Great love stories can start in the strangest places. For embryo adoption parents Kendall and Matthew Henderson, love bloomed in a bowling alley. They met there when they were both students at Auburn University.
“We were both under the impression that we needed a physical education course to complete our degree requirements,” Kendall remembers. “So we both randomly chose to take a bowling class off campus.” A few weeks later, each of their advisors told them they’d made a mistake. Neither Kendall nor Matthew actually needed the PE class after all. No matter. The ball was already rolling on their romance, eventually leading all the way to wedding bells.
Kendall and Matthew started trying to have children in 2015. Given her family history of infertility and some other health issues, Kendall had a feeling conceiving wouldn’t be easy. Turned out she didn’t know the half of it. “What we did not know is that along with the “normal” health issues I had, I also have endometriosis and produce large cysts on my ovaries every month,” Kendall says. So in addition to the standard emotional baggage that accompanies infertility, this young couple had to come to terms with the fact that attempts at pregnancy were potentially putting Kendall’s body at risk.
As if that wasn’t discouraging enough, genetic tests had revealed something else: Kendall was a carrier for a genetic mutation called Fragile X. “We were told that we could keep trying to conceive until we hopefully produced a viable embryo,” the Hendersons say. “But if we passed down the Fragile X gene to our future children, they could not only have fertility issues, but also genetic abnormalities in their own children that would likely lead to a loss of life.”
This news reordered Kendall and Matthew’s steps. It launched them down a path of intense prayer and research. “We had already discussed adoption,” Kendall recalls. “But we were still clinging to the desire for me to carry a child.” Because it seemed like the best way to fulfill their desires, the Hendersons decided to go with embryo adoption through the National Embryo Donation Center. If successful, this would give them a child who didn’t share their genetic material, but would still be 100 percent theirs. Plus they could control the prenatal environment and experience the wonder of pregnancy.
“The NEDC has always represented hope for us,” Kendall and Matthew share. “Even when our first embryo transfer was unsuccessful, we never felt that we were at the end of the road.”
Reminder of the Lord’s Faithfulness
They weren’t. In fall 2019, after nearly a five-year struggle with infertility, Kendall gave birth to Lily Ruth through embryo adoption. “Her first name is a constant reminder of the Lord’s faithfulness,” Kendall says. “Matthew 6:28 tells us not to worry or be anxious for anything, stating that if God takes such tender care of the lilies in the field, then He will surely take care of us.”
Lily’s middle name is rich with meaning as well. “Just as Ruth was adopted into her mother-in-law’s faith and became part of her family, so Jesus has adopted us and called us daughters and sons of the King,” they explain. “We pray that Lily Ruth will cherish her adoption story, and always know that God chose her to be part of our family.”
And to think it all started with what most would consider a random chance meeting at a bowling alley. Ask the Hendersons, though, and they’ll tell you that when you’re walking in faith, there’s no such thing as a fluke.