to this party - work craziness this afternoon - but just wanted to say that I love this so much. Thanks for sharing the embryo adoption story - and the Bits - with us.

iceberg

@Bittersweet Of course! Guys they have just started saying "I love you" - when they say "Ah voo Mama!" IT'S ALL WORTH IT!!!

EpWs

@iceberg WE VOO TOO BERGY BITS

Frankie's Girl

sigh.

I'd have been thrilled with triplets, or twins or even a singleton. I've done 2 IVFs and not even a false positive. The doc is actually pretty puzzled with why it didn't work the second time, since on paper (stats, testing, response) everything was picture perfect until the embryos basically started tanking right before transfer. So just a reminder to all out there - IVF isn't a guaranteed take home baby either. I've got one more shot this fall, and then we're done and probably going to be dealing with the bitter/sad for many years to come.

I did like reading this, and was very happy for the outcome.

Embryo adoption was discussed during our IVF process, and in the mounds of paperwork you are filling out in preparation for the IVF procedure, they ask if you and your spouse want to dispose of, donate for in-house testing or put up for adoption any remaining embryos after completing your cycles. You have to decide between the two of you and initial and there's even who gets custody of the frozen embryos in the event of death or divorce! All of that threw me for a loop as it was such a heavy decision to make for something that may or may not even come to fruition.

As far as the coloring of the triplets being different than yours... I'd definitely not focus on that or make a big deal of it if anyone asks. If someone mentions it, laugh and say sure they might have different coloring, but that runs in the family. If the children ask, I'd tell them the same thing. The more you get into it, the weirder it could get and frankly, it's no one's business and rude to even suggest that they aren't YOUR kids.

BUT I would tell the kids when they were older, say late teens, about the fact that you had difficulties conceiving. Whether you tell them the full extent (that they are not genetically related to you and why) is totally your call, but I think they should be forewarned that while getting pregnant is in general supposed to be easy to do and they should take precautions until they are ready to be parents, they need to be aware that fertility issues may be in their future and to not wait too long before getting help if and when they decide to start a family. The fact that the donating couple had to go to IVF means they also had some specific difficulty, and letting your children know that there was some issues (again, I don't think you should or shouldn't tell of the embryo adoption) might save them much time and heartache when they start TTC.

For what it's worth, I always planned on telling any child I'd had in their teen years about the conception difficulties so they were forewarned, but I would never share my fertility issues with anyone else - still haven't, and probably never will. (except in the internets where you can be anonymous)

iceberg

@Frankie's Girl Thank you for your perspective, I'm sorry IVF did not work out for you :(
Yeah I hadn't considered the angle of "we had trouble but you might not so be careful" - thanks for that!

rcmann

@Frankie's Girl As an adoptee, I'd strongly suggest AGAINST waiting until kids are teenagers to tell them they're not genetically related to you. Waiting until you "have" to tell them sends the message that there's something wrong or shameful about adoption when that's not true at all.

iceberg

@rcmann yeah I wasn't really going to go into it but our plan so far is to just have it be a truth - there's not gonna be a "sit down we have something to tell you" - you know - you have brown hair, you have two legs, you are from an adopted embryo.

ETA - I think she was saying the adoption part depends, but tell them about the fertility problems later. but it's so tied together - age appropriate to me is "mama and daddy couldn't make our own babies, so..." etc.

taco-salad dot com

@Frankie's Girl For what it's worth, I was conceived through IVF, and apparently I didn't take until the 3rd and final round. My parents were feeling pretty resigned up until that point, too. Don't give up hope. Best of luck to you, whatever happens!

itiresias

@iceberg I was adopted as well, and I was told from a very early age. My mom just simplified things - the way she tells it, "I knew some of my friends would tell their kids fairy tales with the kid as the center of it, so I would tell you something like 'once upon a time there was a queen in a castle, and princess was coming, but they couldn't keep her to live at the castle, and that was you and you came here!'" Odd as that sounds looking back on it, this made the process normal for me.

As I got older, I learned more about my parents' lives pre-kid in general, and that happened naturally as well. I remember driving with my mom at age 15 or so, complaining about periods, and she mentioned that she'd adopted me because she'd had multiple ectopic pregnancies and it was a really stressful time for her. Or, randomly talking about relationships, and her mentioning that her and my dad had talked about kids before they got married, and both wanted to have one and adopt one, so when they found out the first wasn't an option, it wasn't a big deal and that was cool.

The one weird thing she ever did about it was that when I was 19, and came home from freshman year of college, she awkwardly approached me one day and was like "Do you ever want to know more details about your birth mother? Because I have some." and I was like...."What?...Okay?" And then she went in the house and came back out with a photo and a letter and a hand-written questionnaire about medical records and background and stuff. I'd asked things in the past, and my mom always gave vague answers, and this gave me a little more detail, though not too much. I'd also never seen a picture. I also learned the (kind of unusual) circumstances about how they found my birthmother, who was actually a friend-of-a friend-of a relative-of a friend kind of thing. My mom was visibly unstable about it and I could tell she'd been freaking out over the right way to tell me this stuff for a long time. And honestly, it was kind of jarring to see this picture (an 80's glamor shot, no less, where she is holding a stuffed animal, what the fuck) of this person who actually looks like me, and to read that she was my height and had my same seasonal allergies and had a high IQ but dropped out of high school to work because of an inability to focus and balance work and school, something I completely relate to - and to know these things had been sitting in my mom's dresser for 19 years and she, a person with super high anxiety, had been obsessing over them throughout the years.

