Ready for Transfer

We are happy to announce we have completed the mediation process and now have a transfer date! 

Clayton and I spent the summer working on matching and mediation process. During this time we worked with a mediator to negotiate the terms of our open adoption. It was our choice to do an open adoption as we felt this will be best in the long run.  While we have not spoken directly to our donors (only via our mediator), we already feel a sense of connection to them. We plan to have limited contact at first, but we are open to more if the relationship progresses naturally. 

We are very excited and hopeful, but also nervous and cautious at the same time. It’s all about to get very real. Now that the paperwork/legal side of our process is complete, the physical side of things will begin for me. Soon I will start a variety of hormone treatments to prepare my body for the transfer process (this includes shots, which I’m pretty nervous about). I’m confident we will figure it all out, but it will be brand new to us, a learning curve for sure. 

Due to the how personal this process will get and how sensitive the details may be, we’ve chosen not to share our transfer date publicly. I will say that our scheduled date is before the end of the year. 

We would greatly appreciate your prayers as there are a lot of unknowns still ahead for us. While we are hopeful, there are still risks ahead. Ultimately we trust that God is in control and has a plan for our family. We know He called us to embryo adoption and that He will see us through this journey. 

Specific ways you can pray:

-peace over our family

-that the medical preparations would go well

-that our embryos survive the thawing process

-that our transfer is successful and results in a healthy pregnancy 

Chosen and Accepted

We are excited to announce we have officially chosen our embryos and the donating families have accepted! 

This is a huge praise and major step forward in our embryo adoption process. For us, the matching process was much harder than we expected. We were overwhelmed by the process both mentally and emotionally. I mean, imagine trying to select your potential child. It’s a lot. We prayed God would draw us to the same families. We definitely took our time and didn’t rush our decision.  

Throughout the process I knew we couldn’t make a wrong choice, but we prayed God would give us peace. I believe that sometimes in life, God makes answers crystal clear and other times not so clear. But as long as we, as Christians, are seeking Him and walking in obedience we are inside His will. I honestly thought this would be one of those decisions where we would be making a bold step without a perfectly clear answer. But thankfully, I was wrong. 

One afternoon a few weeks ago I was spending time with one of my best friends and processing all of my thoughts out loud. As I was talking in circles and trying to explain the tangled web of thoughts in my head, she calmly reminded me of a dream the Lord had given me previously. In that moment I felt God give us our answer! It was an Ah-ha moment, one of those, “why didn’t I think of that!?”, kind of feelings. I sure and thankful for friends who point me to truth. 

For now, I don’t plan to share the details of our matches publicly. There are parts of our story, the more personal details, I want to keep for our family (at least for now). However, I will say that we have matched with primary and secondary donor families. Between these two families, we will have 5 embryos saved for us. 5 tiny little frozen lives. 5 sweet image barrers of Christ waiting for a chance at life. 

We are now in what is called the “mediation period”. We chose an open adoption, so during the next few weeks we will be working with a mediator to determine the level of openness we will have with the donors. This could range anywhere from a yearly email update, to meeting in person. At this time, Clayton and I are leaning towards starting off with minimal communication, but we are open to more if the relationship develops organically. We believe an open adoption will be best for our child in the future as they will have the opportunity to know their biological family if desired. 

Once the Open Donation Agreement is finalized, we will move forward to scheduling our embryo transfer. At this point I do not have an estimate for this. I’m trying to keep an open mind and limited expectations on the timeline. We are trusting God will work out the details as we know His timing is ultimately best.  

I’ll close out this blog by sharing a really powerful story. 

This summer Clark and I have been visiting our local library weekly. He gets 7 dinosaur books and I choose one Christian fiction book for the week. Last week, as we were checking out, I was sharing with the librarian how much I enjoyed the last book I read and the reasons why (The Masterpiece by Francine Rivers, READ IT!!!!!). She looked at the Karen Kingsbury book I was going to check out and suggested that I swap it for one of the author’s newest releases. I said yes and took home her recommendation without so much as glancing at the title, let alone reading the synopsis. Later that evening I opened the book and to my surprise on page 5 I read the words, “frozen embryo” and “transfer”. The book the librarian had suggested was a story of embryo adoption! I was so shocked I started yelling for Clayton. He thought something was wrong at first and almost didn’t believe me when I told him, but was equally amazed at how God had placed this book in my hands. I cannot wait until we return to the library this week for our new books. I’m so excited to tell the librarian this story and how God worked through her suggestion to speak to my heart. 

