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NKY couple forms family from rare embryo procedure at UC Health

The Stewarts are hoping to remove the stigma of infertility.
Published: Mar. 24, 2022 at 9:17 PM EDT
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CINCINNATI (WXIX) - A Northern Kentucky couple who once thought they would never be able to have children is now a family-of-four thanks to a procedure that’s still fairly uncommon.

Karie and Chris Stewart found out Chris couldn’t father children in 2017 at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

“It was devastating,” Chris said Thursday. “It was a total shock. It’s not something I ever thought would be the case for me.”

The next step for many couples is invitro fertilization, but that was out of the question as well.

“Pretty clear cut,” Karie said. “IVF wasn’t an option.”

So the Stewarts started exploring other options. They chose to adopt frozen embryos from another family.

Embryo adoption is a form of adoption that allows the adoptive mother to carry a genetically unrelated child and still experience pregnancy and delivery. The child comes from a donated embryo often sourced from remaining embryos after a separate IVF procedure.

“I always desired to be pregnant,” Karie said. “We wanted to see my belly grow, to go see our ultrasounds together. We wanted that experience.

It’s a similar process to regular adoption. The Stewarts had to go through a home study before they started the process of adopting.

Embryo adoption is not a common path.

“It’s still very rare,” said Kimberly Tyson, vice president of the agency that matched the Stewarts with the family from whom they adopted their embryos.

Tyson says some adopting couples are like the Stewarts, where IVF isn’t an option. But she’s also seen families choose to adopt embryos because thy carry genetic markers that might cause life-long disorders in their biological children.

“They don’t want to pass on the malady to their child, and so they choose embryo adoption,” she said.

The Stewarts now have two children, ages 3 and 1, both conceived through embryo adoption at UCMC.

They’re opening up about their story to remove the stigma around infertility.

“Normalize talking about it, and then be curious about a solution,” Chris said.

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