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Bothell church begins embryo adoption service

BOTHELL, Wash. -- Maria Lancaster's 5-year-old daughter likes to wear her pink cowboy boots and hopes to become a rainbow fairy when she grows up. For Maria, the little one is nothing short of miraculous.

"I do believe it was a miracle. I was 47 when I had her," she said.

Maria and her husband underwent fertility treatments, and endured three miscarriages and numerous rejections when they tried to adopt.

In the end, the Lancasters were left with more faith than options. So they decided to take a drastic shape.

"I was the first one in Washington state to do this," said Maria. "It was a pivotal moment in my life."

Embryos frozen for four years were rushed over from a freezer in North Carolina to Maria's doctor's office in Bellevue. The fertilized eggs were thawed, then implanted in Maria's uterus.

Nine months later, Maria gave birth.

"When I looked in her eyes for the first time, it was the most amazing experience," she said.

Now Maria is trying to match other embryos with adoptive parents. She took the idea to Cedar Park Church in Bothell.

The Embryo Adoption Services of Cedar Park, or AdoptAnEmbryo.net, is one of a handful of embryo adoption services in the country.

At Seattle Reproductive Medicine, there are about 3,000 embryos on ice. Families with leftover embryos weigh their options.

"I think people do struggle with that decision," said Dr. Angela Thyer with the clinic. "A lot of people just continue to store them and defer making that decision."

According to a study conducted five years ago, 400,000 embryos have been frozen and stored since then 1970s. About 11,000 of them have been donated to research. Some 9,000 others were donated to other families, and about the same number of embryos were thrown away.

Maria knows her daughter has another sibling out there -- a little brother with her daughter's DNA. The families may arrange a meeting some day.

"Embryo adoption is a calling for me. Its what I was called to do," she said.

The Embryo Adoption Services of Cedar Park claims to be the only ministry-based adoption service in the country. It opened for business just six days ago, but it has already begun receiving applications from families who both want to donate and adopt frozen embryos.

Seattle Weekly is a media partner of KOMO News.
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