The ProLife Team Podcast 109 | Daniel Nehrbass & Jacob Barr | Embryo Adoption: Ethics and Awareness

The ProLife Team Podcast
The ProLife Team Podcast 109 | Daniel Nehrbass & Jacob Barr | Embryo Adoption: Ethics and Awareness
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Jacob Barr and Daniel Nehrbass discussed the importance and complexities of embryo adoption in the pro-life sphere, emphasizing the need for greater awareness and ethical consideration in this underexplored area.

Summary

This is Jacob Barr, and I recently had the privilege of hosting Daniel Nehrbass on the Pro-Life Team Podcast. Daniel, the president of Night Light Christian Adoptions, shared his extensive knowledge about embryo adoption, a concept not widely discussed in the pro-life community. He explained the prevalence of frozen embryos in the United States, noting that many couples who undergo IVF end up with excess embryos, leading to ethical dilemmas about their future. Daniel’s organization operates the Snowflakes program, focusing on embryo adoption and offering a life-affirming option for these embryos.

Our conversation delved into the adoption process, highlighting its similarities to infant adoption, including thorough home studies and the encouragement of open relationships between the donor and adoptive families. Daniel also addressed some misconceptions and barriers to embryo adoption within the Christian and medical communities. He emphasized the urgent need for awareness and action in this area, citing the lack of conversation about embryo adoption at major pro-life events and conferences.

The discussion also covered the logistical aspects of embryo adoption, such as the shipping and handling of embryos and the ethical considerations surrounding IVF and embryo adoption. Daniel’s insights were eye-opening, especially regarding the complexities and emotional aspects of embryo adoption.

For anyone interested in the intersection of pro-life advocacy and adoption, this podcast episode is a must-listen. It sheds light on a less-discussed but vital aspect of pro-life work.

Relevant hashtags for this content include:
#ProLifeAdvocacy, #EmbryoAdoption, #IVFEthics, #AdoptionAwareness, #ChristianAdoptions, #SnowflakesProgram, #EthicalDilemmas, #ProLifePodcast, #NightLightChristianAdoptions, #FamilyBuilding.

Transcript

The transcript was automatically generated and may contain errors.

Daniel Nehrbass :

Welcome to the pro-life Team Podcast i’m Daniel Nehrbass from Nightlight, Christian Adoptions with Jacob from I Rapture, and we’re here to talk about embryo adoption.

Jacob Barr :

So Daniel, I’m excited to have you on the pro-life Team Podcast. Would you introduce yourself as if you were speaking to a room of Pregnancy Clinic Directors or Pregnancy Clinic leadership team members or pro-life Leaders for that matter?

Daniel Nehrbass :

Yeah, sure thanks for having me. My name is Daniel Nehrbass i’m the president of Night Light christian Adoptions, we’re an adoption agency that was founded 63 years ago to address the problem of women facing unplanned pregnancy. And so for more than 60 years, we’ve offered unbiased and uncoercive pregnancy counseling. For those who are looking to place for adoption, we have Christian families in our offices in 10 States. And for those women who choose not to place, then we offer whatever financial assistance or counseling assistance they need throughout their pregnancy and six weeks afterward.

Jacob Barr :

Awesome so will you. Yeah speak to tell us about the current state of embryo storage in the US like when it comes to frozen embryos like what? Yeah what are your thoughts in that space?

Daniel Nehrbass :

I think most people would be surprised to find out that as many as one in 10 couples around them have done in vitro fertilization to create embryos. We know that one in six couples struggles with infertility, and so of those who struggle with infertility, at least half of them go down the IVF route some point and create some embryos. So every church, for instance, has families, maybe many families, hundreds of families that have embryos in frozen storage. And this creates for those families or those couples who created embryos, a little bit of a guilt problem for them because they know that they have an unresolved problem that they ought to be doing something about. They created, let’s say a typical couple creates 10 embryos in their quest to have a baby. And of those 10 embryos, they may use four of those embryos to be implanted. And from those four embryos, they were implanted 2 babies. You know, so let’s say most couples are looking to have two babies. So it took four embryos to get two babies, and now they’ve got 6 embryos leftover and those embryos are in frozen storage somewhere. We know that the number of embryos in the United States in frozen storage is now close to 1 2 million. And we have been the recipient of the Embryo Adoption Awareness Grant that George Bush instituted in 2002 We’ve been the recipient of that grant for almost every year since then. And we used that grant to do research about what are people doing with their embryos when they’re in storage. And the vast majority of people have no plan at all of what to do with their embryos in other words, most people haven’t made a decision they’re going, they’re doing nothing about it except continually storing those embryos year after year. And so oddly enough, although all of our families who place their embryos for adoption are pro-life because the easy thing to do would be to destroy those embryos, right i mean, the so-called easy, the perceived felt easy thing to do would be destroy the embryos. The There’s something that pushes people over the edge and makes them go that extra step of giving these embryos to another couple, letting someone else raise their biological child and what would compel someone to let someone else raise their biological child it’s a passion for life it’s a pro-life work that we’re doing. But not everyone has that pro-life passion or pro-life compulsion. So that’s why most people are planning on doing nothing with their embryos. Most people don’t want to destroy them. I mean, your average citizen, even if they’re not Christian, even if they’re not pro-life they don’t want to destroy their embryos because they look at their children who’ve been born from them, and then they know that these are human beings they see their own kids and most people don’t want to donate them to science. You know, they’re not interested in those embryos being used for that purpose. So they just need a little bit of an invitation and a push. Let’s do something about these embryos today. Let’s donate them to another family who’s going to have their dreams come true.

