Parents who no longer wish to store their youngest children in freezers may now destroy them and have them made into jewelry thanks to Baby Bee Hummingbirds, an Australian keepsake company that recently began advertising its “Embryo Ashes” product.
In an April 30 post on social media, the company declared, “We are absolute experts & true original leaders in Embryo Ashes • DNA Jewelry.” The company also creates jewelry keepsakes from breastmilk, hair from a baby’s first hair cut, first tooth, umbilical cord stump, and placenta.
“I don’t believe there is any other business in the world that creates jewellery from human embryos, and I firmly believe that we are pioneering the way in this sacred art, and opening the possibilities to families around the world,” said company founder Amy McGlade in an article on KidSpot.
The jewelry is made by cremating the remains of embryos, which Baby Bee receives from the embryo’s family in “embryo straws.”
“We are experts in preserving DNA so that it can be set in a jeweler’s grade resin,” McGlade said.
Millions of couples who struggle with infertility have turned to in vitro fertilization (IVF), a process in which children are artificially created in a laboratory, and then later transferred to the mother’s womb. It is not uncommon for couples going in for IVF to have somewhere between 5 and 15 embryos created. After a round of hormonal treatments, a few of these embryos are implanted in the hopes the one or two will survive. Once the couple in question is finished trying to have laboratory-created children, the remaining embryos are often abandoned to a freezer in a state of cryogenic suspended animation. The embryos remain in the freezer until they are either adopted by another couple, donated to science to be experimented upon, or discarded and destroyed.
However storage of the tiny humans can be expensive over time, and many parents, while acknowledging these little embryos are their children, nonetheless struggle with finding the best way to dispose of them.
Belinda Stafford, for instance, was quoted in KidSpot saying, “My embryos were my babies – frozen in time.”
Stafford went on to say, “When we completed our family, it wasn’t in my heart to destroy them.” But destroy them she did, by removing her babies from storage and having them made into a heart-shaped necklace.
“Now they are forever with me in a beautiful keepsake,” she told KidSpot.
Parents commenting on the Baby Bee Hummingbirds post expressed relief that they now have an option for disposing of their little ones that feels sentimental.
In the KidSpot article, McGlade added, “What a better way to celebrate your most treasured gift, your child, than through jewelry?”
Many commenters on the company’s Facebook page agreed, applauding the product as beautiful, heartwarming, and helpful for the grieving process. Others, however, were horrified at what they see as a murderous and dehumanizing practice.
Abolitionist Toby Harmon compared it to the Nazi practice of making soaps and lampshades from the remains of murdered Jews.
“I literally did a double take,” Harmon said of seeing the jewelry advertised. “As I read the comments, I became infuriated at the cold-hearted callousness and dehumanizing remarks.”
To Harmon and other abolitionists, the children in frozen storage are orphans in need of rescue. For that reason, he and his wife Sisleigh adopted two frozen embryos in 2015. One of their adopted children is now 19 months old, though his sister or brother did not survive the transfer into Sisleigh Harmon’s womb.
“Our desire was that we might love our preborn neighbors as ourselves by rescuing those orphans that are most forgotten about in society and bringing awareness to our culture—particularly the Christian community—about the evils of the IVF industry and the plight of these abandoned embryonic humans,” Harmon told the Liberator.
He responded to a few comments on the the Baby Bee Hummingbirds page, asking parents to give their children a chance in the womb or in an adopted family rather than destroying them for the purpose of making jewelry. He said that his comments were quickly deleted and that he was banned from further commenting.
Abolitionists Michael and Brandy Graves have also adopted five embryos, all of whom died in the womb, much to their parents’ grief. The Graves’ have several biological children, but said they chose to adopt embryos for the same reason they choose to take in foster children—because they were abandoned children in need of a loving home.
“When we became aware that there were children who had been frozen by their parents and left there, we knew that the only Christian response was to rescue as many as God provided means and opportunity to rescue,” Michael Graves said.
The adoption process was both expensive and physically taxing, and though the death of all five children was heartbreaking, the Graves’ said they would do it again without hesitation. “If the Christian response to children being frozen in freezers is to rescue them from the freezer, then the end result is for their benefit, not our own,” said Brandy Graves. “We would have loved to have raised those five children, but they did not die orphans.”
She said she was sickened by the Baby Bee Hummingbirds product. “[I thought] the same thoughts I would think about someone murdering their newborn and turning them into jewelry,” she said. “Revolting, disgusting, inhumane! Sick!”
Michael Graves agreed. “Give an embryo a face, hands, little fingers, tiny toes, and chubby little arms, and legs,” he said, making the argument that an embryo ash necklace is no different, morally speaking, than a taxidermic trophy made from the body of a born child. “Then kill that child, and mount it like a deer, or elk. Hang it on your wall, show your buddies.”
According to Baby Bee Hummingbirds, the parents who buy these products are “informed, educated, and loving people who have made an educated decision.”
“Being informed and educated about the reality of their decision (that these are human beings who deserve to be loved and cared for by their parents, rather made into jewelry) is evidence that they do not love their children, and it increases their guilt for dehumanizing and destroying them,” Harmon said.
“Informed, and educated, but…. loving?” Michael Graves asked. According to Graves, parents who would destroy their children and turn them into jewelry love themselves but not their children, and seek only to fulfill their own selfish desires. “A thread like (the comments on the Baby Bee Hummingbirds page), is a testament of the mercy, and long suffering of our Creator,” he added.
“I think Baby Bee is trying to make money off of people who made more children than they want or can physically give birth to and are tired of paying the freezer fees,” Brandy Graves said. “One lady on the comment thread said adoption was not an option for their family. Why? Why is murdering your children and wearing them as jewelry an option, but adoption isn’t?”
Baby Bee Hummingbirds declined to comment.