I know I said that was the end, but I do have one final story. This past Friday I was able to spend time with of my two dear friends that I don’t get to see often enough in person (thankfully we Marco Polo almost daily). These two gifted me with a jar of flowers. 5 Zinnias to be exact. One to represent each of our frozen embryos. It was truly one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received in my life. Not only did this gift show me the deep love and support my friends have for my family, but was a true representation of the beauty within this whole process. At times I am unsure and fearful about the unknowns still ahead. But I am choosing to cling to the truth of God’s words that His plans are good and His ways are higher than mine. I’m thankful for friends that encourage me to walk in these truths and remind of His goodness. 

The Waiting Game…

As my last post excitedly announced, we completed our home study on April 9th! We were so excited to be finished and move on to the matching phase. I assumed once the home study was sent we would start viewing profiles right away. However, in reality it took about a month and a half. That might not seem like a long time in the grand scheme of things, but when you are dealing with infertility and trying to match up a school teacher calendar it definitely feels like forever! 

Honestly, the last month or so has been hard for me emotionally/mentally. After finishing the home study, I went from “get-it done” hyperdrive mode to having nothing I could do. And nothing I could control. A complete halt. To say I lost hope would be inaccurate, I knew it would work out in God’s timing, my hope is in Him. But emotionally, I felt a little shut down. We also learned that my ideal timeline of a July transfer was no longer a possibility. When our home study was submitted, there were 30 families ahead of us to be processed. This meant getting through the matching process and starting medications all before July was not possible. In reality, it’s a good thing. It means more people are in the process of adoption and more babies will be born. Also rushing the matching process is NOT something we wanted to do. We want to make a prayerful, well thought decision. So I’ve just had to let go and try hard to keep my mind from circling down the negative hole of self doubt. 

In the meantime, we hosted an adoption yard sale fundraiser. I was so hesitant to do this. Honestly, I do like asking for help (unless it’s from my mom!!). So it took some humility on my part, but we finally decided to go for it! We were blown away by the support of our friends and family. Many donated items to sell and others came to shop and some did both. My mom and my Grandma Janice even came down to help for the big event! We had a lot of fun and doubled the goal I had hoped for. I also had so many conversations about embryo adoption. We had signs up explaining our sale which led to many questions about what exactly embryo adoption is. Most people said something like, “Woah, that’s cool, I’ve never heard of that!” I also spoke with several encouraging adoptive and foster mommas. I even met one woman whose brother actually used the NEDC for an embryo adoption!! A HUGE thank you goes out to everyone who supported us! 

After the wait, we are FINALLY here, to the matching part of this journey. Clayton and I were granted access to the donor portal. We have just begun our search, however we do have several profiles we are interested in. I know you might be curious about what the database is like, so I’ll try to explain it for you. We are able to see physical information such as hair color, eye color, height, weight etc. We can also see a full family medical history, as well as the donor’s educational background and careers. And finally, the amount of embryo’s being donated and if they have any children. 

We are relieved and humbled to be able to view profiles. As we look through them, the reality of these tiny lives is becoming more real. And thinking of their biological families, while imagining the hardships that may have led them to IVF and then adoption is a weight that is not lost on us. 

It’s also been really encouraging to see God working in our decision. Although we still need to pray over the profiles more, Clayton and I have been drawn to the same families. We feel like we are on the same page and that God will give us peace. 

We will be choosing a primary and back up donor. Once we request them, they will have the choice to choose us back. Then, we will enter a negotiation period where we agree to the level of openness and form a contract. 

We would definitely appreciate your continued prayers! We are thankful for a great support system and community of believers.

Home Study Complete

Two weeks ago we officially completed our home study process! This was a huge step in our Embryo Adoption journey. While I’d always heard home studies could be a difficult process, I had no idea what to expect. So I thought I would share a little about our experience with you in case you are curious too.

We used the Lutheran Family and Children’s Services of Missouri for our home study. They were one of the organizations I had started researching when we were praying about traditional adoption. I liked that they were faith based and local to Springfield. 

After completing our initial application we were assigned a social worker named Tina. She reached out to us and gave us an overview of the process and a list of all the documents needed. To say the least, there was A LOT of paperwork involved. I’ve jokingly said they asked for everything from our marriage license to our cats shot records and in between! But seriously, we do have two outside/shed kittens and we had to take them to get vaccinated to provide shot records!! 