Jacob Barr :

Wow so how does. Yeah, So tell me, tell talk more about the adoption process of a of a of a frozen embryo. Like what does that?

Daniel Nehrbass :

Mean The adoption process of an embryo is pretty much the same as adopting an infant in many ways. We conceived of this idea of the snowflakes program in 1997 snowflakes means they’re frozen, tiny gifts from above and unique. So that’s what embryos are and what made our program different from everyone else who was clinics that were doing embryo donation. The reason we use the word adoption is that we’ve employed the three core elements of social work into this process so sometimes the clinics and the medical community will object and say the word adoption shouldn’t be used you’re muddying the waters you shouldn’t use the word adoption. We use the word adoption because we have a home study, so the family who receives the embryos goes through a home study. We use the word adoption because it’s an open relationship where both parties know each other the receiving family, the adoptive family will know the contact information and names of the donor family they’ll contact them, they’ll send them pictures of the baby the placing family will send birthday gifts so this is an open relationship. The placing family will actually choose the adoptive family. So very similar to domestic adoption. And then the third element that we introduced here was the matching process is done by our clinical team our we have a social worker involved in this team and it’s done by the agency. So this isn’t self matching there are websites where people can self match for embryos, but that’s just not a best practice of social work. So what we identified, even back in the nineties, is that people weren’t donating their embryos anywhere because they had certain huge questions about the process like how do I know that it’s going to be a good family? How do I know it’s going to be a safe family? How do I know I would like the family? And will I even know if a baby’s ever born. And if you have an anonymous program, like a lot of clinics do, you don’t know that it’s a good family it’s just a family that’s a patient of that clinic. That doesn’t make them a good family. You’re not going to know the outcome no one’s going to tell you a baby was born. You’re not going to know whether you have anything in common with that family because you’re not picking that family. So we knew that not only would we be able to introduce social work practice to this, we would actually increase the donation rates. We could get people to say yes to this, and we could get them to say yes if they had confidence in the process, if we could convince people it is a good family, You can pick the family, you’ll know the outcome. Then more people would choose to give life to their embryos. And as a result, we’ve seen thousands of people come to our program and go from, I don’t know or I could never do that or I’m too scared to yes, I will offer my embryos to another family because we’ve given them confidence in this process.

Jacob Barr :

Wow, so essentially this topic of, you know, talking about snowflake embryos, you know, embryos who are frozen. Well, i feel like I haven’t heard much about it outside of your group. Honestly, i feel like in the pro-life sphere. It’s not one of the topics that i don’t think I’ve ever heard about it ever At like a heartbeat karen Nifla Alliance for Life Conference.

Daniel Nehrbass :

