When was the last time you felt defeated, crushed? Embryo adoption parents Alvin and Julie remember well when their spirits were as damp and gloomy as a fogged-out, rain-slickened day in their home in the Pacific Northwest.

“After having five amazing years together as a couple, we decided it was time to build our family. Getting pregnant was not as simple as we had expected it to be,” Julie recalls. “After a year and a half of trying to conceive naturally followed by a year of fertility treatments, including IUI and IVF, we still came home empty-handed. Our dreams of having a baby were crushed. We were so disappointed, angry and grieving the fact that we may never have children.” Alvin and Julie took some time to mourn, vent and process their pain.

The desire to build a family and have children was always on their minds. After a year, in 2013, they were ready to once again think about having children and researched some options. It was March of 2013,  while on vacation in Hawaii, when a fortuitous email from a friend found its way to Julie’s inbox. The email described a way to become pregnant with your adopted child: embryo adoption. The more time that passed, the more attracted they became to the idea of being able to adopt and carry a child through their own pregnancy.  “We were excited at the idea of being able to experience pregnancy and all the joys that come along with it,” Alvin and Julie say.

Less than a year later, Julie and Alvin applied to the National Embryo Donation Center. “I remember working quickly to complete all the necessary paperwork to prepare for our initial visit with Dr. Jeffrey Keenan,” Julie says. They didn’t want to waste any time. The desire to bring a child home was stronger than ever. Having completed all the paperwork with the exception of waiting for fingerprint results, they headed on a three week vacation to Japan to enjoy the cherry blossom festivities. The day they returned, they noticed a missed call and voice mail from the NEDC explaining there had been a cancellation. That meant Julie and Alvin could be seen as early as May for their initial appointment instead of July as originally planned. They made all the arrangements and traveled to meet Dr. Keenan.

Even though it meant journeying all the way to Knoxville, Tennessee, Alvin and Julie say it was more than worth it. Dr. Keenan performed their frozen embryo transfer at the NEDC in September. Nine months later, in June 2015, their wait for a child ended. Their daughter Serena, after spending a decade in frozen preservation, finally touched the outside world.

“She has brought so much joy, love and laughter to our family,” Alvin and Julie say. “We are also blessed to have a great relationship with her donor family. Serena has three genetic siblings, and they have become part of our extended family. We have traveled across the country to visit our donor family and they will be traveling to visit us this summer!”

Julie and Alvin have not only gained a daughter, but a whole new group of people with whom to share life’s challenges, disappointments, surprises and celebrations. It’s a circle of support that could only come about through embryo adoption. “Dr. Keenan and the NEDC have touched our lives in a very real and moving way,” they affirm. “We feel so fortunate they have had a huge hand in helping us build our little family.”

Click here to apply to adopt or donate embryos. For more info on embryo adoption, click here. For more info on embryo donation, click here.