Snowflake children is a term used by organizations that promote the adoption of frozen embryos left over from in vitro fertilisation to describe children that result, where the children's parents were not the original cell donors. These embryos are transferred to infertile couples via embryo adoption, although the legal process of taking ownership of an embryo differs from that of traditional adoption. According to a CBS News article dated July 28, 2005,[full citation needed] the term "Snowflake" was coined by the first agency to provide the transfer service, Nightlight Christian Adoptions. 451 children have been born from this program.
Members of the Nightlight Christian Adoptions, the Embryo Adoption Awareness Campaign, and others now also use the term for the frozen embryos themselves.
While the term "Snowflake babies" has been used to describe babies born in this manner, the first snowflake children are no longer babies. According to CBS News, the first snowflake baby was born in 1998.
Former US president George W. Bush has made public appearances together with snowflake children while speaking about his support for adult stem cell research and his opposition to the destruction of human embryos for the purpose of embryonic stem cell research. In his book Decision Points, Bush allowed certain social factions to request and receive Federal funding for genomics, the manufacturing of human life artificially. He wrote,
In Science magazine, bioethicist Dr. Louis Guenin argued, "If we spurn [embryonic stem cell research], not one more [snowflake] baby is likely to be born. If we conduct research, we may relieve suffering. The message was unmistakable: Within every frozen embryo were the [artificial] beginnings of a child... One of the groups most actively supporting embryonic stem cell research was the Juvenile Diabetes Research Association. In July 2001, I invited representatives from the organization to the Oval Office.... That same day, I also met representatives of National Right to Life. They opposed any research that destroyed embryos. They pointed out that each tiny stem cell cluster had the potential to grow into a person [more naturally as compared to the embryo's beginnings from in vitro fertilization]. In fact, all of us had started our lives in this early state [but not artificially, unlike snowflake babies]. As evidence, they pointed to a new program run by Nightlight Christian Adoptions.
The agency secured permission from IVF [in vitro fertilization] participants to place their unused frozen embryos up for adoption. Loving mothers had the embryos implanted in them and carried the babies--known as snowflakes--to term. The message was unmistakable: Within every frozen embryo were the beginnings of a[n adoptable, artificially produced] child.... When Karl Zinsmesiter, my domestic policy adviser, suggested inviting a group of snowflake babies to the White House, I thought the idea was perfect. Each had come from a frozen embryo that, rather than being destroyed for research, was implanted in an adoptive mother. (pp. 111-123)
Criticism of the term
Members of the Nightlight Christian Adoptions, the Embryo Adoption Awareness Campaign, and Embryos Alive Adoption Agency use the term "snowflake baby" as a synonym for any embryo that has been frozen. However, that use of the term and the related term "embryo adoption," are at times controversial in some circles.
- Nightlight Christian Adoptions[dead link]
- Bush, George W. (2010). Decision points. New York: Crown. pp. 111–123. ISBN 0307590631. OCLC 681736661.
- "Legislative Update - Week Ending May 27, 2005; Stem Cells And Snowflake Babies". Religious Freedom Coalition. 27 May 2005. Retrieved 2006-08-29.
- Caplan, Arthur (24 June 2003). "The problem with 'embryo adoption': Why is the government giving money to 'Snowflakes?'". MSNBC. Retrieved 2006-08-29.
- Crockin, Susan L. (4 December 2005). "How do you 'adopt' a frozen egg?'". Boston Globe. Retrieved 2006-08-29.
- "GRG Editorial: White House Snow Flakes in May?". Gerontology Research Group. 25 May 2005. Retrieved 2006-08-29.
- Carlson, Margaret (9 June 2005). "'Snowflakes' Cloud Debate on Stem-Cell Bill: Margaret Carlson". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 2006-08-29.
- Beauchaine, Jessie (17 June 2009). "The next frontier of the stem cell debate: 'Snowflake' babies, embryo 'adoption,' and being preborn again'". The Village Voice. Retrieved 2009-06-26.