Enjoy this story as told by Marie Johnson. She and her husband Randy made their embryos available for embryo adoption, with amazing results.
When I was in my late 20s I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). At the time I was neither married nor dating and wondered if a man would want to marry me, knowing I may never be able to have children. As I lay in bed the night of the PCOS diagnosis I prayed that God would give me a husband that would be understanding and supportive of possibly not having children. God answered my prayer a few months later when I met my husband, Randy, through a mutual friend.
Randy and I lived in different states at the time, but easily talked for hours on the phone and became best friends. I prayed very specifically that God would show me whether Randy was “the one”, and God very specifically answered, “Yes!” After dating long distance for only 6 weeks we got engaged, and married the next year (1996).
Randy and I wanted to have children because we wanted to live for something bigger than ourselves, and enjoy the fullness that comes from experiencing life with children, so after 1 ½ years of marriage we began trying to conceive. With the PCOS diagnosis we knew conception may be difficult so after 6 months of trying and not conceiving on our own we sought medical help. After 3 ½ years of tests, procedures, surgery, and infertility drugs, we were mentally and emotionally exhausted.
Throw in the Towel?
We were working at the same company at the time and frequently drove to and from work together. After driving home from work in silence one day, each feeling the weight, hopelessness, and uncertainty of years of infertility, we parked in the driveway. With his hands still on the steering wheel Randy simply said, “Let’s quit.” Since I was the one keeping us from conceiving, I was relieved to hear him say it was time to stop trying. We decided that if the current infertility treatment cycle we were in was not successful we would stop trying to conceive. As I went to bed that night I gave up all hope of ever having children, and sought the Lord in prayer. I was completely spent, too exhausted to say many words. I simply prayed, “Lord Jesus, help”.
Again, the Lord answered. Into my mind came a picture of beautiful, green rolling hills, just like the pastures I loved to walk through as a little girl on the family farm where I grew up. Along with the picture came the words: “I leadeth you to lie down in green pastures.” Immediately the weight, hopelessness, and uncertainty of infertility lifted off me. What relief. What relief!
I knew the Lord Jesus was taking care of me, just as He had when I was a little child. I shared this with Randy, and we went to sleep that night with great peace, knowing the Lord Jesus was in control, leading and directing us. We knew the Lord had a good plan for us, whether or not that plan included children. A few days later the pregnancy test was negative, but it was ok. We had great peace and joy knowing the Lord was directing us, and we stopped the infertility treatments. The Lord Jesus had satisfied us with Himself.
Going the IVF Route
While attending a convention for women with PCOS the next year, we felt the Lord leading us to try in vitro fertilization (IVF), which we hadn’t previously wanted to try. We each underwent more tests so the medical staff could develop an IVF plan specifically for us. Four days before we were to meet with the medical staff to discuss their IVF plan for us Randy called me at work. He told me his neurologist had just diagnosed him as having Multiple Sclerosis. Before I could say anything the words, “He doesn’t have MS”, came into my mind. Which words would I act upon… the doctor’s diagnosis of MS… or the words that had just come into my mind?
I didn’t share this with Randy at the time, but I did share that I was very fearful of what the MS diagnosis could mean for our future. I seriously considered not going through with the IVF, but Randy was steadfast and calm. He simply said, “Honey, it’s only MS. It’s not like I’m dying.” (Years later Randy was told he did not have MS, but a different disease that in rare cases mimics MS. He rarely has symptoms anymore. Praise God!)
Four days later we met with the medical staff as planned. We were trained on the IVF process, how to administer the shots, and completed the necessary paperwork. One question on one form caught Randy and me by surprise… before we could begin IFV we needed to choose what would happen to the embryos that were not transferred, and what would happen to any embryos after we felt our family was complete. We needed to check the box by “Cryopreserve”, or, check the box by “Do not cryopreserve” (destroy) before we could proceed.
Struck by a Question
We were struck by how this one question, on one form would determine the fate of an unknown number of precious lives. Randy and I both firmly believe God is the creator of life, and that life begins at conception. We believed it was up to God to decide whether the embryos would ever be born as children, not ours, so we checked the box by “Cryopreserve”.
After the egg retrieval and fertilization a few months later, Randy and I waited in a small restaurant near the infertility clinic, eager to hear how many, if any, embryos were viable. We hoped for at least a few, to make birth more likely. When the embryologist called and told us we had 15 viable embryos we were astounded and overjoyed! What an unspeakable gift! (October 2002)
We went through one IVF cycle where 3 of the embryos were transferred to me. The next year we gave birth to beautiful, fraternal twin boys. We love having twins! Being a parent is an honor, a privilege, and a great responsibility. Watching our sons grow into thriving, strong young men has been even more rewarding than we imagined it would be. It’s amazing to see how God can create 2 children at the same time, and yet make them so uniquely, gifting them in different but wonderful ways. Both of the boys enjoy spending time with family, robotics, reading, learning new things, experiments of all kinds, and outdoor activities. They are now in high school and are a joy to us every day!! We cannot imagine our lives without them. Experiencing life through their eyes causes us to appreciate all of God’s creation more and more.
