“Keep on asking, and you will receive. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you.” It doesn’t take long for Christians to realize those famous words from Matthew 7 aren’t a formula, as if God is some sort of genie in the sky. Rather, they’re His gracious invitation to keep asking for guidance and answers- to walk in obedience and trust Him, even when the path ahead looks murky. In turn, He’ll provide what we need. It’s a process embryo adoption parents Amy and Robert Hefner know well.
Robert and Amy met more than 15 years ago at college. Two years after their first date, they were engaged. A year after that, they were husband and wife. “All I ever wanted to be was a wife and mom,” Amy recalls. “I joke that I went to college to get my MRS. degree.” Robert was on board with Amy’s parenthood vision. They had dreams of a large family and figured adoption would be part of that picture.
Naturally, they tried to get pregnant a couple years into marriage. That was when they encountered something they never planned on: infertility. Testing and treatment followed, but those stopped when Amy’s employer closed her department, leaving her jobless. “We saw that as the Lord saying, ‘Not now’,” Amy says.
A couple years later, the desire for children was back. They went through more treatments, but to no avail. “Again we felt the Lord closing the door on us having a baby,” Robert and Amy remember. In hindsight, the Hefners know the timing wouldn’t have been right. They’d just begun serving as houseparents at the Tennessee Baptist Children’s Homes, a Christian nonprofit helping kids in hard places. “We were instant parents to eight teenage boys at a time: two weeks on 24/7, then a week off. We couldn’t even think about having a baby!”
Once they adjusted to ministry as houseparents, the Hefners started asking God for children again. “But it just wasn’t God’s plan for us,” Amy says. The failed treatments, however, were gradually becoming more difficult to accept. “Everyone around the same age as us seemed as though they already had children or were pregnant in no time. The sting of baby shower invitations or looking at “Babybook” (what I started to call Facebook) was so, so hard.”
Robert and Amy clung to the only sure thing they had, continuing to trust in God’s providence. Passages like Proverbs 3:5-6 (“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and He will make straight your paths”), Ephesians 2:10 (“We are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance”) and Romans 8:28 (“All things work together for good to those who love God”) became the guiding lights for their entire journey.
Finally, their ultimate answer came into view. A friend sent the Hefners articles about embryo adoption, and they ran across a video testimony of a couple who had children through the National Embryo Donation Center. Instantly, Robert and Amy felt like embryo adoption through the NEDC was what they were meant to do.
In 2018, as a result of her frozen embryo transfer at the NEDC, Amy gave birth to twins Eliana and Aliza. “They have given comfort, brought joy and so much more. Not only for us, but also their grandparents and “big brothers” as we continue to houseparent,” the Hefners share.
Robert and Amy also say this experience has given them a larger extended family than they ever dreamed. They have open relationships with their donor family as well as another adoptive family that had children through the same set of embryos. “All three of our families have a set of twins. It’s so neat to see the story God has written and how He has brought our families together for His glory,” Amy says. One other neat detail: Eliana and Aliza share the same birth date as their donor family’s twin boys, just 15 years apart.
As they reflect on all of this, Robert and Amy are thankful they kept asking, obeying and trusting. They’re ecstatic at God’s kind answer. But there’s more. “We are so grateful for the “gift” of infertility,” they say. “It taught us dependence on our Heavenly Father, how to be content with Jesus, and it brought us closer together as a couple. We also believe we experienced it so we would be able to understand what other people are going through and possibly be a help to them.” Ask, and not only will you receive. What you receive may actually be far richer than what you desired in the first place.