After multiple failed pregnancies, Maria Lancaster miscarried again when she was 46. At age 47, however, she finally gave birth to a daughter, though her pregnancy did not come through in vitro fertilization, or egg or sperm donation.
Rather, Lancaster is a "snowflake mom," Ozy reports, having adopted an embryo in order to become pregnant and have a child.
There were believed to be more than 600,000 frozen embryos being stored in the U.S. in 2011, reports L.A. Weekly, which terms embryo adoption a "sort of by-product of IVF" — making use of embryos left over after women successfully undergo the procedure. A rep for the nearly 20-year-old Snowflakes Embryo Adoption and Donation program — the first embryo adoption agency to open its doors, per L.A. Weekly — says at least 1,000 snowflake babies have been born over the years.
Where IVF can cost as much as $20,000 and still have less than a 4 percent success rate with women over 44, per Ozy, embryo adoption costs about $3,500 and gives a woman in her 40s a 50/50 shot of becoming pregnant.
"If you're doing embryo adoption, age doesn't really matter as long as you have a uterus," an OB-GYN tells Ozy. Another doctor tells L.A. Weekly that her clinic at USC transfers adopted embryos into women up to 53 years old; the American Society for Reproductive Medicine recommends age 55 be the cutoff.
"It is becoming more and more common, but there's a very small minority of people who want to donate their embryos," an attorney tells the Chicago Tribune.
Ozy has more on the process — and how much the government has spent promoting it.
(In related news, these human embryos grew outside the womb for 13 days.)