Getting your world turned upside down isn’t always a bad thing. Just ask embryo adoption parents Joel and Lucy Creel.

Like many couples, Joel and Lucy struggled to have children. They were no stranger to failed fertility treatments and dreams of domestic adoption that didn’t work out. “It was 10 years before Joel and I were able to be parents to the babies God intended us to have,” Lucy says.

Finally achieving parenthood probably wouldn’t have happened had a friend not shared a magazine article about embryo adoption. The Creels had heard about the concept before but, until that moment, weren’t really considering it a possibility. “At this point I felt my heart had been prepared,” Lucy recalls. “I was now completely open to starting this process. Joel and I did our research and committed to trying to start our family once again.”

They were already familiar with Dr. Jeffrey Keenan, leader of the National Embryo Donation Center. That comfort level led them to decide to adopt embryos through the NEDC, where they finally found success. “What a beautiful journey we were gifted with thanks to everyone at the NEDC and our donors,” the Creels say. That journey resulted in the births of twins Audrey and Austin in 2010.

Since then, the Creels have learned Audrey and Austin have high-functioning autism, but that it does not define them. Actually, the Creels say, it makes their children Joel and Lucy’s greatest teachers. “It only brings a colorful, innocent view of what is important in life,” Lucy shares. “Austin is my thinker and loves LEGOs and Minions. Audrey is my free spirit who brightens the room with her smiles and positive reinforcement. And they both love BIG! They have taught me how to be gracious and to love even bigger!”

Their family didn’t come together exactly as they envisioned (whose does?), but Joel and Lucy believe what they got is better. “Audrey and Austin turn our worlds upside down to show us that there is beauty in life, and sometimes you just have to stop and look at it through their eyes,” the Creels say. “And now we get to raise tiny humans to teach them how to continue to love, shine their light and show grace for all and to all.”

Inspiration comes in many forms, including autism. The Creels are also proof that inspiration can arrive from a variety of pathways, even embryo adoption.

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.