Ever since we first dreamed together of what our family might look like, we had adoption in our minds as an integral part of that dream. We had just expected to have biological children first. When we discovered that it was not likely for us to have genetic children, adoption was an obvious next step. We have several friends and some family members who have adopted, and as we learned more and more about embryo adoption, it became clear that this was the right path for us.
What Brought You Together?
The two of us met in our 30s after significant life experience, spending the past three decades in multiple cities and professions. Initially, we were set up on a blind date through mutual friends, and we hit it off from the start. We dated for only a year and a half, got engaged, and were married 6 months later in fall 2016.
Being relatively older when we married, we had plenty of time to watch significant difficulties develop in many of our friends’ and families’ marriages, so we fully expected marriage to be something we had to work hard for.
While there are certainly aspects of marriage that are difficult, we have been wonderfully surprised at how much we have enjoyed being married so far. We just really like each other, respect each other, and work well together. We believe that a marriage is a beautiful act of creation and cultivation in a broken world.
In the words of one of our favorite songwriters, Sara Groves, we see a marriage as a “protest of the darkness and the chaos all around.” We actively work to cultivate a household of affection, grace, and love—and we dream of extending that household to our eventual children!
We have been attempting (unsuccessfully) to conceive biological children for over two years. We are both healthy, but according to our test results, Tarah’s egg count makes a natural conception highly improbable. Coming to grips with this fact has been a bit of a grieving process. We’ve both desired to be parents since we were children ourselves, and now we are ready to begin the process.
After researching multiple paths toward growing our family, we have chosen embryo adoption as the next phase of our family’s story. We make this choice in context of already having several friends and family members who have chosen adoption in their families. We see beauty in the opportunity to offer embryos a chance at life—these microscopic humans who are waiting patiently for their lives to begin. Furthermore, we cherish the ability to add a ‘coda’ to the story of another couple who has also experienced infertility and has completed their family through in vitro fertilization with embryos still frozen.
Tarah is especially grateful for the possibility to experience pregnancy so that she can nurture and protect a baby even before the child is born. We look forward to the mundane particulars of life that we’ll be able to share as a family: sitting down at the table for meals, singing songs around a campfire, teaching our children how to play basketball or guitar, watching their faith and questions about life develop, celebrating holidays with grandparents and cousins…and so much more.
Curious about embryo adoption? Click here for more information about this amazing process!
Tarah was born in Arkansas where she was raised through high school. After completing the Disney college program in Florida, she worked full time as a character at Disney World prior to finishing her first bachelor’s degree in sign language interpreting. Possessing a wandering spirit, she has spent time working all over the country including Yellowstone National Park, Cape Cod, Vermont, Kansas City, and Colorado.
As she found her faith deepening in her 20s, she pursued biblical studies and spent several years earning a Bible degree. During this period, she spent time volunteering in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake where she was inspired to pursue a career as a nurse. She has spent the past 7 years working as a nurse in the ICU, in hospice, and now as an oncology nurse.
Tarah values strong relationships and spends intentional time strengthening friendships. She loves a good cup of coffee and quality time with those she loves. She highly values self-awareness and achieving personal goals, and she is intentional in living out these values.
Since a young age, Scott has highly valued education and the life of the mind. He enjoys music, moral philosophy, understanding how things work, and any good story (movie, book, etc). He’s also up for a game of pick-up basketball whenever the opportunity arises.
He spent his early to high school years in Missouri, where he played in garage bands, played on a basketball team, and earned an Associate of Arts degree. Music has always been an important part of Scott’s life, having been born into a family of musicians and playing several instruments himself (You can still find his college-years band, Quality Vinyl, on Spotify).
After studying psychology at Wheaton College in Illinois, Scott primarily worked as a music teacher and videographer for the following decade. After being exposed to the healthcare world due to the tragic loss of his father to cancer, Scott was inspired to pursue nursing as a career and completed an accelerated BSN program. He has been an emergency nurse now for about 6 years, but his true passion is in teaching, which is why he will soon finish his master’s degree in nursing and currently teaches nursing as a clinical instructor at UCCS.
James is here!!
We’re a little behind in announcing James’ arrival but he’s here! Tarah’s pregnancy went pretty smoothly, but she ended up getting pre-eclampsia towards the end. Our OB recommended an induction a couple of weeks early. James was born via C-section after a 50-hour induction. He was such a big baby for being early and weighed 9lbs 5oz! He is now over 2 months old and absolutely perfect! James has the sweetest temperament, sleeps really well and is quite easy to console.
As we look back over the last couple years, it’s hard for us to believe this process really worked! We have been so blessed to welcome James home and into our family. James was the 936th baby to be born in the Nightlight Snowflake program. Now that we are on this side and James is here with us – there aren’t words to begin to describe how thankful we are for the process of embryo adoption and the gift from our placing family. We are so grateful that they chose to offer life to James. He is so precious. I (Tarah) was just grocery shopping with James the other day and was suddenly struck by how much I love him. It’s almost painful and yet wonderful.