Well, I’ll be honest, Jacob, there is some resistance to talking about snowflakes it is a difficult conversation to have and there are barriers to awareness. Let’s start with the Christian community and we’ll talk about the medical community. One of the barriers in the Christian community that we’ve heard directly from our partners in foster care and our partners in international adoption. Here’s what they say. Yes, we agree that there’s a problem with embryos, and we agree that they ought to be given life. But it’s not urgent. What’s urgent is the kids in foster care. What’s urgent is the kids in orphanages. So let’s solve the orphanage problem and the foster care problem 1st, and then we’ll worry about the embryos the embryos aren’t going anywhere they’re safe on ice. So that’s one of the problems and I’ve heard that explicitly stated to us by leaders in this field. So I know that is a serious, real barrier because that’s being articulated. The second problem is that the leaders of the pro-life movement are Catholics i mean, i myself have a Christian, a Protestant ministry background i was a Protestant pastor for 17 years, but I was also a pro-life leader i stood with my family in front of Planned Parenthood many times. And when I’m in front of a Planned Parenthood protesting everyone, there’s Catholic, You know, the leadership in the pro-life movement is the Catholic Church they are the front runners, and for any Protestant, they’re our best friend in that movement. But the Catholic Church has some uncertainty about embryo adoption. I say uncertainty because the Catholic Church has not explicitly stated that embryo adoption is OK. There are some well known Catholic theologians like Elizabeth Rex, who’s a Catholic scholar and works at a Catholic University who’ve explicitly made an argument in favor of embryo adoption. But in general, the Catholic sentiment is suspicion about embryo adoption. And the suspicion comes from the fact that IVF is the first step, not the first step for us it’s not the first step for snowflakes or for adoption, but it was the first step in the process long ago. And so it raises this question that I think is a fair question some well informed Catholics scholars will ask us, aren’t you implicitly condoning IVF if you’re doing this by the very fact that you’re giving people an out? In other words, you’re someone could go to their doctor and say, I don’t know if I want to do IVF, but I guess we’ll go ahead and do it even though it goes against the Catholic Church teaching, because if we have extra embryos, we could always just give them to night light. And so people will say, well, you are giving people an option to do IVF with a better, you know, cleaner conscience because they always know they can just donate to snowflakes when they’re done. So in that sense, you are implicitly condoning in vitro fertilization. But that’s not true. I’ll be frank that the staff that we have who work for the snowflakes program, many of them have worked with us for decades. The closer they get to this field, the more information they get, The more statistics we get, the less comfortable we are with IVF. For the most part, the staff and our snowflakes program are not in favor of in vitro. They have serious concerns about it that they share with the Catholic Church. But we’re not causing the problem we’re solving the problem. I mean, it’s like someone, it would be like a pregnancy center saying, aren’t you condoning sex outside of marriage by giving these women an option to get support when they’re facing an unplanned pregnancy? It’s the same argument we’re not pregnancy centers aren’t condoning sex outside of marriage. Adoption agencies aren’t condoning sex outside of marriage we’re solving a problem we’re in my 12 years that I’ve been at Night Light, no one has ever called me up and said, Dan, we’re thinking about doing in vitro, but we just want to get your opinion about it first. People don’t call and ask me my opinion. They do in vitro because they feel like it and they do in vitro they cause a problem. The problem is extra embryos. So they call us not because they’re looking for permission, They call us because they’re looking for a solution to it. And let me also share just the brute reality in the medical field about why you don’t care about embryo adoption. It is more financially lucrative for a fertility doctor. To talk you into IVF where they can make a hundred thousand dollars than to talk you into snowflakes where they might make 4000$ So a frozen embryo transfer, which is required for snowflakes adoption, costs about 4000 bucks. But most couples who do IVF, it takes three in vitro cycles in order to have a successful baby. About 86 % of couples will have a baby after three in vitro cycles. Well, that’s going to yield that doctor a hundred thousand dollars. So the medical community is not talking about it. The orphan rescue community isn’t talking about it, and the Catholic Church isn’t talking about it so much as you would think that we have allies surrounding us in all of these fields, There is it’s their allies and friends surrounded with suspicion and concern.

Jacob Barr :

Yeah, that it makes sense what you’re saying and I just sort of wish there was more awareness and understanding because here I am, someone who’s worked in this pro-life space for 24 years. And until I was connected with your group, yeah, I did i had never heard of it before. Like, honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone else mention this topic. And I’m familiar with people.

Daniel Nehrbass :

Yeah i’m familiar with people feeling that way i mean, what on orphan Sunday was the first Sunday of November this year. Often we will set up booths and info tables at big churches on Orphan Sunday. And every year that I do this, someone comes up to me and says they want to have a baby, but they’re having difficulty having a baby. And they hear about embryo adoption. And usually they come to tears and they’re crying for two reasons. First, they’re crying because it’s the answer to their dreams. You know, they’ll actually verbalize it and say this is what I’ve been looking for, this is what I’ve been dreaming about this is a dream come true. But then those tears are also frustration. And they’ll also articulate this. Why didn’t anyone tell me about this? Why didn’t my doctor tell me about it? Why didn’t my adoption agency tell me about it so they it’s bittersweet you know, they’re upset that they didn’t know about it sooner, but they also feel extremely hopeful that it’s their dream come true. The reason that this is a dream come true for people is in a domestic adoption, you have to wait to be picked by a birth mom. The birth mom could change her mind, and the birth mom may very likely have drug exposure. So there could be complications from the drug exposure she could change her mind after the placement, or she may take years it may take years for a couple to be picked by a birth mom. With embryo adoption, there’s no wait to be picked because we have the same number of embryos as we do adoptive families. So you don’t have to wait to be picked. The embryos aren’t going to be drug exposed because you’re the birth mom. You know, the prenatal environment is completely up to the adoptive family you’re giving birth to your adopted child so you know the baby’s not going to be drug exposed because it’s you’re going to be the birth mom and then you don’t have to worry about anyone changing their mind because the embryos get shipped to you. It’s a agreement that’s never been disputed in court we’ve been doing this for 23 years it’s never been challenged. So there’s just no legal complications, there’s no medical concern about drug exposure and no concern about being picked.