Thankfully, I love a good organized checklist and Tina told us what to do every step of the way. I wouldn’t say that I am a naturally organized person, however when I am working towards a goal I love knowing exactly what to do and checking things off. Especially in this situation, infertility and adoption, this gave me a feeling of control when I’ve previously had a very limited amount. 

Tina was another huge answer to prayer. I wish everyone in the world worked as hard as Tina! She was always so quick to respond and helpful. I don’t think I ever waited more than an hour for her to reply to my emails. She truly lives out what the bible calls us to do, “work as unto the Lord.” (Col. 3:23). She not only made us feel important and cared for, she also inspired me to be even more efficient in my own work. 

Clayton and I both had to write out personal essays overviewing our lives. We answered questions about everything from our childhood upbringing to our to how we handle conflict in our marriage. These answers were then later used in an individual interview we each separately completed. We also had to have several reference forms completed by friends, family, employers and pastoral staff. While we didn’t get to see these forms fully, we did get to hear a little bit of what our references had said in our final review of the home study. It brought me to tears to see the way our family and friends support us and believe in us. It was truly humbling. 

Other items on the list included fingerprints for background checks, physical examinations and TB tests, all of our financial/bank statements and information, retirement fund verification, proof of insurance and more. 

The final step was a safety audit of our home. I feel like this is the step everyone hears about and worries about. But this was probably one of the easiest parts. Again, we had a list of what was needed. Thankfully since we have Clark, our home already has baby gates, outlet covers, and safety knobs. We just had to double check and make sure everything was in place. 

In the end, we were deemed as physically, mentally, emotionally and financially fit and able to add another baby to our family. 

We’ve had a few friends ask, “Is it frustrating to have to do all this work when you are already parents?”. The short answer to that is yes. To be honest all of this can be frustrating at times. But we are keeping our eyes on the goal and trusting God as we follow the processes set in place. We know it will all be worth it in the end and we feel God guiding our steps along the way. 

So, what’s next? Now we are waiting again. The National Embryo Donation Center will process the results of our home study and then give us access to their embryo database, which means it will be time to select our embabies (embryo babies). We are anxiously awaiting this time and would love your prayers in advance. 

We are also having an Adoption Garage Sale Fundraiser this weekend! We’ve been cleaning out our closets and our friends and family members have been donating items too. So if you are local and want to come shop, message me for our address! 

Initial NEDC Visit

Things are moving right along with our Embryo Adoption process. I haven’t had anytime for updates lately because we have been busy, busy, busy! I’m very thankful for the busy though, because this means we are moving closer to our goal.

Last week, Clayton and I traveled to the National Embryo Donation Center in Knoxville, TN for our first appointment. After our 10-hour drive, we arrived late Wednesday night in time for our Thursday morning appointment. We were very excited to meet the doctors and team members, and for everything to feel more real. From the time we walked into the office, until the time we left we are treated warmly and kindly. They even offered me a cup of coffee when we got there, which I greatly appreciated since I had to throw away my undrinkable hotel coffee.

First, we met with Dr. Gordan. He went over the medical side of things and then quickly got to my physical exam. Part of which is an ultrasound, I was sure glad that was early on in the appointment because I was told to arrive with a full bladder (that might have been the hardest part of the appointment!). Dr. Gordan preformed a few exams to make sure everything was good to go on my end. Thankfully, everything checked out perfectly and I was cleared physically, and allowed to use the restroom!

After that, Clayton and I sat in a room while different team members came in and explained the various aspects of our Embryo Adoption. We learned more about the matching process (we will get to begin viewing matches once our home study is complete). We also learned about the stages of embryos and lots of other scientific information. I was sure glad to have Clayton there to help me understand it all, he’s better with scientific terms than I am.

I had been praying two specific prayers for our appointment:

#1- medical clearance

#2- we would feel seen, cared for, and welcomed

Both of these prayers were definitely answered.  I loved learning more about the heart behind the NEDC. Each person there truly cares about helping families and desire every embryo to find a loving home. Their work is their mission and it shows.

Another huge blessing was being told that if we can get our home study done in a timely manner, we will be on schedule to head back to TN in July for our actual transfer!! This was my hope all along 😊 -I will write a separate post about our home study soon.

Additionally, we were given a $500 scholarship through a grant offered by the NEDC. It was definitely a nice surprise! Every little bit helps toward our costs and fees.

