After Struggling With Infertility For Years, Embryo Adoption Gave This Couple The Family They Always Hoped For

"After she was born I bawled my eyes out because I just finally felt at peace.”

Liana and Jeff Elwell-Landry are a couple who dreamt of starting a family of their own.  But when the time came to start planning, they were devastated to learn that, due to infertility issues, their dream might never become a reality. That moment hit Liana especially hard because, as an adopted child, she'd always wanted a biological family of her own. "Infertility is a very lonely place. There was a lot of tears. There was a lot of stress. There was a lot of frustration and anger," Jeff told PEOPLE in a video interview for their Family Portrait series. "... Seeing her [Liana] not being able to have that dream was hard."


Over the next five years, the couple sought alternative ways to start their family. Nothing seemed like a viable option for them, until they stumbled across embryo adoption. "The more I read about it, the more I was like, 'This seems like the perfect fit for us.' Because you get to not only adopt this child, but you get to carry your own child. You get to give birth to your own child. My mind was blown," Liana said. 

Embyro adoption combines elements of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and traditional adoption. When a couple goes through IVF, they create multiple embryos, some of which never get used by the couple to build their family. The remaining embryos are cryo-preserved (an estimated more than 600,000 embryos are currently in frozen storage in the United States). 

According to the Embryo Adoption Awareness Center, "When couples have these unused embryos in cryostorage, some believe their only options are the ones that ultimately destroy their embryos. However, what they may not know is that they can choose the life-giving option of donating the remaining embryos for adoption — allowing another couple the experience of pregnancy and childbirth." Donated embryos are transferred into the adoptive mother's womb through a medical procedure, and then the pregnancy proceeds as normal. In this way, adoptive mothers are still able to go through the childbirth process. 

That's how the Elwell-Landrys ended up with their two-year-old daughter Olivia. "After she was born I bawled my eyes out because I just finally felt at peace," Liana said. "We had our family."


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