Family turns to Facebook to find home for unused embryos

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — One Middle Tennessee family’s decision has started a conversation across the country.

When Angel and Jeff Watts experienced trouble having children, they turned to in vitro fertilization. Angel gave birth to two sets of twins, ages 3 years and 16 months.

“It’s wonderful,” Angel Watts said. “It’s a true blessing.”

The couple then found themselves with six unused embryos. They placed the embryos at the National Embryo Donation Center in Knoxville. Angel figured someone would take the embryos within six months. Two years later, the embryos remain frozen, she said.
“What I didn’t realize is there’s a lot of competition out there,” Angel Watts said. “That center has over 300 sets of embryos.”

Watts also expressed sorrow for the children conceived through closed donor arrangements – kids who may never find their biological parents.

Frustrated, Watts turned to Facebook. She outlined the kind of recipients she envisioned.

“We are seeking a couple in the area that has roots in TN,” Angel Watts wrote. “We prefer someone who has been married several years in a steady loving relationship, strong Christian background,” the post continued.

“I made sure to let people know no gimmicks, no games,” Angel Watts said on Monday.

The family posted the request in December. Less than three weeks later, the Watts found their fit in the Galloways.

“Meeting them and seeing their children and seeing how they interact with the family and their interests as a whole is very similar to my husband I,” said Rayn Galloway, 26, of Cookeville.

Fertility experts have noticed a recent upswing in open donations, but even this method surprised some doctors.

“If it works and people are careful, it will work well,” said Dr. Glenn Weitzman with the Nashville Fertility Center. “That’s part of our generation and our new age, the ability to communicate without having to go through what might be considered normal channels.”

Watts said she wants her children to know the Galloway’s children.

“We will be meeting them,” Angel Watts said. “All along, so they’ll know us, but they won’t know us as parents. They may know us as people helped give them genetic material for them to come about but they will definitely not know us as parents.”

Fertility doctors said in Tennessee, very few laws cover arrangements involving open embryo donations and social media.

Experts stressed counseling for anyone going through open donation. Such communication allows families to make agreements and “get on the same page.”

In this case, Rayn Galloway hopes to transfer the embryos by May.