Missouri couple demonstrates babies come from embryos
No cloning experiments for these two little ones
JEFFERSON CITY – They walk. They jabber. They’re into everything, and they’re busy all the time. They’re “snowflake babies” – babies who were adopted while they were still embryos.
Ian Robert and EmmaLyn Louisa Burnett were born to Robert and Anna Burnett of Kansas City Aug. 2, 2005. In their first 14 months, the babies have already been to the White House and met the president of the United States.
The Burnetts had tried for five years to become pregnant, but their efforts had been disappointing. As they neared their 40s, they made plans for in vitro fertilization; but, in the end, it had to be cancelled.
Anna said the years of wanting a baby and not being able to have one was the hardest thing she has ever been through. “Sometimes you feel like you can do something yourself, but everything we tried didn’t work out.”
Then Robert, a sales engineer for Nortel, heard about Snowflake Babies on the Focus on the Family radio program.
The Burnetts contacted Nightlight Christian Adoptions in Fullerton, Calif. (www.snowflakes.org), and began the process of adopting an embryo. Their application included a biography, pictures, and a letter.
These, and two other applications, were presented to the donor couple – a couple with frozen embryos left over from their own in vitro process. The donors chose the Burnetts.
When the Burnetts received a portfolio from the donor couple, it included a letter saying they wanted their children to know that there was always another family that loved them.
Shortly after the two families were matched up, Anna spent a month in Romania helping a missionary friend at a maternity home. It was there that God taught her she could love a baby that was not genetically her own.
The implantation of two embryos into Anna’s womb launched her into motherhood. The babies were born eight weeks early, EmmaLyn weighing in at 3 pounds, 4 ounces, and Ian weighing 4 pounds, 14 ounces.
Their names have great meaning for the Burnetts. EmmaLyn was named for her two grandmothers, Emma and Marilyn, and her middle name, Louisa, was the name of one of the babies in the maternity home in Romania. Ian’s name means “gift of God.”
The babies were in the hospital for a month, during which the Burnetts, longtime Christians, received much help and support from their families and from their River of Life church family. One lady still visits the Burnett home every Thursday to help with the children.
The biological parents have been supportive also. They attended the babies’ dedication service, along with their two children. (The family visited the Burnetts again this summer and decided it was time to tell the children of their biological brother and sister. Their 4-year-old responded, “Yeah, I’m a big sister.” Their 6-year-old concluded, “We need to move closer so we can see them more often.”)
Anna, a former music teacher, was content to be a stay-at-home mom until the cloning question came up in Missouri. She wanted people to know that “adoption is an option” and felt strongly that embryos should not be used for experimentation.
“I wanted to do something in Missouri to help. I handed out flyers at the primary and I googled (searched the Internet) and found all these agencies, like Vision America,” she says. She began contacting them with offers to help.
In the meantime, the White House contacted their embryo adoption agency with an invitation to bring families to appear with President George W. Bush when he vetoed a law that would have furthered the cause of embryonic stem cell research. The agency forwarded the invitation to all its families, and about 20 families responded.
Robert and Anna attended a press conference in Washington prior to the White House meeting and were told by a U.S. Senator, “You put faces on the issue.”
“At the White House, some families were taken up a set of stairs and some were taken to another room. We were in the other room,” said Anna. “We were briefed on what was going to happen. They wanted us sitting on the podium, right behind the president.”
After the ceremony, they met the president in the Blue Room and were able to talk with him for about a minute. “EmmaLyn loves people. When the president talked to her, she reached out and touched him on the face,” she said.
The Burnetts and their Snowflake Babies have appeared at two Vision America rallies, one in Springfield and one in the Kansas City suburb of Raytown.
One pastor approached them at the Springfield rally and told them, “Seeing your babies was the most powerful thing of the whole night.”
In recent months, several pro-life organizations have contacted them with requests to share their story. The Burnetts keep repeating their message that adoption is an option.
“God has blessed us,” Anna said. “If you persevere, God will give you the family He wants you to have.”