Long Lost Page 62
I wasn\'t sure what to say here. I wondered if she saw the resemblance, if maybe some of the pieces were coming together for her too.
’’That\'s the girl I saw,’’ I said again.
She shook her head.
I knew the answer, but I asked the question anyway: ’’What\'s wrong?’’
’’That\'s not Miriam,’’ she said.
She looked down again, wiped her eyes. ’’Maybe, I don\'t know, maybe if Miriam had some facial surgery and it\'s been a lot of years. Looks change, right? She was seven the last time I saw her. . . .’’
Her eyes jumped back to my face, hoping to find some reassurance. I offered her none. I realized that the time had come, dived in headfirst.
’’Miriam is dead,’’ I said.
The blood slowly drained from her face. My heart shattered anew. I wanted to reach out to her, but I knew that it would be the wrong move. She swam through it, tried to stay rational, knew how important this all was. ’’But that phone call . . . ?’’
’’Your name has come up in some chatter. My guess is, they\'re trying to draw you out.’’
She looked back down at the picture. ’’So it was all a hoax?’’
’’But you just said . . .’’ Terese was trying so hard to stay with me. I tried to think of the best way to say this and realized that there was none. I would have to let her see it the way I had.
’’Let\'s go back a few months,’’ I said, ’’when Rick found out he had Huntington\'s disease.’’
She just looked at me.
’’What would he have done first?’’ I asked.
’’Have his son tested.’’
’’So he also went to CryoHope. I kept thinking that he went there to find a cure.’’
’’No,’’ I said. ’’Do you know a Dr. Everett Sloan?’’
’’No. Wait, I saw the name on the brochure. He works for CryoHope.’’
’’Right,’’ I said. ’’He also took over the practice of Dr. Aaron Cox.’’
She said nothing.
’’I just found out his name,’’ I said. ’’But Cox was your ob-gyn. When you and Rick had Miriam.’’
Terese just stared at me.
’’You and Rick had serious fertility issues. You told me about how difficult it was until, well, what you called a medical miracle, though it\'s rather common. In vitro fertilization.’’
She still wouldn\'t or couldn\'t talk.
’’In vitro, by definition, is where eggs are fertilized by sperm outside the womb and then the embryo is transferred into the woman\'s uterus. You mentioned taking Pergonal to up your egg count. This happens in almost every instance. And then there are the extra embryos. For the past twenty-plus years, the embryos have been frozen. Sometimes they were thawed for use in stem cell research. Sometimes they were used when the couple wanted to try again. Sometimes, when one spouse died, the other would use it, or if you\'ve just found out you have cancer and still want a kid. You know all this. There are complex legal issues involving divorce and custody, and many embryos are simply destroyed or stay frozen while a couple decides.’’
I swallowed because by now she had to see where I was going with this. ’’What happened to your extra embryos?’’
’’It was our fourth try,’’ Terese said. ’’None of the embryos had taken. You can\'t imagine how crushing that was. And when it finally worked, it was such a wonderful happy surprise. . . .’’ Her voice drifted off. ’’We only had two more embryos. We were going to save them in case we wanted to try again, but then my fibroids came up and, well, there was no way I could get pregnant again. Dr. Cox told me that the embryos hadn\'t survived the freezing process anyway.’’
’’He lied,’’ I said.
She looked back at the picture of the blond girl.
’’There is a charity called Save the Angels. They are against any sort of embryonic stem cell research or destruction of embryos in any way, shape, or form. For nearly two decades they\'ve lobbied for the embryos to be adopted, if you will. It makes sense. There are hundreds of thousands of stored embryos, and there are couples who could conceive with those embryos and give them a life. The legal issues are complicated. Most states don\'t allow embryo adoptions because, in a sense, the birth mother is no more than a surrogate. Save the Angels wants the stored embryos implanted in infertile women.’’
She saw it now. ’’Oh my God . . .’’
’’I don\'t know all the details. One of Dr. Cox\'s residents was a big supporter of Save the Angels, I guess. Do you remember a Dr. Jiménez?’’
Terese shook her head.
’’Save the Angels pressured Cox just as he was starting up CryoHope. I don\'t know if he didn\'t want the press or if there was a payoff or if he was sympathetic to the Save the Angels cause. Cox probably realized that there were embryos that had no chance of being used, so, well, why not? Why let them stay frozen or be destroyed? So he gave them up for adoption.’’
’’So this girl’’ her eyes stayed on the picture ’’this is my daughter?’’
’’Biologically speaking, yes.’’
She just stared at the face, not moving.
’’When Dr. Sloan took over six years ago, he found out what had been done. He was in a tough spot. For a while he debated just keeping quiet but felt that was both illegal and medically unethical. So he took something of an in-between route. He contacted Rick and asked permission to allow the embryos to be adopted. I don\'t know what must have gone through Rick\'s mind, but I guess when the choice was having embryos destroyed or giving them a chance at life, he chose life.’’
’’Wouldn\'t they have to contact me too?’’
’’You had already given that permission way back when. Rick hadn\'t. And no one knew where you were. So Rick signed off on it. I don\'t know if it was legal or not. But the deed had already been done anyway. Dr. Sloan was just trying to clean up the mess now, in case there was something out there that screening might help with. And in this case, there was. When Rick found out he had Huntington\'s disease, he wanted to make sure the family who\'d adopted the embryos knew about his medical condition. So he went to CryoHope. Dr. Sloan told him the truth that the actual embryos had been implanted years ago via Save the Angels. He didn\'t know who the adoptive parents were, so he told Rick that he would make a request to get the information with Save the Angels. My guess is, Rick didn\'t want to wait.’’