FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – When it comes to starting or expanding a family, there are many options to choose from such as embryo adoption, and one Fort Wayne family is sharing their experience.

Jennifer, who is in an open adoption case and would not like her last name shared, and her husband Erik are currently going through the process of embryo adoption through Nightlight Christian Adoptions Organization and the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program. Jennifer says her husband has cystic fibrosis, which means that for them to have a child naturally, they would have to undergo procedures and go through the in vitro fertilization, or IVF process.

“Initially, we had decided that we just weren’t going to have kids because it just didn’t feel like an option for us, but then we found out about the embryo adoption,” Jennifer said.

Mark Mellinger, Marketing and Development Director of the National Embryo Donation Center, says embryo adoption, formally known as embryo donation, is when remaining embryos from IVF after a couple has built their family are donated to have another chance at life with another family. Mellinger says the process has many similarities to the regular adoption process, with a few differences.

“It’s the only way that you can become pregnant with your adopted child, and that’s what we see at the National Embryo Donation Center all the time,” Mellinger said.

“I think embryo adoption is unique because it’s a way to honor life that’s been created for the purpose of life and ultimately the embryos were created out of love,” Jennifer said.

Another difference is cost. First transfer embryo adoptions at the National Embryo Donation Center range in cost from $10,500 to $12,000. Experts say typical cost for other forms of adoption or assisted reproductive medicine varies and can cost around $40,000.

“Embryo adoption can be a really affordable means of growing your family, especially for those couples for whom the pregnancy experience is really important,” Mellinger said. “It ends up being the answer that they never knew about.”

Jennifer says she first learned about embryo adoption through a friend, prompting her to look more into the process. She recommends families that are considering this to do research as well. She also notes that it’s not just for married couples or those in a relationship.

“It’s estimated that there’s approximately a million embryos that are just stuck in a frozen state, and for someone to say ‘I’m ready to take that step as a parent,’ I think any child would appreciate given the chance to have life,” Jennifer said.

Since Jennifer and her husband will have an open adoption, they will be able to have contact with their placing family. Also, during the embryo adoption process, adopting families do go through the vetting process as well.

To follow Jennifer and her husband Erik’s journey or donate to their family, click here.