Couple keen to swap boy embryo for girl embryo
WHEN Jodie and James read that a Brooklyn actress wanted to swap her girl embryo for a boy embryo, they could barely believe their eyes.
The couple, who has asked that their last names and location not be revealed, desperately want a daughter to complete their family. They have two sons.
Now they are willing to trade their one existing boy embryo, frozen at an IVF storage facility in Pennsylvania, for the girl embryo of Lisa and Ray (whose names have been changed for privacy reasons.)
"I like the sound of Lisa's embryo," said Jodie, 49, who has pined for a daughter for eight years.
Said her 47-year-old husband, James: "It's pretty early days," before adding, "We want to get ourselves prepared."
The potential transaction resulted from The Post's viral article last Sunday which described how Lisa had posted on Facebook support groups an offer to swap her one remaining girl embryo in return for a boy.
"We want to complete our family with a son," posted the actress. "We have a quality female embryo. Would you consider a trade?"
The couple read The Post story and were among a number of interested people who responded to her plea.
Now they hope Lisa will exchange her girl embryo - biologically hers and Ray's - for their boy, who was conceived with a donor egg and James's sperm at a New Jersey clinic in 2013.
"The concern that I have is that they [Lisa and Ray] might think I am too old," admitted Jodie. "But I'm young at heart.
"Plus we're are a good, middle-class family with a four-level townhouse."
Jodie had no trouble conceiving her sons, now 12 and 10. However, as she started trying for another baby when her youngest child was 2, she was diagnosed with fertility problems. "James's sperm wasn't exactly swimming very well either," she quipped.
Finally, in 2013, they decided to try using a donor egg with James' sperm, which resulted in the boy they now have on ice.
"I was devastated it was a boy," said Jodie. "It wasn't a tough decision not to go ahead and implant the boy. It just didn't seem right."
Instead they resolved to pay $395 a year to have the embryo stored at the Sher Institute for Reproductive Medicine (SIRM) center in New Jersey. Last year, when SIRM closed that branch, the embryo was moved to the Fairfax Cryobank in Philadelphia.
Now they are pinning their hopes on Lisa and Ray agreeing to a trade.
"I had the two boys and always thought I would have a girl," said Jodie. "I thought it would complete the family more than anything. It became really important."
The health and safety manager treasures a white onesie with flowers on it that she was given. She aches for a daughter to wear it.
"It would be very nice to have someone to share things with which boys just don't get," she added. "It would be very nice not to have nothing but fart jokes at the table all the time. That'd be great."
However, she struck a note of caution. "If I were to pick a really girlie thing to do with her, she might not like it," added Jodie. "Our elder child loves dance and has an aptitude for it. If she decided she had an aptitude or talent for something else - baseball or whatever - we would encourage her."
As for trading an embryo made from his sperm for an embryo conceived by strangers, James has no issues.
"My boys are the boys who they are partly because of my presence," he said. "It's the love and support I have given them rather than the fact I was there 12 years ago on a particular night.
"I would be the same presence for my daughter, whether I was related to her or not."
The couple plan to tell their putative girl about the swap as soon as she is old enough to understand.
"We would be fairly open right from the outset," said Jodie.
Asked if he would worry that the children in the transaction might feel rejected by their original parents, James is philosophical. "The world is a lot more complex than it was," he said. "You can explain to even a small child their differences.
"If they were chosen, it's more of an important message than if someone rejected them because they didn't meet some criteria. Instead they were chosen for their unique, special characteristics.
The duo is aware of the backlash the deal might cause. In 2014, Jodie was thrown out of a web-based support group for IVF families because she posted that she was looking for a female embryo.
"I proposed sharing a cycle where if somebody had boys and wanted girls, we could share," she remembered. "There were a lot of insulting comments. There was a lot of stuff about, dare I say, eugenics and people basically calling me Hitler for trying to design my own master race."
Undeterred, the couple said they didn't give much thought to those who might be shocked by their plans.
"I can't imagine anyone would begrudge anyone having a family. You should be able to choose. This isn't the last century," said James.
"Those who don't believe that you should be allowed to swap embryos to get the right gender probably don't even agree with IVF. They are probably people who I wouldn't want to converse with anyway.
"It's a private matter between us and whomever we engage with. It doesn't matter what anyone else says."
When Lisa was told of the offer from James and Jodie, she told The Post, "It's fantastic that the embryo is in the US. It's a step closer to my dream and I would hope that it's a step closer for her, too."
"I know we have some legal hurdles. We have an agreement to work out. I am cautiously optimistic. It's so fresh and I don't want to get my hopes up that it could be this easy."
This originally appeared on New York Post and has been republished with permission.