Jacob Barr :

Wait, can you expand on how the frozen embryos are shipped to someone can you explain, expand on that a bit?

Daniel Nehrbass :

The embryos are Most embryos in the country are stored at a small number of clinics, like, for instance, Fairfax Cryobank is a embryo storage facility we work with. We’re willing to work with any embryologist, any clinic that does frozen embryo transfers, but we prefer to work with a select number who are going to say yes this goes back to the pro-life mission of what we do. Our one of our battle cries is that every embryo deserves a chance of life. But there’s a lot of clinics out there that don’t want what they consider bad embryos. They consider bad embryos like, you know, they have their ways of ranking embryo quality. They don’t want bad embryos because their statistics get published publicly every year on the CDC website. There’s only about 700 clinics in this country that do frozen embryo transfers, so all of them get rated on their success rate this clinic has a 55 % chance of a baby being born after a frozen embryo transfer, another clinic may have a 45 % chance of a baby being born. So the theory is they don’t want what they consider bad embryos because they don’t want their statistics to go down. But we have found a very small number of clinics that are so pro-life and so like minded that they believe that every embryo deserves to be given a chance of life. So they’ll say yes to our embryos, they’ll accept them from us. So we have some go to clinics where we say we need you to take these embryos. And So what we’ll do is we’ll tell the adoptive family here’s a clinic that’ll take your embryos we need you to travel to Tennessee to on this. You know, when the doctor says that it’s the right month for you or right time of month travel to Tennessee, have your frozen embryo transfer done at that clinic and they’re the ones who are willing to do this procedure. So we have those partnerships and then the embryos will actually be shipped by FedEx to that clinic from the storage facility where they’ll do the frozen embryo transfer.

Jacob Barr :

Wow, that’s that seems so. That seems like almost like science fiction, honestly to have an embryo shipped by FedEx, yeah.

Daniel Nehrbass :

And then, of course, the other science fiction element to this is not just people giving birth to their adopted children, but they’re giving birth to children who may have been created, who are older than they are. I mean, one of our partner in this field, another embryo adoption program, had a baby born this year that was older than its parents as far as when it was frozen the baby was frozen more than almost 30 years ago and the parents were younger than 30.

Jacob Barr :

Wow, that is. Wow what an interesting thought that’s really interesting. So I’m going to make an assumption that many pregnancy clinic directors are brand new to this topic, and not all, but let’s say many. What would you like them to know about frozen embryos and snowflakes? Like what would be helpful to someone who is working in a Prency clinic, you know, working with clients and people who are essentially really and also having a connection with it. Is a Prency clinic a good connection or is this really a better connection would be adoption? You know, organizations that provide adoption.

Daniel Nehrbass :

To pregnancy Centers for a good connection because these are pro-life minded people so here’s what I would want them to know. First of all that they have their other pro-life minded friends and financial supporters and church members have done IVF i guarantee it. I mean I can tell you this, we have Catholic clients donating embryos we there are Catholics who created embryos that are donating embryos to our program even though they know that their church would have frowned upon that practice of them creating those embryos. And they there are Catholics looking for embryos even though they know their church might frown on it so there’s just this reality that people in the pro-life community need to understand. You have friends who created embryos, who have embryos in frozen storage, who haven’t done anything about it. So yeah, I wouldn’t want any pro-life friend of ours to know that they have friends with frozen embryos and storage who they should prompt and nudge and prod and say it’s time to donate your embryos to snowflakes. So that’s the first step. And then the second is to know that this is a pro-life ministry because we’re not creating a problem, we’re solving a problem. We’re trying to give every embryo a chance of life, but also to recognize, as I said, that there are clinics who don’t want these embryos and so these embryos need every friend they can find, every advocate they can find, because we need there to be clinics who are going to say yes to giving these embryos a chance of life it’s not so simple as just having an adoptive family and a placing family willing to connect with each other. Nothing happens unless there’s a clinic that’s going to take these embryos. So I think we need to recognize there is a such thing as a pro-life fertility doctor there is a such thing as a pro-life embryologist. There is a such thing as a pro-life person doing frozen embryo transfers we may be suspicious, we may not like everyone in that field and everyone in that community, but if there wasn’t a pro-life embryologist out there would be no embryo adoption. So, you know, let’s not assume that everybody in this field is suspect or evil. We’ve got friends in this field. So this is some of the important things to know. Also then just to recognize that, you know, with domestic adoption, we know that the number of families hoping to adopt outnumbers the birth mothers by probably 50 to 1. So, you know, for every woman who’s willing to place her baby for adoption, there’s fifty families hoping to adopt that baby. What are we going to do about the other 49 Well, someone could say, well, that’s not my problem. And I think that’s true you know, it’s certainly not the birth mom’s problem. It’s not the crisis pregnancy center’s problem. But it is nice that God seems to have thought this through that well, there is another way we can rescue for some of those hopeful adoptive families. Although we may not like that those embryos were created in the 1st place and we may not approve of it. They’re there and someone needs to adopt those embryos and those embryos can go to hopeful adoptive families. So just spread the word about it that you’ve got many adoption options you can adopt from foster care, you can adopt from another country, you can adopt A baby from unplanned pregnancy, but you’ve also got this option and so back to those people who do you think we need to solve one problem 1st? I believe there is room for all four types of adoption to simultaneously be pursued. There’s enough need for all four types of adoptions to be pursued and there’s definitely enough demand. You know, there’s enough needy couples for all types of adoption and there’s enough needy children for all types of adoption. We can work on all of this together.

