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Woodbury couple adopts embryo before pregnancy

Woodbury residents Tiffany and Simon Huang adopted CaitlinJoy as an embryo before she was born. (Staff photo by Riham Feshir)

Tiffany Huang always wanted to carry a baby, feel every kick, hiccup and flutter.

But when the Woodbury woman found out she couldn’t get pregnant, she and her husband Simon began considering adoption.

But not just traditional adoption – embryo adoption, too.

The process combines all the aspects of adopting a baby – from home studies to classes – with new embryo implantation technology.

“But the big difference is that I would be able to experience pregnancy,” Tiffany said. “It seemed like the best fit for us that we wanted to pursue.”

Since they believe life begins at conception, the Huangs wanted to legally adopt the embryo before Tiffany even began carrying the baby. Three years later, they welcomed CaitlinJoy and brought her home as a small but healthy 6 lbs 9oz baby girl who goes by the nickname JoyJoy.

Because parents freeze many embryos while they can, unused frozen embryos sit at fertility clinics indefinitely until the parents decide to have more children or stop.

“Once they saw their own kids they realize ‘we can’t just let these embryos sit there indefinitely,’” said Simon.

That’s where agencies that offer embryo adoption come in. The Huangs used a California adoption agency that offers a service dubbed “Snowflakes” that connects parents with remaining embryos with couples who want to give birth to their adopted children.

It was important for Simon and Tiffany to use an agency that would match them up with the biological parents just like a traditional adoption process. It was also important for them to have JoyJoy’s adoption story begin before she was even born.

The experience wasn’t smooth sailing from the beginning, though. At the time, 26-year-old Tiffany had numerous embryo implantations with a number of failed pregnancies and losses. Some transfers didn’t work, while others brought unsuccessful outcomes.

“It’s obviously not a guarantee that you’ll get pregnant on the first, second or third try,” she said, noting that the method is not for everyone as it is time consuming and expensive.

“There is all sorts of different anxiety that you kind of learn to deal with,” added Simon.

Doctors determine the odds of getting pregnant based on genetics of the biological parents, then decide whether to implant multiple embryos or just a couple.

On her last try, Tiffany had a few embryos implanted with one successful pregnancy and one loss during the first trimester.

“Two attached and started to grow,” she said. “But only JoyJoy made it to full term.”

The years of legal paper work, failed attempts and hours of labor was all worth it to the Huangs once they held their baby girl for the first time.

“It was a really big relief that she was finally outside of me,” Tiffany said. “We can finally touch her versus feel her inside of me.”

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.