When we stop and think about it, we continue to see God’s hand all over this process.

I’ll be honest, I get overwhelmed at times. There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes. I’m pretty good at putting on a tough face and pushing towards the goal most days. But like anyone facing challenges, I have my moments of breaking down and feeling like I can’t do it. Thankfully, in those moments I have friends and family who remind me that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. He is literally moving mountains to bring us together with our sweet baby. He knows which embryos we will choose and exactly what our family will look like moving forward. He goes before us, and behind us, and beside us, all around us. He is working and we can feel it. It’s pretty amazing that He chose us for this journey. His special, perfect plan, just for us.

‘The LORD your God who goes before you will Himself fight on your behalf…Deuteronomy 1:30

You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Psalm 139:5 

We also got to have some fun along the way! We spent a night in Nashville and got to visit some of my dearest, oldest friends. Here are a few highlights from our trip.

While on our drive, we had lunch at the Lemonade House Grill in Poplar Bluff, MO. We also shared a flight of lemonade. They were so yummy, and our food was great too!
Late night Jet’s pizza in our hotel room. Clayton’s first time trying Jet’s 🙂
Super cool LEGO store we stumbled upon outside of Nashville, Music City Bricks! We just happened to drive by, Clayton saw the sign and had to check it out.
Dinner with my bestie, Jessi and her crew. We loved getting to spend the night with them. And you may be asking why we are holding a pelican in this picture? Because, why not!?
We got to have brunch with my dear friends Matt and Jason too!

The Process

I’ve had several questions about timing and the process of Embryo Adoption. So, I wanted to go into more detail on the steps and timeline. But before I do, I want to clearly state, I am not an Embryo Adoption adoption expert. We are still fairly early in the process and I would never claim to have all the answers. We are researching and figuring it out as we go. My desire is simply to share as we are learning.

Our initial application through the National Embryo Donation Center, which we submitted in January, was an online form. We answered a variety of different questions. Most were basic informational questions, while others asked about our family, personalities, community, church life and more. We had fun describing each other’s personality traits and sharing about our family and friends. The final section was a bit more difficult. They asked us to write a letter to our potential donor family. As you can imagine this took some time and a lot of thought. We wanted the words to be sincere, thoughtful and intentional. Once we completed the letter, we submitted the application and application fee.

Next, we received confirmation that our application was accepted and began follow up paperwork. We also both had to have some blood work done, specifically HIV testing. We actually turned this into a date believe it or not, nothing saying romance like getting blood drawn!  Here we are below enjoying our quality time at the hospital 🙂

We also began our home study application, which meant more paperwork. We are using the Lutheran Family and Children Services of Missouri to complete this portion of the process. Our home study application was accepted and we are now in process of gathering all the legal documents needed. We will also have our first interview this coming week! Not all Embryo Adoption programs require a home study, however I’m glad ours does. Yes, it’s more work, but I believe going through the process honors the life our future child. It also helps give peace of mind to the donor family.

Our next steps included the following:

-Initial visit to the NEDC in Knoxville, TN in March  – During this visit, the physicians will go over my medical history, we will meet the NEDC team and go over the process, additionally a “trial transfer” will be done to make sure there are no physical barriers which may impede the actual transfer or pregnancy.

-Complete the home study -more paperwork, as well as personal interviews and a home evaluation.

-After our initial visit and home study are complete, we will be given donor profiles to view and will be able to choose our embryos – SO EXCITING!!

-Legally have the embryos transfer to our names

-Return to Knoxville for the actual transfer (ideally we’d like to go over the summer, I know it might not fit into my perfect teacher timeline, but that’s my hope).

Typically, this process takes roughly 6 months total.

You may be wondering why I’ve said “embryos”. We will mostly likely adopt more than one embryo. One reason for this is there is a risk the embryos may not survive the thaw (75% do survive the thawing process). We will also most likely transfer more than one embryo at a time to increase the chances of a successful implantation.  

“According to the latest statistics from the CDC, the national average pregnancy rate for embryo adoption is 50 percent and the national average birth rate is 40 percent. These statistics are from a database of all U.S. assisted reproductive technology clinics. The NEDC’s overall pregnancy rate per transfer is 55 percent and live-birth rate is 45 percent.” -National Embryo Donation Center

Other questions:

-Will we get the choose the gender? No, although some embryos have undergone preimplantation genetic testing, for practical and ethical reasons, the NEDC does not share the information with recipients.

