Growing Number of Conservative Christians Adopting Embryos

In December 2010, Anna Fluhrer was born. She had been adopted by Gabriel and Callie Fluhrer, but not through an adoption agency or similar organization that put them in contact with a pregnant woman. No, the Fluhrers adopted their daughter when she was still encased in liquid nitrogen, before they knew whether she would be a boy or a girl, or whether she would grow at all.

They adopted Anna when she was still an embryo.

Conservative Christians have been on the front lines against the anti-abortion movement, often being in lockstep with the Catholic Church. But for them, being pro-life does not end after they go home from picketing an abortion clinic. That is why embryo adoption is picking up steam among many evangelical Christians, including Gabriel Fluhrer, who is the public relations and publishing coordinator for the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals. He says, "It's doing the hard work of adopting the orphans around the world, whether embryos or orphans living in China."

Embryo adoption gained popularity under former President George W. Bush, who invited children who were adopted as embryos to the White House. These children were dubbed "snowflakes" by the White House during an event held in 2006. In the span of ten years, federal funding promoted embryo adoption, and Evangelical organizations received the majority of the $21 million doled out. The program was suspended in July due to lack of interest but, leaders say, word is getting out about embryo adoption.

People who choose to undergo in-vitro fertilization usually choose to create multiple embryos and then select the healthiest ones to implant. Some families choose to throw the remaining embryos away, or to implant them at a time when they would be unlikely to survive. The families that choose to save the remainder of the embryos can pay over $400 a year to store them in facilities. It is estimated that there are 60,000 embryos in storage in the United States, though it is unclear how many are available for adoption.

In 2004, there were between 1,500 and 1,750 embryo adoptions that took place in the country. By 2010, that number had nearly doubled, and attitudes about it seem to be changing, according to Fluhrer.

"The earliest Christians were distinguished by their care for those society discarded," he wrote on the blog Reformation 21. "Embryo adoption seems to me a seminal way to do such a thing here in the third millennium."

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