Jacob Barr :

Wow. So when it comes to, you know, this heroic i you know, essentially when it comes to a birth mom adopting a frozen embryo and essentially helping that embryo go on to, you know, to find a birthday and so on and what is essentially to me that seems like a very heroic and pro-life amazing decision for someone, you know, for a couple to make. What are the advantages or disadvantages or what are the, you know, the hardships and the benefits of a decision like that?

Daniel Nehrbass :

Yeah, that’s a good question so sometimes doctors scratch their head and try to one, you know, wonder and figure out why would anyone even do this. If you take it from the doctor’s perspective, they’re like, why wouldn’t everybody try to create their own embryos? Not just for financial gain for the doctor, but like they just assume that everybody out there who’s having trouble having a baby would just prefer to use every medical process available to them to do what they can to have a child who’s fully genetically related to them, or at least partially genetically related to them. So they just can’t figure out why we why anyone is doing this. But there’s some real obvious reasons, Jacob, why people choose embryo adoption. The 1st is back to what I said about the differences between embryo and domestic adoption. Some people do this because they don’t want to worry about the prenatal environment, drug exposure. Some people do it because they don’t want to worry about being picked by a birth mom or birth mom changing their mind. Another reason people do this is they don’t want to have biological children because there’s a medical condition that’s hereditary in their family. So it could be that a woman is very able to, she’s fertile and able to carry, but afraid that if she does have a child, that child will have cystic fibrosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease or something like that. So every once in a while some people will say we think adopting an embryo is a better choice for us than having biological children. Some people choose this because of age. If someone’s 45 years old, they may think that there’s too high of a risk of them getting pregnant naturally, that their child will have Down syndrome or something like that. So they just choose to adopt an embryo rather than have biological children because of how old they are. Some people choose embryo adoption purely out of a sense of rescue. Every year we have a handful of families who are so pro-life that they will literally call us up and say we feel called by God to rescue an embryo we already have 6 biological children. We don’t have any difficulty conceiving, caring or giving birth. We just feel called by God to rescue embryos. And then they’ll take the next step, Jacob they’ll say give us your hardest embryos you’ve got, in other words, the embryos that no one wants, the embryos that have been sitting around for decades, the embryos we can’t get matched and we always do have those embryos we have embryos that are stigmatized for one reason or another the doctors don’t want them, the adoptive families don’t want them. But then we’ll have that spectacular couple say give us your hardest embryos. But let me give you one last reason why people choose this. It’s because they know that either egg donation or sperm donation is 1 possibility for them to build their family, to get a child who’s half genetically related to them. And although there are people out there who do that, the people who come to the snowflakes program, they aren’t comfortable with a child who’s half genetically related. They would just rather adopt. They, in other words, they’re not comfortable with an egg donor, or they’re not comfortable with a sperm donor. They’re not comfortable with what that means for them as a couple, and they’re not comfortable with how they’re going to explain that to their kids. Or maybe they’re not comfortable theologically with the idea of breaking the marriage bed by having, you know, sperm or egg from another non married person. So for theological reasons or for emotional reasons, they say sperm and egg donation are not right for us, so we would just rather adopt. But they’re still able to carry, so they adopt an embryo instead of adopting an infant.

Jacob Barr :

Yeah, I do know, Yeah. Out of my experience, I know of one woman where she said that she had two embryos implanted. And no because they were if they if someone didn’t adopt them, they were going to be destroyed and so and I just remember thinking like I didn’t know much about that at the time and that it was very. I didn’t yeah i didn’t I didn’t believe in connected until working with your group. You know as to what that really might mean or is. So how often do embryos get destroyed or what does that look like?