-What if we don’t get pregnant? If the transfer is not successful the first time, we can try 2 more times with the National Embryo Donation Center. As heartbreaking as it would be not to get pregnant, we see each transfer as giving the embryo a chance to leave their frozen state and have life.

-Is it expensive? This is tricky to answer. Embryo Adoption is roughly $10,000.00 through the NEDC. So yes, $10 Grand its a lot of money to us. However, when you compare this to the cost of traditional domestic infant adoption, which averages around $30,000-$40,000.00, it’s definitely more affordable.

I think that is all for now. But if you have additional questions, just ask. I’m happy to answer them, or at least try my best!

If you’d like more details, please visit the following websites. This is where the bulk of my information and research has come from.

Be Still

The D-group bible study I’m a part of is currently reading a book called, Bearing God’s Name, Why Saoni Still Matters. In the first week, one of the corresponding scripture readings was Exodus 14. As a read through it, I was struck by this section of the text: 

10 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. 11 They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”

13 Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

“Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the dessert to die?” I had to chuckle when I read this, because it sounded both over dramatic and yet completely relatable at the same time. While I’ve never been attacked by an Egyptian army or any army for that matter, I can totally understand the heart of where the Israelites were coming from. They were scared, confused and oh so human, just like we still are today. God had literally just freed them from slavery, but they quickly forgot the goodness of His mercy because the couldn’t see what was coming next.

Throughout our infertility journey I have felt similarly.  Scared, confused and wondering what is next.   While part of the infertility battle is physical, it’s the mental battle I struggle to win. I’m often consumed with my thoughts and emotions.  I’m sure I have said a lot of dramatic things to the Lord and to my husband, sounding similar to the Israelites. Things like:

“Why would God give her another baby but not me?”

“Why doesn’t anyone understand what I am going through?”

“Why don’t they ask me how I am doing? Do they not care about me?”

“Am I a bad mom? Is God punishing me by not giving me another child?”

“I am the most selfish person for wanting another child when I already have one beautiful, miracle son when other families have none. I’m wrong to desire another baby.” 

But God. God steps into the lies and says, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” 

Chills. The last line always gives me chills and totally puts me in my place.  I am an action, solution-based person. If there is a problem I want to fix it. Me. On my own. I don’t like to ask for help, I just want to take care of things myself. I’ll gladly help you with your problems, put me in and let me help you fight, but I’ve got my own battles just fine. No. This is control, or a false sense of control anyway. The Lord says to be still. To surrender. I’m continually learning when it comes to stillness. My mind goes 100 miles a minute. Always thinking, planning and preparing and even self-loathing. 

Not only does God want me to be still, but he also deserves the glory. His power, not mine. His saving, not mine. His plans, not mine. So, I’m learning to turn my battles over to Him and trust Him daily. I am learning not to compare my story to others, and enjoy the unique journey God has placed us on.

He will fight for me, I just need to rest in Him and be still.

Our 1 in 8 Story

“Approximately one in eight couples are affected by infertility in the United States. That’s about 6.7 million people each year who have trouble conceiving.”

I’ve never publicly shared our fertility journey. I’m not entirely sure why, other than it’s deeply personal and it’s scary to share something so vulnerable with the world. We have shared with our families and close friends, but never on a public platform. However, to understand the whole story I think it’s important to start from the beginning.

So, here we go. When we first got married, in 2015 we knew we wanted to start a family right away. We both desired to be parents and since we got married in our later 20’s, we were ready. Initially we weren’t too alarmed when we didn’t get pregnant right away, we knew it could take a little time.  After one year of trying we began to get discouraged. I scheduled a doctor’s appointment to make sure things were okay. The doctor said, “You and your husband are both young and healthy, I’d like you to give it six more months of trying before we start down the infertility road.”.  So, we waited (even though I wanted answers) and kept on trying. Month after month I was hopeful and then disappointed. Infertility is such a mental battle; the monthly emotional roller coaster is exhausting.

Eventually, my follow up appointment came around. I was scheduled to see the doctor over my spring break, on Wednesday to be specific. Well, the week leading up to the appointment I was feeling really discouraged. I’d taken a pregnancy test earlier in the week and it was negative…but then my period never came. This was also the week of our second wedding anniversary. I remember telling one of my co-workers about it and she said, “Go home and take another test!”.  So that afternoon, 5 days before my scheduled appointment, I reluctantly went home and took yet another test.