The journey to get here was long and hard. There was so much discouragement. At different times we stopped to consider if it was going to be worth it. But now, we can say that he IS worth it! We are hopeful to repeat this process with a remaining embryo and allow James to become a big brother! We’ll post again sometime in 2023 when we’re trying again!
Hello! Just wanted to update everyone. Tarah is now 16 and a half weeks pregnant! Each ultrasound has shown baby is moving around and healthy. We also found out that we’re having a boy!!! His name is James Scott Browne IV and we’ll call him James. We’re excited that everything is going well. Since Tarah has moved into the 2nd trimester, she’s feeling less nauseated and less exhausted. We’re researching all the baby things we need to buy and looking forward to setting up the nursery. The next few months will fly by and baby James will be here before we know it!! Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers. We’re beyond grateful for this baby!
Hello! We have great news! One embryo was transferred to Tarah early November. It was successful, and she is pregnant! The 2 week wait between the transfer and the first pregnancy test was really hard and emotional. But sure enough, pregnancy was confirmed by 2 blood HCG tests. Since then, we’ve also had ultrasounds at 6 weeks and 8 weeks, and everything looks perfect – right on track. We were able to hear (and see!) the heartbeat and could even make out little arms and legs. Today, Tarah is 9 weeks pregnant and has been released from our Denver fertility specialist to our local OB. She is feeling some of the normal 1st trimester symptoms, but overall is doing really well. This process requires taking both hormone shots and pills. Scott has jumped in to give the daily (early morning) shots in Tarah’s gluteal muscles (in her butt 😳), and we have completed 50 out of the 56 shots! (Last one will be Christmas Day – talk about an Advent countdown).
We are so thankful and excited to be able to welcome a new baby expected July 23rd!! We’ve been looking forward to sharing our news with you. Thank you all for your support and prayers throughout this crazy year of waiting and hoping!
We have finally scheduled our embryo transfer! There have been many unexpected delays and we are so excited to finally reach this stage. Once again, this is such a weird process – tests, medications, hormones, injections, ultrasounds – all unto lying in a sterile room and “getting pregnant.” Following the transfer will be two of the longest weeks of our lives as we await the results. We do have multiple embryos, so we will be able to attempt another transfer if this one doesn’t result in pregnancy. However, this transfer and each one after will cost around $5000, so the pressure is definitely on. We’re so thankful for all the texts, calls, thoughts, prayers and support from our friends and family. Thank you for journeying with us! We’ll keep you updated.
We have Embryos!
Our embryos have arrived at our clinic! Such a weird process – apparently they are shipped through the mail – FedEx or something like that. We are hopeful that the embryo transfer can happen before the end of this year! It’s difficult to know how to hold our hearts as we approach this stage. It is both exciting and nerve-wracking. While we are hopeful this will work, we also know this process does not guarantee pregnancy and birth. All the time, effort, money, emotion, and prayer that has gone into this process will soon culminate with a simple pregnancy test. We are continually reminded that we are not in control. We will keep you all updated!
We wanted to write another update since it’s been a while. The contract phase of this process took longer than we expected. Now that the contracts have been written and signed by both families, we can move forward with shipping the embryos. Our agency will coordinate the details of the shipping of the embryos from their current storage location to our fertility clinic. Our agency contact has indicated this stage will likely still take a month or two. Once the embryos arrive at our clinic, we can work towards scheduling the frozen embryo transfer (FET). We’re so close to being able to actually (hopefully) achieve pregnancy! It has felt like such a long 12 months of working towards this goal, but the end is in sight!
WE HAVE A MATCH!
We are excited to announce that we have been matched with a placing family! We are so thankful to this family for sharing a piece of their unique journey with us and giving us the honor of being parents to their genetic offspring. Our fertility clinic has officially approved the embryos, so we are now ready to move on to the next step, the contract phase. During this phase, we will sign contracts with the placing family, and then the embryos will be shipped to our chosen fertility clinic. Once they arrive, we can move forward with our clinic to schedule a frozen embryo transfer (FET).
This whole process has taken longer than we expected, and it has been hard to have patience. On a personal note, I (Tarah) feel I have been reminded of an important lesson: I am not in control. As much as I hope to have control over which embryos we receive, what our children will be like, the timing of our growing family…I am not in control. There is a facade of control as we look over the family profiles and embryo information and get to make a choice. There is a facade of control as we look forward to setting a date for the transfer. But actually, I did not choose this path of infertility. Every step toward embryo adoption has taken weeks or months longer than I’d hoped. When a step takes a long time, I am tempted to “storm the castle gates” and yell at the agency or clinic or whoever to “make this happen now!” However, in those instances, I hear a still, small voice saying, “you are not in control.” I’m doing my best to trust God in this process and hold my hopes with an open hand. It’s a lesson I know I’ll need to continue for the rest of my life. I don’t get to be in control once I’m finally pregnant or once our baby is born. I am not in control and that’s actually a relief. The One who is in control loves me, is for me, and will weave a beautiful story full of grace and mercy.