When the boys were four years old we decided to give up the remaining 12 embryos for adoption. At the time we were in our 40s which was a bit old, we felt, to possibly have twins or triplets. Randy still had the diagnosis of MS and we were still a bit nervous about how that may affect our future. Had we been younger we would have definitely tried to have more children, but since that wasn’t the case we made the very difficult decision to give up the remaining embryos for adoption.
Passing Joy Along to Others
We felt very blessed to have the 2 children God had given us, and wanted to help another couple, or couples, experience that same joy. After researching online we found the NEDC. We decided to donate the remaining embryos to them because they, like us, believe that God is the creator of life, that life begins at conception, and that God created marriage to be between one man and one woman.
The NEDC asked Randy and me to complete paperwork about ourselves to enable prospective adoptive couples get to know us. One of the questions was, “What is your favorite song?” I love old hymns, and had a difficult time choosing my favorite, but finally wrote one down. After completing the paperwork I kept wondering if I should go back and change the answer to that question. Again, God intervened and very clearly told me to leave my original answer because it would be a special hymn to one of the families that would adopt the embryos. Trusting Him, I left my original answer. (The hymn I had written down did turn out to be very special to the first adopting family, and was a deciding factor in their decision to adopt our embryos.)
After completing the paper work for the NEDC I prayed God would help us choose the right family to adopt the embryos. Two couples came forward rather quickly as possible matches, but neither of the couples adopted the embryos. Nine years went by, with no more possible matches for our embryos. I began losing hope the embryos would ever be adopted, be born, and enjoy life here on this earth.
I hadn’t prayed about the embryos for a long time but that changed after visiting my mom one day. When she asked me about the embryos I was encouraged to pray for them again, but this time in a different way. I realized Randy and I couldn’t possibly choose the right family(s) for these embryos, so we gave that decision completely over to the Lord. This time when I prayed about the embryos I told God I was completely trusting Him to bring forward the family(s) of His choosing, and that whatever family(s) He brought forward we would say “Yes” to.
Less than 2 weeks later we received an email from the NEDC… there was a family in SC that was interested in adopting our embryos! Randy and I cried as we read their bio… we immediately “clicked” with them. This family has biological children, but also has always had a heart for adoption. I was thrilled to find out there would be no large age gap between their children and our sons, because their oldest biological child is only about 2 years younger than our sons! This couple gave birth to fraternal twin boys the following year.
While the first adopting couple was pregnant they decided to release the remaining embryos back to the NEDC. So again, I told the Lord we would say “Yes” to whomever He brought forward. It wasn’t long that we received another email from the NEDC with another prospective adopting couple. After reading their bio Randy and I didn’t feel a particular connection with them, but remembering our commitment to trust God with the decision, we said “Yes”. But before we had completed the necessary paperwork for the NEDC the couple changed their mind, and decided not to adopt our embryos.
A Laugh and a Tear
A few months later a couple in TN came forward to adopt the remaining embryos. Again, Randy and I laughed and cried as we read their bio… we immediately “clicked” with this couple just like we did with the first couple! The adopting mom has PCOS, like me, and they both have a heart for adoption. Their embryo transfer happened the day after the fraternal twin boys were born to the family in SC. The TN couple gave birth to identical twin girls the following year on the same date our twin sons were born, exactly 15 years previously!
We’re absolutely thrilled with both families God chose to adopt our embryos. They have a high regard for God, serve Him faithfully, and highly value family and children. We are very grateful we trusted God to choose the families to adopt these embryos. All of these beautiful children belong to God. He created them and has a perfect plan for each one. God has just entrusted them to us for a time.
This past summer our family had the joy and privilege of meeting the two amazing families God chose to adopt our embryos. We were a bit nervous, wondering what it would be like to meet, and to see our biological children. But after visiting and spending time together we felt this is the way God had planned it all along, and the way it was supposed to be.
Both families warmly welcomed us and expressed their gratitude to us for choosing embryo donation. Our family is very grateful for them… for choosing adoption, and for allowing us to be a part of their families. They are both very sweet families, and were very sensitive to how we may have been feeling. It’s a great joy to see our biological children thriving in their families, and so very loved. Our families have much in common. We all feel like extended family. Our sons and their children had great fun playing together the entire time we were together… our sons were like “Rock stars”! We text and email frequently, sharing photos, family updates, and what’s going on in our lives. We’re amazed and grateful for how the Lord is beautifully weaving our families together.
Answer to Prayer
While Randy and I were trying to have children, for so many years, my prayer was always that if God did give us children that He would somehow use our story, and the children He gave us, for His glory. I believe God is now doing this, through the NEDC and our three families. My prayer for these children from so many years ago has been answered. God, through His mighty power, has accomplished infinitely more than we could have asked or thought.
We’re very grateful for the work of the NEDC. Everyone we spoke to was genuinely caring and compassionate. When the families came forward to adopt the embryos the staff at the NEDC was very helpful, and sensitive to how we may have been feeling. They spent as much time talking with us as we needed, and made sure we knew we could call them at any time with questions, concerns, or for counseling. While the moms were pregnant and after the children were born the NEDC helped all 3 families begin communicating with each other. We’re grateful for their wisdom and support of how to best go about getting to know our adoptive families. Were it not for the NEDC we wouldn’t have the joy of knowing these two precious families, and seeing our biological children. Thank You!!