This time there was a very, very faint positive line, or at least I thought so. I wanted to be excited, but I was mostly confused. Those tests can be hard to read sometimes! So, I waited and took another one, again a very faint positive line appeared.

I will never forget the excitement yet hesitation I felt. I wanted to tell Clayton in some cute, Pinterest worthy way, but I was too scared I was only imagining the positive line. When he got home from work I showed him the test and he was hopeful yet unsure too. After a trip to Target for the “good test” (you know, the kind that says the word pregnant) we finally believed it was true! 

Clark David was born on November 18th, 2017. Our precious little miracle baby. We were in awe of him and soaked up every moment as new parents. Clayton and I knew we wanted at least one more baby and because we waited longer than we’d anticipated for Clark we decided to start trying again as soon as possible. This was slightly scary with an infant, but we were okay with having babies close together.

**Fun fact, Clayton is an Irish Twin! He and his sister are only 10 months apart! I’m not saying I wanted to keep that trend going, but I would’ve been okay with it, especially if it meant not having to wait again. 

Well, a year went by…we started to wonder. Was this infertility again? Or was it just God’s timing? We also started getting asked when baby number two was coming. Like a lot, which only feed my doubts. We talked about getting testing done, and I did have some basic blood work done (which came back fine), but time just kept moving on. Once we hit the two-year trying mark things really began to shift for me. This was taking longer than it did the first time…people had told me it was easier to get pregnant after your body had already done it once…what was taking so long?

After speaking with my doctor about our fertility struggles, she recommended Clayton get some testing done. So, this past May, he did. We were shocked when results revealed we were suffering with MFI, Male Factor Infertility. I won’t get into all of the details here, but long story short the odds were not good. In fact, one doctor said we had about a 5% chance of getting pregnant when we conceived Clark. *If you have experience with MFI, or are walking through it, I’m happy to answer more questions individually.*

This was a lot to process and honestly led to some of the darkest days of my life.  We were both heartbroken. And I felt very alone. As I was grieving, I was also worried about Clayton’s heart and didn’t want to make him feel worse. But he being the logical one said, “Well, it had to be one of us.”. On top of this news, we were still in the midst of the Covid lockdown when the whole world felt different.

I will also add here that secondary infertility brought with it a whole new group of emotions. I felt guilty, selfish and ungrateful. I felt wrong to desire another child when so many people were still longing for their first. I felt ungrateful for asking God for a second child when I already had the greatest gift in Clark. Honestly, I felt like a spoiled brat.

Thankfully, through some amazing friends and family, I was reminded that God had placed the desire to be a mother on my heart. It was not wrong to desire another child, because God put that yearning in my heart. Clayton and I processed all of this together over the next few months.

As we prayed and sought out our options we both keep coming back to adoption. Most doctors and specialists we saw immediately suggested IVF. We researched and even met with one of the best IVF doctors in the country, he was amazing. However, we just didn’t have peace in proceeding. To be perfectly clear, I am not against IVF in anyway. I think its an amazing way to grow your family and we did consider it. Ultimately, it just wasn’t where the Lord was leading us.

Adoption was something we’d always considered, even before Clark. My best friend is adopted from Honduras and because of our relationship I’ve been in awe of how God works through adoption. I mean, God chose to put her in my home town of Troy, Missouri of all places in the world and I am tremendously blessed by her friendship because of adoption.  We also have a newly adopted baby in the Bass family. My cousin and his wife adopted the sweetest little boy almost 2 years ago. He is such a blessing and brings so much joy to our family. Knowing him and his story added another adoption tug on our hearts.

This past fall we began praying about adoption more frequently. In October, we both set daily prayer reminders on our phones to increase the frequency of our prayers. I also began researching adoption agencies. While we felt the Lord saying yes to adoption, the process itself was very overwhelming to us. I looked into several agencies, but the more I researched the more confused I felt.

Then as I explained in my previous post, embryo adoption came into consideration. As we began researching and praying more, I felt the Lord clearing the way. Where I was confused and overwhelmed before, I felt peace and clarity.

My dad often reminds me to seek the peace of the Lord. This was something he began praying for us when I first expressed our interest in adopting. He kept encouraging me that peace was coming. Not just any peace, but the peace that surpasses all understanding.  Peace like no other.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. -Philippians 4:7

He was right. The peace we have in this decision can only come from the Lord. We will continue to seek and walk in His peace daily. When we have moments of doubt or when questions of the unknowns creep in, we cling to this peace. We hold strong to the promises of His truth. He is the creator of life. He has placed us here in this moment. And He has the perfect plan for our family.

