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Couples battle over 2 frozen embryos

WASHINGTON (BP)–Two Roman Catholic couples will meet May 17 with a mediator in an effort to resolve a dispute over the destiny of a pair of frozen human embryos.

Edward and Kerry Lambert of Pleasanton, Calif., and Patrick and Jennifer McLaughlin of suburban St. Louis, Mo., will meet with a lawyer in Santa Barbara, Calif., to see if they can come to an agreement outside of court regarding the tiny human beings, the St. Louis Globe-Democrat reported. Both couples agreed not to pursue lawsuits they already have filed to give mediation a chance.

In February 2009, the Lamberts agreed to give four embryos to the McLaughlins. Two were implanted in Jennifer McLaughlin’s uterus in May, and she gave birth to Sarah and Anna in January.

In April, the McLaughlins learned the Lamberts wanted the two remaining embryos returned to their custody because another couple had expressed interest in using them. Since then, though, the other family has withdrawn from adopting them, the newspaper said.

McLaughlin views the two remaining embryos as siblings to her daughters, and she intends to have the others implanted in about a year, following her doctor’s advice.

“I adopted all four embryos with the intention of legally and morally giving birth,” she said, according to the Globe-Democrat.

The Lamberts say the agreement with the McLaughlins was only for a year and they have the right to determine the disposition of the remaining embryos, the newspaper reported. If mediation doesn’t work, then the lawsuits will come into play.

The McLaughlins have adopted five other children — four from Russia and one from the United States — but Jennifer wanted to bring a child to term and looked into embryo adoption, the Globe-Democrat said. Through a firm called “Miracles Waiting,” she found the Lamberts.

About 500,000 embryos are being stored in the United States, the newspaper said, and embryo adoption is a relatively new option for parents.
Compiled by Baptist Press Washington bureau chief Tom Strode and staff writer Erin Roach.

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