Daniel Nehrbass :

There’s a looming sociological problem on the horizon that has not fully been realized yet, but it will be so the answer your question is not as often here as in Canada or Australia or Great Britain who have all passed mandatory destruction laws. So for instance, in most other English speaking countries there’s a mandatory destruction law that after 10 years of an embryo being in storage, if there’s not a plan for usage, you know, for life, then they must be destroyed. Let me explain why those countries have passed those laws. It’s because eventually the couples who’ve created those embryos are going to get divorced or die. And then what are we going to do when those couples who’ve gotten divorced or die what are we going to do with those embryos? There’s going to be a battle. If they get divorced, there’s going to be a battle over the future of those embryos one spouse wants the embryos to live and one spouse wants the embryos to die. There’s If the couple dies and the children inherit those embryos, there’s going to be a battle among the children. Are we going to give the embryos to another couple are we going to destroy the embryos are we going to use them maybe in the family, you know, someone else give birth or what what’s going to happen to those embryos? So unfortunately, a lot of other countries have said in order to prevent divorce and death, leading to giant custody battles, we’ll just kill all the embryos. Well, the US has not yet passed an embryo destruction law, but I bet they will. I don’t think it’ll be nationwide, but I bet you states are going to start to pass embryo destruction laws as especially the blue states, you know, are going to start passing these laws. Just we’ve got a culture of death and it’s going to be the simple solution to prevent these custody battles. Hopefully then we’ll see some of the conservative life affirming states ban the destruction of embryos and say that you have to give embryos life you know, maybe we’ll see a division there, but currently in the US, most embryos aren’t being destroyed, Most embryos are being indefinitely frozen with no plan. But in our neighboring nations, they are being destroyed. And I’m afraid that’s the destiny if we don’t do something about it here.

Jacob Barr :

Wow. So when it comes to this work that you’ve been doing, where have you seen God’s fingerprints or where have you seen God show up in this space?

Daniel Nehrbass :

Constantly but I’ll give you a few examples. Let’s go back to my phrase about the so-called bad embryos. We actually have more statistics on embryos than anyone, doctor, because we’ve had thousands of embryos donated to our program and we’ve had over a thousand babies. Born so you know, we have a larger program than your typical doctor’s office. So when we hear doctors say that they don’t like an embryo or they think an embryo’s bad quality, we smirk not only theologically knowing that, well, God’s in charge of all of this, but we also know, just statistically, that doctors can’t say that we know that every embryo could result in life despite what the doctor thinks, every embryo has potential there’s no bad embryo. So just a simple example we had two so-called bad embryos that no doctors wanted, and we finally found a doctor to do the transfer. And those two embryos resulted in three babies. One of the embryos actually split. The family had three babies from 2 embryos. So who’s laughing now? You know, so we get to see God’s promise that every life is worth redeeming come true if we’ll just give him a chance, we give him a chance. And God’s going to pull through and show that he can give life to any one of these embryos he’s in charge of this process. Another example, just this year we had a what became our one of our longest waiting embryos? Most of the people who are in our program tend to be Caucasian and tend to be Christian. Every once in a while we’ll have someone donate embryos who’s not Caucasian or not Christian, and it just makes it a little harder for us to find an adoptive family because most of our families are Christian. So we had an Indian couple who were probably Hindu and their embryos sat and waited for quite a while because we didn’t have an adoptive family for them. And eventually years later, as we just waited and were patient and knew that God had a family for these embryos, but they were our longest waiting embryos. We did find a couple who were the same ethnicity, but we’re a Christian couple. And they adopted the embryos and said, yes, unfortunately, a baby wasn’t born from those embryos. But it at least proved that there is a family for every for every facing placing family, there’s an adoptive family. For every adoptive family there’s a placing family and we’ve known that to be true in the 63 years that we’ve had a domestic program. I mean, we had a paraplegic adoptive father. And just if you look at him, you wonder, are we ever going to find a birth mom well, we had a birth mom Take a look at this paraplegic adoptive father and say him, well, you know, with this couple she said, I want a place with this couple. So you know, God has a birth mom out there for every family. Dan has a family for every birth mom. We had a an Amish couple in our program and we wondered what birth mom is going to choose an Amish couple. And so we debated whether we should take an Amish couple in because we didn’t know if we’d have a birth mom who would choose an Amish couple. And one of our staff members said, Dan, if Night Light Christian Adoptions can’t find a birth mom for an Amish couple, then there’s no one who can you know, if God doesn’t, she said if God doesn’t have a birth mom for them through us, then where does God have this birth mom? And so we said yes to the Amish couple and of course they got picked of course there was a birth mom who looked at a couple and said, this is exactly where I want my baby to grow up. So we see God in charge and in all the work we do.

Jacob Barr :

Oh, that’s good yeah thank you for sharing these stories. So when it comes to Prancy clinics having and the reason why I say precis clinic, because most people that listen to this podcast are in that space. So when I guess when it comes to let’s say well let’s go to pastures because I know this everyone who listens has a pasture and hopefully we have several pasture listeners but when it comes to a pasture, what message would you have for them when it comes to how they could?