Starting the Journey

January first was extra special for us this year as we officially began the process of embryo adoption with the National Embryo Donation Center. What a way to start off the new year! I had imagined submitting would be a quiet, prayerful moment of Clayton and I sitting at the computer together, both clicking submit together. However, in reality it consisted of Clark climbing on top of me while Land Before Time played in the background (for about the 100th time). But honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. It was real and messy, the beautiful reality of parenting and life in general. 

First, I would like to introduce you to embryo adoption (I’ll explain our journey that led us to adoption in a later post.). Embryo adoption occurs when couples who use In Vitro Fertilization to achieve pregnancy have remaining embryos after their family is complete. One of their options is to donate those embryos to another couple (Sadly the other options are to discard the embryos, donate them to science, or leave them frozen indefinitely.). Embryo adoption allows the couple with remaining embryos to select a family to “gift” the embryos to. The adopting family is then able to use the donated embryos to achieve a pregnancy and give birth to their adopted child. 

When Clayton and I began praying about adoption in general, embryo adoption was not an option we considered because honestly, we didn’t understand it. In fact, when it was mentioned to me early on I said, “Yeah, we won’t do anything weird, we’ll just do a normal adoption.” Now I laugh and roll my eyes at myself for saying that. 

I am so thankful God brought embryo adoption back around to our thoughts and prayers. The second time it came up in conversation I jokingly mentioned something about it to my mom. She said, “Janae, as your mother, I’d love for you to have the opportunity to carry another baby, because I know it’s something you desire.” Again in the moment, I told her, “No, we already decided against that.” However, her words kept coming back to me. Was there an option where I could carry my own adopted child?

Just as only God would do, the next week my mom started seeing articles and news stories about embryo adoption. She sent me one of the news stories and said, “Found this interesting after our talk.” I watched it and my heart began to soften. I spent the next two days researching, praying and trying to understand the process of embryo adoption. 

Once I felt like I had a solid understanding, I knew I had to bring it up to Clayton again. I was nervous because I’d mentioned the idea to him previously, back when I said we’d just do something “normal” and he was also not open to the idea. So I started out the conversation by admitting I didn’t understand what embryo adoption was previously, then I simply started explaining what I’d been researching and learning. It was amazing to see it all clicking for him too. In fact after I’d explained everything, Clayton said, “I hate to do a 180, but now I think this may be the best option for us.” 

With his blessing I began researching even more. Side note, in our relationship I am typically the researcher/gatherer. I need all the information! I like to read, study and research. Clayton is very logical and level headed. So once I’ve gathered the information, I relay it all to him and we decide together. He doesn’t overthink everything like I do. So having his sound mind helps me to clarify my own thoughts and sort it all out. Any other couples like us? Or maybe it’s reversed for others. 

We started praying more than ever. We had already been praying about adopting daily for several months, but now the prayers were focused specifically on embryo adoption. I was actually praying that if this wasn’t God’s will for our family, that as we started sharing the idea with friends and family they would have valid reasons for us to stop pursuing it. I prayed for doors to be opened wide or closed tight. 

Each time we shared the process we got a “yes” answer. Which is amazing to me because most people had never even heard of embryo adoption before! They were all blown away by the process and also saddened by the fact so few people know about it. They also affirmed our thoughts that embryo adoption is a life-honoring, biblically sound opportunity. 

As I continued researching options for Embryo Donation programs, my passion began to grow.  My passion for these tiny frozen lives just waiting for a chance at life. My passion for their biological families, who chose to honor life by offering them for adoption. My passion for couples experiencing infertility and my passion to tell others about these lives just waiting for a chance.  Somewhere along the journey I felt the Lord calling me to share our story. It’s not that I think I’m a talented writer or that I want to be the spokesperson for embryo adoption. It’s simply a passion to educate others and share the hope embryo adoption can give. 

We are just beginning this journey. One that is sure to have its ups and downs. We debated on waiting until after we were pregnant to publicly share our story. And honestly, that feels like the safer option. However, we are choosing to walk in faith. We are choosing to share in the now. We are choosing to trust God in every step of this process and honor Him with the outcome no matter what.