a different kind of custody battle: who gets the embryos in a divorce?

Petri dish, meet embryos. Photo: Source.
A little over 2 years ago, in January of 2010, I was diagnosed with uterine cancer. While the gynecological oncologist wanted to perform surgery right away, my immediate instinct was not to save myself, but to save my future kids. Fertility preservation, a term I'd never heard of until then, came into our lives. Fertility preservation is used mainly by cancer patients who, when faced chemo or another issue that will limit their fertility, freeze their sperm or eggs for future use.

Thankfully, through modern technology and low interest rates on three loans, IVF worked out as an option for us. I put off the hysterectomy two and half months in order to go though the IVF regimen of pokes and prods, drugs and intravaginal ultrasounds. Rather than just freeze my eggs, we decided to fertilize them with my husband's sperm. We ended up with 6 viable embryos, or kidscicles as I like to call them.

2 years ago, on April 14, the docs performed a successful full hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. Since, at that point, I'd had cancer twice as well as PCOS, I donated my ovaries to two different universities so they could be used for research. One of my ovaries went to a study at Northwestern, and another went to UCSD here in San Diego.

6 months ago, I filed for divorce from IT Geek, my husband of 7 years. Today, my divorce is final. (Yes, Tax Day, and yes, I work for a tax software company. The irony's not lost on me.) We split everything 50/50, per California law, but there was one small issue the mediators didn't quite know what to do with:

Our embryos.

It's a new 21st century type of custody battle. When a couple who's gone through IVF and fertility preservation divorces, who gets the embryos? It's not cut and dry. The implications for them fall into a legal grey area. Not even getting into the philosophical debate of when life begins, there's the fact that I did not want to destroy the embryos. IT Geek wanted to keep them alive (frozen, whatever), too, and luckily for me there was no "battle" over them at all. We settled quite amicably about them, in fact.

Even talking about them made me tear up, though, during the mediation. Where we netted out was that I get "custody" of them for now. If and when I decide to move forward with thawing them and growing them into little people, I have to loop IT Geek back in so we can decide how to do everything from there.

Though honestly, since it's $80,000 for lawyer, surrogate, and medical fees, unless I win the lottery those kidscicles will stay put where they are.


Babydreams2011 said…
Move them to Texas...

Legal fees:$4,000

Embryo Storage: $400 (for a year)

FET cycle: $1300

Surro legal: $500-750?

Surrogate Comp: $18-22K

Medical fees for the pregnancy are covered by surrogates insurance aside from hospital and OB deductible

Sooo about $35,000 going high on estimate.. Just sayin :) gonna message you in a few!
CaliforniaKara said…
Thanks for the heads up! Still need to win that lottery. :)
Unknown said…
My special thanks to Babydreams, Texas is the right place for me..Hysterectomy

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