Daniel Nehrbass :

Speak or Yeah well, i would start on the embryo donation side because I think that’s where the importance of the pro-life message and the first step in the dominoes falling to give that child life begins is with the family who has embryos in storage and so I would tell pastors, either on Orphan Sunday or on Mother’s Day or Father’s Day or at least once a year, include in your message a statement. Hey, if you’ve got embryos in frozen storage, you feel guilty about it i know you do. Well, it’s time to stop feeling guilty and just do something about it. Give those embryos a chance of life. Donate them to the snowflakes program. It only takes one minute to do it. Those people know who they are. They know what this is i mean you’ve been talking about how you didn’t know about snowflakes, but trust me, those people know who they are and they are in your church and they know what embryo donation is and they know this is an option available to them. They just need someone to tell them it’s time. It’s not even that they need someone to tell them to do it because Jacob, believe it or not, even though our families are all pro-life who donate their embryos, you know, it takes a pro-life person to do this. You know why they finally, you know how the timing comes about. It’s rather silly, but people make the decision on timing because they get a storage bill. So they get a bill from their embryo storage facility that says you owe us fifteen hundred dollars for the next 12 months of embryo storage. And it’s not that they resent the twelve hundred dollars and it’s not that they’ve never thought about embryo adoption, it’s this they say to their husband, you know, honey, we’ve talked about embryo adoption in the past and. We said we were going to do it, and here’s this twelve hundred dollar bill or fifteen hundred dollar bill and i know that this amount of money isn’t going to make or break the decision, but it seems that it’s time. You know, are we really going to pay this bill and store these embryos for another year or are we going to do what we’ve already been talking about doing, which is decide today to give these embryos to another couple. So that’s why the pastors are going to be so effective if they just mention this once a year. The couples have thought about donating their embryos. They just need one more push in that direction and sometimes that bill is the push, but maybe it’ll be the pastor speaking to them. So that’s the first thing I would say to pastors about it and then the second would be, as far as the adoptive families, just be aware that there are multiple ways to adopt and that if a woman is able to carry but not able to conceive, embryo adoption is a better decision for her than domestic adoption, because embryo adoption does not have the weight, the long line of people waiting that domestic adoption does.

Jacob Barr :

Yeah, that makes that makes a lot of sense. How many adoption agencies include the, you know, the talking point or the conversation about stove flakes or embryo adoption?

Daniel Nehrbass :

Oh, almost none. In fact, there’s really only one major, major partner or, you know, similar program to ours in the country so most embryo adoptions in this country. I’ll pick a number that’s just an educated guess let’s say 90 % of embryo adoptions in this country are done by either snowflakes or the NEDC, the National Embryo Donation Center. But back to your question, the National Embryo Donation Center is not an adoption agency, it’s a clinic. So although they have a program similar to ours, they’re not an agency. We do the home studies, they don’t do home studies. They don’t have the same matching criteria or process that we have, which I, you know, was talked about the social work element. And they also don’t have the same push for openness that we have they kind of lean toward closed adoptions rather than open adoptions. So their model is a clinic model largely and is not an adoption agency. Nevertheless, they’re our best friend in this field, they’re our biggest partner and they’re the most pro-life people working in the field of Embryology. So other than the two of us, there’s a couple non Christian tiny programs that are out there that aren’t agencies and there’s a couple Christian programs that aren’t agencies that are out there. But as far as licensed agencies that have an embryo adoption program, I’m actually not aware of one. I’m aware of some licensed agencies who attempted to do an embryo adoption program years ago because we assisted them. So we gave them all the tools, we helped them get started, we helped them get up and running. But today I am not aware of a adoption agency with an embryo program other than us.

Jacob Barr :

So for, you know, the adoption agencies without an embryo program, what’s it look like for them to provide a referral?

Daniel Nehrbass :

Well, first of all, it would just be good practice for them to educate clients and all the options that they have, right? So they do the best. Sometimes we tell people, well, I mean three out of four of the people who inquire of our agency don’t proceed. So we’re referring people all day long. You give people all the information they’re looking for, help people be go where they’re going to be successful. So I would tell other adoption agencies your best service to that client is to tell them about all their options. But if we want to sweeten the pot, you know, we have partners with certain agencies who say, would you like to get a referral fee from our agency and we’ve offered referral fees to partner adoption agencies for sending people because of this assumption. Since there’s so many people who are lining up for domestic adoption, if we assume it’s 50 to one, you know, fifty families for every birth mom. If you turn one of your prospective clients to embryo adoption instead of domestic adoption, you’re not going to do fewer domestic adoptions this year, right you’re the number of domestic adoptions that an agency does this year is not equal to the number of families, it’s equal to the number of birth moms. So they could be turning people all day long to snowflakes and still have the identical number of adoptions they would have had otherwise because it’s the number of birth moms they serve. So just in the interest of giving families all their options and educating them fairly, they should let them know about it but if they want to sign up for our partnership program, we do have a referral fee agreement.

