Enjoy this crazy story of one family’s furry surprise on the way to the NEDC 800th Baby Celebration in June of 2019, told firsthand by embryo adoption dad Aaron Kazmierczak.

Hard to Handle

There are always some moments in life in which you find yourself very ill-prepared to handle the situation. As most embryo adoption families know, just going about the process of building a family can be one of those moments.

But after experiencing the joy of welcoming a little one into your family, you start to get a sense that the most challenging times may now be behind you. As in many things in life, though, I believe God has an amazing sense of humor and likes to change things up every so often, just to keep us focused and reliant on Him. Thus begins our journey to the National Embryo Donation Center 800th Baby Celebration picnic!

The Perfect Vacation

Our family chose to vacation in Tennessee during the week prior to the picnic, so we journeyed from Michigan down to Gatlinburg to spend a week hiking the Great Smoky Mountains. Although the rangers encouraged some simple hikes for our kids (age 7 and 5 year old twins), we knew our kids could handle much more, so we hiked challenging climbs with large elevation changes, river crossings, and nature in abundance.

The kids loved it and got to experience the world in new ways. We appreciated the wildlife from a safe distance and marveled at the size and grandeur of the mountains surrounding us.

Something Moving Side-to-Side

As the day of the NEDC event arrived, we started to pack up our minivan for the journey to Ijams Nature Center. We were excited to connect with so many other families who had experienced the blessings of the NEDC. I carried a suitcase to our car, went inside the house to get the next bag and started toward the car again.

As I emerged from the house, I noticed the car moving side-to-side in a very unusual way. So I called to my wife and told her I thought someone was in the car. She suspected it was someone trying to steal something out of our car and told me to get down there to deal with them. (Note: The house we rented was at the top of a very steep mountain overlooking Gatlinburg. The possibility of someone heading all the way up there just to try to steal my dirty laundry seems statistically improbable).

It was then that I noticed a black splotch at the rear of our minivan.

Hungry Intruder

Turns out an extremely large black bear had completely climbed into the back of our minivan and was now in the process of searching for a tasty meal. As luck had it, I had not yet loaded any of our food into the minivan. But this didn’t deter his efforts to push stuff around in the car, looking for the stray Goldfish crackers that are found in most family vehicles.

After a quick check to make sure all three of our kids were safely in the house, my wife and I began yelling at the bear to get out of our car. (Being suburban dwellers, we weren’t sure what was the socially acceptable way to inform a bear that he’s not welcome in your car, so yelling seemed our best and only option.)

A Going-Away Present

After a few moments, as the bear climbed down from the car, I wondered, “Why am I not recording this on my phone???” We were able to get a few pics (unfortunately after the bear had exited the minivan) as the bear slowly meandered away from the house, no doubt looking for some other unsuspecting tourists to take advantage of. I later joked with my wife that the bear probably knew instinctively that most people pack up their cars on Saturday mornings, and that this was likely how he got free meals!

So, even though we were ill-prepared for a surprise in our car, God had a special going-away present for us in the form of a large black bear. The entire journey to the picnic, we had to deal with the interesting sour smell of bear that now permeated our vehicle. But the memories of that event will last a lifetime!

Note: Aaron Kazmierczak and his wife Shari run an embryo adoption nonprofit called Chosen and Loved. Click here to check it out! We’re also very thankful to them for gifting copies of Shari’s Chosen and Loved children’s book to NEDC families once they deliver new babies.

For More Information

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.