SALEM -- A cooing 3-month-old named Aubrey and a toddler named Trevor are precious cargo in the stroller pushed by Dan and Kelli Gassman of South Salem.
“We adopted 11 embryos from another family and that’s how we had our two children,” explained Kelli.
“It’s amazing that modern technology can make this happen,” added Dan.
The embryos came from a Virginia family with 3 daughters who had leftover embryos from fertility treatments.
“There are 600,000 frozen embryos in the United States and we wanted some to have the chance to have life,” said Kelli.
A local fertility doctor says he sees five or six couples a year who choose embryo adoption.
“They can be frozen for years but when they’re thawed, most often they’re still healthy and resume normal development,” said Dr. Eugene Stoelk at Northwest Fertility Center.
Kelli and Dan wanted to experience pregnancy. It was one of many reasons they chose to spend $20,000 on embryo adoption, about half the cost of adopting two children traditionally.
“We were also able to get genetic information about the family. We have three generations of medical history,” said Dan.
The Gassmans adopted through the Snowflakes program affiliated with Night Light Christian Adoption.
The family putting the embryos up for adoption chooses a family from a profile.
“Dan calls it the eHarmony of babies,” joked Kelli.
Dr. Stoelk said the Gassmans’ children, although more than a year apart in age, could be considered twins.
“One is born and then another is born at a different time but they were conceived at the same time,” he said.
Aubrey and Trevor were born 15 months apart. Each required three of the 11 adopted embryos.
The other 5 that were unused will be put back up for adoption.
“I thank our genetic family for this gift,” said Kelli. “It sends shivers down my spine that people can be so selfless and want to give people like us a chance to have a family.”