Jacob Barr :

So when it comes to an NBO an A frozen embryo, how old is that frozen embryo before it’s frozen?

Daniel Nehrbass :

That’s a good oh before it’s frozen. So usually it’s three or four or five days.

Jacob Barr :

And so have they ever been, like, rescued you know, when it comes to like, you know, where is that is it? Yeah on the. Is it? Yeah where is it? Pulled out of the body is it the placenta area or is it the fallopian tubes?

Daniel Nehrbass :

Or no, it’s before either that process so these are test tube babies. So these are created in a test tube with sperm and egg typically from a married couple, you know so the let’s say that the husband has an extremely low sperm count, you know, down maybe almost negligible. But some doctors will say, well I can always find one. So if the reason a couple’s having a fertility issue is the husband has a near 0 sperm count, then the doctor will find one sperm and put that in a Petri dish with an egg from the wife. And then the married couple will create a embryo that’s in a Petri dish. That embryo will be grown out for three or four days and then either implanted immediately in the same birth mom, you know, the same mom whose egg that was, you know, her own genetic child, or that embryo will be frozen and used for later purposes. If we could take embryos out of Fallopian tubes or uteruses, that would be phenomenal for the sake of preventing abortion, I remember exhibiting at a pro-life event one time where there was a pregnancy center with a booth next to us. And I told her a little bit about embryo adoption and she said, oh, well, you’re what we need. You’re what we’re looking for what if we can take these babies out of our women who are, you know, facing unplanned pregnancy and then give them to other couples to finish the pregnancy? But it doesn’t work like that these are embryos that were grown in a Petri dish and never implanted yet.

Jacob Barr :

Ok. Yeah, that’s interesting. Has that ever been attempted to have one?

Daniel Nehrbass :

You know, my guess is that i suppose that it has been attempted, but essentially that would be like an ectopic pregnancy and an ectopic pregnancy is when the embryo starts to grow in the fallopian tube and becomes a life threatening situation. And I would assume every woman who had an ectopic pregnancy would prefer that the doctor simply move it, right couldn’t you just move it from the fallopian tube to the uterus? If that could be done, it would be done, but apparently it can’t be.

Jacob Barr :

Interesting. Yeah, it’s. Those are good thoughts and yeah, things to consider maybe in the future again as you know as people with fresh eyes or somehow figure things out but well, thank you so much for sharing this really helpful insight and I really appreciate your group, you know, doing what you’re doing and I’m trying to. Yeah essentially it just feels like there needs to be awareness and an understanding and I can I can. And based on what you said, I can understand why the Catholic Church or certain groups are, you know are not on board with way IVF, the way it’s way it’s way it started. But, and I agree, I don’t. You know, now that we have these frozen embryos, giving life and helping them continue is the only pro-life option when it comes to.

Daniel Nehrbass :

Yeah, aware that there is tremendous loss in the course of IVF. You know, although the statistics I referred to earlier that the CDC says, you know, one clinic may have a 55 % success rate, another 45 but the truth is we see 90 % of these embryos die. You know, 9 out of 10 die, Only one out of 10 that’s ever created. It’s just those 40 and 50 % that’s from those that are implanted that lead to a pregnancy. But even there, the woman’s usually implanted with two embryos and they had to create four in order to get to that point so we’re so painfully aware that nine out of ten of these embryos are not living and that it’s not, it’s not good what’s happening with IVF, you know, And when we see that tremendous loss, it does make us equally concerned be assured, our staff feel that loss but we’re just trying to solve the problem that’s currently before us.

Jacob Barr :

Yeah and that makes sense. So usually at the end of these podcasts, I’d like to invite, you know, my guests to pray in a way that those who are listening can pray alongside or with you. And so, and I think we’re at that time when it comes to like, how would when you cry out to God and with the expectation that those who are listening can cry out with you and would you. Yeah pray in a way that will. Yeah call for good things into this space and for people yeah.

Daniel Nehrbass :

I’d love to let’s pray. All right. All right. Thank you, Lord. I pray that there would be more friends aligned in the effort to rescue these embryos and give them a chance of life we pray God that church members who have embryos in storage would do what may feel like the harder thing in giving their embryo to another couple. But we just pray that you would inspire them, equip them, and prepare them for that hard decision, and make it easier by warming their heart toward that idea. We pray for an increase in the awareness of embryo donation and adoption so that it would be on the forefront of the pro-life movement and churches involved in that work. Lord, we pray for there to be more pro-life doctors in this field. Feels like there are so few and God we pray for a sense in the pro-life community that we need as many friends as we can get and so we don’t need to make any enemies of the people alongside us in this field we have plenty enemies on the outside and don’t need any on the inside of the pro-life movement so we just pray that we work together in the most beautiful way with everyone who’s like minded. In Jesus name, amen amen.