Long, long story (sorry) short - tell your kids everything from the beginning, but don't go into too much detail. That will come naturally as they age, and your relationship with them ages. Any large amount of new information is going to come as a shock, but if they know you love them, it will be okay.

Finally, a note on my personal experience concerning physical differences - my adopted parents and I are all white, so it's not THAT striking, but I'm Irish and pale while my mom is fully Italian, and it's a HUGE part of her/her family's culture. So I grew up in that, and I'll talk about it whenever it comes up, because an Italian family lends to a lot of stories and eccentricities and stuff. I always say "my family is Italian, so...." and that usually satisfies people enough not to ask more questions.

iceberg

@itiresias thanks for this! It's good to hear from someone close to the BBs perspective on the issue.

MrsTeacherFace

@Frankie's Girl @iceberg My husband and I are going to start trying to conceive in June, and I'm terrified that there will be some kind of fertility problem with one of us. I didn't know about embryo adoption, so for some reason this article made my thus-far-unfounded fertility panic lessen somewhat, to know that there is a moderately affordable option out there if our bits and pieces don't work the way we had hoped they would.

Also, I need to stop inventing problems before they are actual problems, so I will shut up now, but I really enjoyed your article!

thisexactly

This was such an awesome piece! I had absolutely no idea that you could adopt embryos, and think that's super cool (though I don't love the "straight and married" only business, yikes). And I really appreciate that even though it's clear that three at once is A LOT, you also talk so much in the comments about how darned adorable they are. They sound very very loved.

iceberg

@thisexactly thank you!!! Yeah I feel like this would be so perfect if they could let gay couples do it!

EpWs

Aahhhh, I thought of a question a day late! Posting anyway. I think I may suspect the answer to this already, but after the Bergy Bits, did you ever think about having or trying for more? (HAH)

iceberg

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher short answer heeeeeell no, long answer do you have an email address you can post here? haha

EpWs

@iceberg Hahhaha, figured as much. And you can always email me at wordsnatcher DOT everpresent AT geemails!

PS Why are the Bergy Bits crying today?

iceberg

@The Everpresent Wordsnatcher eee i sent you an email!

commanderbanana

I once got asked if I was adopted at a work function whilst standing next to my dad (although I will point out that I look nothing like him, being a clone of my mother).

Obviously there is nothing at all wrong or shameful in adoption or the various ways in which families are created, but I will say that I don't think most people who would ask are the type of people you'd want to be talking to anyway, since it's a pretty big indicator of Boundaries, I Don't Have Them. Also sometimes you just want to get to the danged post office or whatever and you don't feel like having to hash it out with someone, no matter how well-intentioned they may be.

iceberg

OH MY GOD MY CHILDREN WERE FROZEN AND NOW THEY ARE BERGY BITS OFF AN ICEBERG how did i not realize this before.

ChloeCatastrophe

HIII and congrats on the Bergy Bits!

As someone interested in fertility medicine and on her way to becoming a fertility doc right now, I wanted to post a few things in response to your story.

1. It's true that a lot of private centers have a bit of a religious side to their language, but there are also a ton of 100% secular approaches to donating and receiving embryos- mostly through larger institutions that have the resources to integrate the whole process (The place where I work runs their own program that doesn't use any religious language at all in their materials, but I don't know if they have the same conservative restrictions on who can be a recipient). Also, some couples approach this option not through a protecting-life angle, but more of a damn-IVF-was-hard-we-should-help-other-people-going-through-the-same-thing side.

2. I'm so glad you mentioned being advised to shtup the night before your transfer! It's kind of crazy, but there are actually a lot of immunological benefits to exposing your ladybits to semen (from any man, but even more effectively from the genetic father of the embryos) right before conception. Researchers think it could do everything from neutralizing the pH of the vagina, to causing an inflammation reaction in the uterine wall that facilitates embryo implantation, to even blocking a memory-based immune response that would basically attack all of that foreign material that you want to get settled in your uterus. This improves live birth rates annndddd could even lower a woman's risk for things like preeclampsia and miscarriages. Whoa!

3. Also about embryo donation/IVF guidelines- goodness gracious if anyone ever transfers more than three! Most sensible doctors would never put a woman through that- Octomom's doc lost his license for a reason!

Thanks again for sharing!

iceberg

@ChloeCatastrophe Thanks! These are great additions - I'm glad there are places that are more secular because those aspects of my experience made me really uncomfortable.

MariaInCola

Thanks for this blog. I was a bit put off by the "Bake-at-Home-Babies" at first. Then as I read the article I laughed a little and thought that this sounds just like something I would write if I had gone thru this. My hubs and I are deciding if egg donation or embryo donation is what we should do. Or if we should adopt a child. Or just be the cool/eccentric aunt & uncle.
Cheers to you and your family!

Jaxeygirly

@iceberg- if you are still reading comments, could you please provide the name of the embryo adoption center that you utilized? I am looking into this option currently and have not come across any agencies that are not religiously affiliated... And the religion piece doesn't really jive with my husband and I. Your response would be GREATLY appreciated.
Congratulations on your beautiful family!

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