The old adage that familiarity breeds contempt doesn’t always hold true. Take embryo adoption couple Mike and Laura Stybel, for instance. They’ve known each other well since middle school. Laura was the best friend of Mike’s sister, so she was at the Stybel house all the time. She and Mike ended up dating in their early twenties and got married shortly thereafter.
“We both wanted children. We envisioned a house full of them,” the Stybels shared. But that vision seemed hopelessly out of reach. A couple years into their marriage, they started trying to have children, but those attempts were going nowhere. Fertility specialists couldn’t tell them why.
Their frustration only compounded when they tried to adopt. “We went through a home study and signed with adoption agencies. There were many considering placing a child with us, but none were successful,” Mike remembered. “It felt like we were destined to be just a couple forever.”
Mike and Laura found new hope online. An Internet search for embryo adoption led them to the National Embryo Donation Center in Knoxville, Tennessee. They decided to make the drive from their home in Ohio to consult with NEDC President and Medical Director Dr. Jeffrey Keenan. “When we pulled into a small office in a retail area, we were discouraged. Looks are deceiving, however,” they recalled. Once they got inside, they were heartened to find state-of-the-art equipment and a kind, caring staff. Best of all, Dr. Keenan was able to diagnose the medical issues preventing the Stybels from conceiving.
That doesn’t mean the road from there was easy. Mike and Laura endured two miscarriages and another failed attempt at pregnancy. But they didn’t give up. Nor did the NEDC staff, which the Stybels describe as “the most compassionate, caring and professional medical personnel we have ever dealt with.” Mike and Laura knew they were never alone. “[NEDC nurse] Lynda McCollum was kind and patient and held our hand through the entire thing.”
That patience was rewarded. After 10 years of married life, Laura finally gave birth to the child she and Mike had always longed for in 2016. Mason is just a few months old, but he’s the light of their lives. “He is a bright, bubbly little boy; the answer to many prayers and sleepless nights,” Mike says. “We can spend time with family and friends who have children and not feel the sting of infertility.”
What a joy for Mike and Laura to become familiar with a totally new identity: “We are no longer an infertile couple. We are parents.”