North Texas Couple Adopts Embryo

Pregnancy could produce couple's 12th and perhaps 13th child

A Sherman couple found out last week they're expecting child No. 12. But the real story is how the pregnancy happened.

Dara and Kevin Nelson are expecting what they describe as an "embryo baby." The Nelsons adopted the embryos after reading about a couple looking for a family to adopt a set of frozen embryos that had a high possibility of a fatal genetic illness.

"I came across an article about a family who was trying to find a home for their embryos and, at that time, I was, 'I want to know about this. I want to do this.'"

The embryos were frozen in 2004.

"Dara and her husband knew the risks, but they were at peace with the potential outcome," said Dr. Jerald Goldstein, the Dallas reproductive endocrinologist who transferred the two embryos last month. "I felt the decision was hers, and I agreed to do the procedure."

Goldstein said he's offered embryo adoption to couples for the past year, but the Nelsons are his first patients.

This is Dara Nelson's second time to be implanted with embryos that have no biological connection to her or her husband. Two embryos from the same set with the fatal genetic illness survived the first transfer, and she became pregnant with one baby. 

"I knew that whatever God chose would be best, whether or not it was the pregnancy we were hoping for," she said. 

Nine months later, Dara Nelson delivered a healthy baby girl they named Merianne. 

"Is she adopted? Well, yeah, in a way," her husband said. "But as parents, you forget, because you went to the hospital and delivered her."

Counting Merianne, the Nelsons have 11 children ages 22 to 15 months. Six are biological and four were adopted internationally. The couple wanted more children, and embryo adoption made it possible.

"That's one of the things we want people to know," Dara Nelson said. "There's embryos available, and it's a great option for someone who would like children and experience pregnancy and, for whatever reasons, are unable to on their own."

The embryos Dara Nelson now carries could develop into one or two babies that will be biologically linked to Merianne.

The Nelsons said the embryo adoption cost about $4,000. Their insurance picked up the medical costs.

Embryo adoption has been around since the late 1990s and has federal government support. According to the Office of Population Affairs in the Office of Public Health and Science, there are 400,000 frozen embryos in the United States.

In fiscal year 2010, the government earmarked $4.2 million for an embryo awareness public adoption campaign.

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