We are so excited to make it to this part of the journey and are thankful for everyone who has written, called, and given financially! The $6,770 already donated through this site has essentially allowed us to break even with expenses up to this point. We currently have a $4,000 payment due to our agency for administrative/legal fees associated with the contract/shipping phase. There is still much work and uncertainty ahead, but it feels like we are approaching the home stretch towards achieving pregnancy. We feel really good about where we are in the process.
In order to receive embryos to adopt, we must first be matched to a donor family (called the “placing” family). During the first step of the matching process at Nightlight, both the placing family and the adopting family report preferences regarding the adoption. The placing family’s preferences, for instance, might be related to the education, income, religion, race, or age of the adopting family. Similarly, the adopting family can identify preferences regarding the number and quality of the embryos and the health history of the genetic parents. Each family also specifies how open they are willing to be regarding future contact between the child and the placing family. Once these preferences are specified, a matching coordinator at Nightlight looks through tons of profiles from placing and adopting families, and then chooses a match. Once a potential match is determined for us (the adopting family), the coordinator will give our profile to a placing family and allow them the opportunity to say yes/no. If the placing family says yes, we will be given their profile and the opportunity to say yes/no to them. Once we both say yes, information about the embryos are sent to our fertility clinic, and the doctor weighs in regarding the embryos. After all of these steps are complete, we enter into the contract phase of the process.
Similarly to traditional adoption, there are several options regarding communication with the placing family once their genetic child becomes part of our family. After much thought, conversation, education, and prayer, we have decided that we will have an open adoption. From the day we bring our children home from the hospital, we will be completely open and honest with them regarding their origins and unique story. At first, communication with the genetic parents (and genetic siblings) will likely be mediated through Nightlight using letters, emails and photos. Once our children are older, we will encourage their input and desires regarding communication and contact.
What is Embryo Adoption?
You might be asking – what is embryo adoption anyway?
Many families over the last 40 years have used in vitro fertilization (IVF) to conceive children. With IVF, a doctor retrieves eggs from a woman and then combines them with sperm to create an embryo. Frequently, more embryos are created than are needed for the family to reach the number of children they want. The remaining embryos are frozen and stored by the family, and each family has to decide what to do with their remaining embryos. Some of these options include continuing to pay for storage, destroying the embryos, donating them to science, donating them to an anonymous embryo bank, or offering them to a specific family. We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to be a solution for a few of these embryos in limbo waiting for a chance at life.
The process on our end involves receiving an IVF family’s remaining embryos and then implanting one into Tarah’s uterus. Although the baby will have the genetics of the placing family, Tarah will carry and deliver the baby. In this way, it’s similar to the process of surrogacy, but unlike surrogacy, the child will continue as part of the Browne family after birth. Since we will receive more than one embryo, it is possible to have multiple children who are genetic siblings to each other, though not genetically related to the two of us.
Thank you so much to everyone who has responded to our news! We are overwhelmed by the generosity and support in just the first week since our initial announcement. Today, we want to lay out a little info about our adoption agency and the application phase we just completed.
As we faced continuing infertility over the last couple years, we spent several months researching, discussing, and praying about how to grow our family. There are so many options, but as the months passed by, we decided that embryo adoption was the best choice for us. We first reached out to our adoption agency, Nightlight Christian Adoptions, in March of this year. The agency has embryo adoption program called ‘Snowflakes’ which started in 1997, and since then, it has seen 770 babies born through the Snowflakes program. In March, we were still renting a small space and weren’t really set up to add a baby. So, in the midst of COVID restrictions, we bought a house in Colorado Springs in June! We really love our house and have plenty of room to grow. Once we moved in, we felt ready to jump into the full adoption application process.
I’m sure you’ve heard elsewhere, but adoption application paperwork is long and extensive!!! We completed application forms, fingerprinting and background checks, multiple references, employment verification, relationship testing, and extensive personal history. We provided financial statements, watched hours of educational webinars about embryo adoption, wrote and submitted reflections regarding the webinars, and completed an adoption profile to be given to prospective placing families. Our application was finally complete once we were interviewed by a social worker and completed a home study. Whew! It is an extremely thorough process! While it was a lot of work, it’s totally understandable that a placing family would want to be sure their embryos are going to a stable, safe home.
Now that that’s all done, we are so happy to have made it through the application phase and into the matching phase! What this means is that Nightlight is currently working on finding a match for us with a placing family. We’re just waiting on a notification that there’s a match, and then we can move through to the next phases of the adoption process.