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Hayden, our beloved first born, died when she was 126 days old, having spent the majority of her life in a stiff hospital crib, mostly too weak to move. The genetics doctors said she was one in ten million with a disease so rare they told us we were more likely to have won the lottery. She died a few weeks after her eventual diagnosis, dying in my arms while I sang her to sleep forever.  In those early days, I tried to die too, even begged my husband to take his hands to my neck, to wring the pain out of my soul.  Now, pieces from those months in the ICU and the messy aftermath get somewhat mangled in my mind. Whole chunks are gone, from well-meaning visitors with fruit bouquets to the faces of timid residents, peaking a glimpse at the dying baby and her demanding mother. A lottery win I would have much preferred.

When parts of it come to me now, eight years later, they still sting, in unrelated moments like driving in the rain, reminding me of the tears that fell from my sister's face as she held my daughter, her only niece, one last time.

I can still recall a phone call to my grandmother, frantic on the phone, a leak in the roof and she can’t stand the thought that her first great grandchild would have to go to Heaven alone.  Four days later she was dead, just five days before our sweet baby made her celestial exit. Massive stroke they said, lung cancer too, no chance for recovery.  She made sure they would go to Heaven together. 

We spent weeks and then months in free fall.  What do we do now?  How can we forgive each other?  Can we ever be happy again?  I knew immediately I wanted another child, another chance.  My husband was resistant at first, scared I think mostly and then later, unsure of how to proceed.  We had some options if we wanted a healthy baby, they said.  Adoption, foster, or there was one other way- in vitro fertilization and a laser biopsy of each of our embryos.  We thought we would give IVF a chance, and if that did not work, we would pursue adoption.  After months of painstakingly following medication regimens, waiting for our embryos to travel to Florida and back, we finally had two viable embryos!  A boy and girl, the embryologist told us excitedly, in pristine condition.  Charlotte came easy to us, and she is now a mighty four, and loves us so big and deeply. She brings us humor, and joy, and happiness daily and we love going on this adventure of life with her.  

A few weeks ago, we attempted to transfer Charlotte’s brother to complete our family.  All ready to proceed, the doctor came into the room with a solemn face and told us simply that the embryo had dissolved, that these things sometimes happen.  

We are so hopeful to grow our family, and after doing some online research, a family friend told us about embryo adoption.  We loved the idea of adopting an embryo, and raising a child from birth.  I love the feeling that we are helping another family, who clearly wanted and loved and cherished their children, raise their biological children from embryos that they may not have been able to use.  It does indeed take a village.  We met a family who went through two successful embryo adoptions with Nightlight Snowflake Adoptions.  After speaking with the organization, we felt good about the process and began to feel hope for the possibility of more children again.  The whole program cost for embryo adoption is around $15,000.  Unfortunately, we have not been able to save for this adoption as it has only just recently become part of the plan.  We are humbly asking for any donations that anyone would want to give.


    Thank you very much for your time.

Allie, Tom, Hayden and Charlotte Bell

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