Testimony Before the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Criminal Justice, Drug Policy and Human Resources by John and Lucinda Borden

Date: 07/17/2001

July 17, 2001

We are John and Lucinda Borden, residents of Fontana, California.  John holds a MBA and is the Director of the Budget and Financial Analysis for the University of Redlands in Redlands, California.  I hold a B.S. from Azusa Pacific University and am Director of Fiscal Services for East San Gabriel Valley Regional Occupational Program.

I was told in 1997 after five years of trying unsuccessfully to conceive that I could not ovulate.  This was devastating for me and difficult for John, albeit John, as a widower, experienced the miracle of childbirth three times.  Over the course of a year, I went through a severe grieving process involving denial, anger, and finally acceptance.

In the last stage of my grieving, John and I began considering traditional adoption as an alternative to conception. I had a few serious reservations.  First, I could not experience pregnancy through child adoption.  My deepest desire was to carry a baby and bond with it.  I also hoped to control its nutritional and other input during the gestational period.  Obviously, this would not be possible with traditional adoption.

Second, I was adopted through a closed adoption in 1965 and wrestled until 1997 with wanting to know about my biological parents.  My adoptive parents strongly opposed this, fearing that I would abandon them.  I began to share the same fear when we considered adoption.  However, when I met my genetic parents in 1997, I realized that the bond I shared with my adoptive family could never be severed.  This assuaged my own fears about an open adoption, designed to acquaint my children with their birth parents and allow them to ask the questions I wanted answered.

Accordingly, John and I decided to apply for an open adoption of a child in July 1999.  We began a home study through Nightlight International Adoptions, the same agency through which I was adopted, and submitted a portfolio on our family, including pictures and an autobiography of ourselves, our family, and our marriage.  We also went through thorough medical, psychological, paternal, and background evaluations.

Then, the agency announced a new service:  embryo adoption.  Because it featured conception, we immediately changed course in favor of it.  After reviewing our home study, Mark and Luke’s genetic parents, Tim and Donna Zane, approved us as adoptive parents.  We also selected them.

The Zanes conceived 10 embryos on or about July 1998.  They froze six embryos for future use, in the event the initial transfer failed.  Mark and Luke’s genetic parents originally intended to terminate them if the embryos proved unnecessary to conceive.  In February 1999, after they gave birth to triplets, they realized they could not destroy their six siblings.  Surveying the internet for a solution, the Zanes stumbled across the Snowflakes Program.

On December 10, 1999, the Zanes entered into a contract with us for an open adoption, a copy of which is attached.  Id.; Ex. A, Contract.  The Zanes authorized us to implant two straws containing three embryos each.  We could not terminate any of the embryos and agreed to advise the adoption agency and the genetic family of the outcome of implantation.  Sadly, during thawing, three of the Zanes’ embryos perished and could not be implanted.

I received two weeks of estrogen shots every three days to prepare my womb for implantation.  Three days before and twelve weeks after implantation, physicians also gave me daily shots of projesterone.  I also had ultrasounds to ensure that my uterus was in good condition.  The actual procedure took minutes.  Then I had to lay idle for a few hours in the office.  The total cost of the procedure, $10,000, was roughly the same as for traditional domestic adoption and much cheaper than traditional international adoption.

On January 31, 2000, three embryos were transferred into my womb.  The embryologist took a picture of Mark, Luke, and their sibling on this date. Ex. B, Photograph.  The following two weeks were the longest in our lives as we waited to find out if they would attach.  On February 14, 2000, Valentine’s Day, a blood test revealed I was pregnant.  We were ecstatic!  At this point we did not know how many children had attached.  HCg tests over the next few weeks were high, but perhaps not high enough for triplets.  On February 28, 2000, we had our first ultrasound and heard two heartbeats.  We grieved for our third child, but rejoiced in Mark and, we were told, Hannah.

John and I began talking and singing to our kids right away.  I felt both children kick for the first time during the first week of June 2000.  I felt flutters before, but this time while laying on the couch Mark lit into me.  I then lay on the other side and felt his sibling.

On September 27, 2000, I delivered twins at 36 ½ weeks by C-section.  Ex. C, Photograph.  Mark and, it turned out, Luke were born.  In keeping with our agreement with the Zanes, their birth certificates read “Mark and Luke Borden.” Ex. D, Birth Certificate.  The Zanes relinquished all parental rights over them.

Watching the twins mature has been fun and educational.  Ex. E, Photograph.  They have interacted with each other since birth.  Luke has a contagious laugh.  Mark is serious and takes everything into perspective before giving a response.  They have taught me so much about myself, as a woman, wife, and mother.  It is hard to put into words their contribution to our lives.

Like John and Marlene Strege, we have come forward today, despite our serious reservations about the affect of publicity on our family and kids, to plead with you not to approve funding for research that will kill frozen embryos such as Mark and Luke were roughly one and one-half years ago.

We understand and share the passion many calling for embryo research have to find rapid medical remedies for serious diseases.  My adoptive mother died from complications related to lupus and my grandmother died from brain cancer.  John’s first wife perished from breast cancer.  We have suffered terrible tragedy due to disease.  However, we have also experienced unparalleled joy at the birth of Mark and Luke.  We are confident that my mother and grandmother would never have sacrificed our children for their therapy.

Nor do we think any such sacrifice is necessary for medical progress.  It is clear that the advances possible with adult, placenta, and umbilical stem cells are in their infancy.  On the other hand, recent articles suggest embryo stem cell research is deadly not just for the donor embryo, but also the recipient patient.

Mark and Luke are living rebuttal to the claim that embryos are not people.  They are also testimony to the terrible loss this country will perpetrate if you approve federal funding for embryo stem cell research.  Thousands more children could be adopted by the roughly two million mothers desperately longing to conceive.  Thousands more could lend their talents and skills to this country.  Accordingly, we plead with you not to fund their slaughter.

Thank you.