Special Report: Embryo adoption helps Pewaukee couple become parents
PEWAUKEE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A typical night in the Schneider home is similar to a lot of families with small children. Dad, Chip, gets help with dinner from his 3-year-old son, Mason.
“You want the long, skinny noodles,” he asks, pulling out a box of spaghetti.
Meanwhile, in the living room, 6-year-old Callie reads to her mom, Lynda.
“I am a chameleon. I can change my color,” she says.
But this typical family didn’t start out that way. It’s estimated one in ten couples struggle with infertility in the United States. Many people turn to fertility treatments or adoption to start their families. Chip and Lynda Schneider turned to a little known option called embryo adoption.
“Whenever we open up and tell people, which we do a lot, because it’s no secret, they say, ‘oh, I never knew you could do that,’” Lynda said.
Their journey to parenthood started with a gift from a couple a thousand miles away from their home in Pewaukee. Mike and Melissa Eggleton live in Texas. They had three children, Brooke, Bailey and Brevin, through in vitro fertilization. But when they had grown their family, they still had more than a dozen embryos left.
“We knew there was no way we could destroy them,” Mike Eggleton said in a conversation over Facetime.
But that left the Eggleton's with few choices. They could keep the embryos frozen, donate them to science, or put them up for adoption. And that’s where the Schneiders came in.
“We started into it because I could be pregnant. I could nurse the baby. We would have the history,” Lynda explained.
Lynda Schneider carried the Eggleton's’ embryos and gave birth to Callie and Mason.
“It’s really special and it allowed us the opportunity to have a family,” Chip said.
The Schneiders say they also gained a new family in Texas. Callie and Mason love talking to their biological parents and siblings over Facetime. The families also visit each other every year, giving the kids the chance to know each other, and grow up together.
“It’s kind of neat to think our kids have these other siblings,” Lynda said. “It just expanded our whole family.”
The Eggleton's chose an open embryo adoption so they could know the kids.
“We wanted to know what they look like. Do they look like our kids? Where are they? We wanted them to know that we wanted them,” Melissa said.
Embryo adoption has been around for years, but the National Fertility Support Center estimates only 3,000 children have been born from adopted embryos. The U.S. government estimates there are more than 600,000 frozen embryos in the country.
Mike and Melissa Eggleton are happy to watch Callie and Mason grow up, knowing they helped turn a family of two into a family of four. And both sets of parents are glad they chose an open adoption.
“There's never been any question, it's just been really, really easy being honest from the get-go,” Melissa said.
Chip Schneider agrees.
“When people don’t know the story, they say, ‘oh, your kids look so much like you!’” he laughs. “That is true!”
Embryo adoptions can range in price, up to $15,000.
There are several agencies that facilitate embryo adoptions, including https://www.nightlight.org/snowflakes-embryo-adoption-donation/ and https://www.embryodonation.org/.