Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Embryo Adoption Kids' Book

There aren’t many books about embryo donation. As children born in this way age, though, there will be a need for books to explain their stories to them.

IVF nurse (and former IVF patient) Janice Grimes saw that parents of children born in unique ways were encouraged to share their children’s story of origin with them; but how do you talk about in vitro fertilization or embryo donation with a four year old? In answering that question, Grimes wrote one of the only kids’ books to introduce the subject of embryo donation. Embryo donation is also sometimes called embryo adoption, and regardless of what it is called, it shares much in common with adoption.

Grimes has a teddy bear family introduce the topic. The child asks, “Please tell me the story about your wish for a baby.” The parent explains in somewhat specific terms about infertility.  He then explains that because “Mommy and Daddy can’t make a baby,” another man and woman would help them by giving them an embryo. The language the book uses isn’t particularly scientific, but seems to be age-appropriate.  Fertilization is described as “a special cell from Mommy and a special cell from Daddy” joining together “to make a baby [which] then grows in a safe place inside Mommy.” The embryo donation is described as another man and woman making such a tiny baby and giving “us this baby to have as our very own.” The book then describes the embryo’s stay in the new mother’s womb, birth, and first years with the family.

Embryo donations and embryo adoptions have been going on for more than a decade, and Grimes does an admirable job of starting the kids’ book library on the topic. The illustrations are friendly, the story is happy, and the quite complicated topic of embryo donation is made understandable to a kid.

There are a few items to consider. The book uses the term “embryo donation” and does not mention any contact with the baby’s genetic parents. Some people who pursue embryo donation go through agencies which use home studies, and which encourage open relationships between genetic families and birth families (notice the slight tweak in traditional adoption language!)The book affirms that the baby given while an embryo is the child being read to, but I can imagine a child wondering “why was I given away?” This isn’t reason to avoid the book, but it is something to think through before you read it to your child. With the understanding that you might need to edit some pieces aloud as you read it, this is a good book for your library if you’re considering embryo adoption/donation. It’s also a good book if you just want to educate yourself and your kids on something new.

Note: Janice Grimes has written many books on one template: each book has the same illustrations, but the text differs from edition to edition, and editions address various circumstances of birth, including IVF, sperm donation, egg donation, surrogacy, and babies carried for male parents. Separate editions of books exist for single-parent homes. This review is of the edition focusing on embryo donation / embryo adoption. Each book has the same title, so ordering it from third-party sellers on Amazon is not a surefire way to get the edition you want. I’d recommend ordering it from her site: www.xyandme.com

What unique kids' books have you found? You can leave your answers in the comments!


  1. Thank you for introducing me to this author. My oldest daughter was conceived through IVF and I've been thinking a lot about how to share her story with her. I will definitely be checking out that website for our version of the story.

  2. Thanks for your comment. I wasn't sure how well this book fit into this website, even though it's been an important book for me to find. I'm really glad that it was helpful.

  3. What a cool idea the author had to make all these books from the same template!

  4. It's pretty interesting, isn't it! It does let her tailor the story to many different situations which might not otherwise have a book written for them!


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