Once a man and a woman decide to blend their lives, what awaits is always something of a mystery ride. For embryo adoption parents Paul and Emily Linville, the ingredients were ripe for that ride to also be a wild one.
Between them, Paul and Emily already had four children younger than 10 when they tied the knot in 2007. The two had met a couple years earlier, both recently divorced, at a group for Christian singles. They knew blending both families would present an added challenge beyond what most newlyweds face. What they couldn’t have known then was that a series of more daunting challenges also lay ahead, including a brush with death.
“At the time of our marriage, we didn’t necessarily plan to have any more children,” Emily remembers. “We both had, though, felt a calling to adopt one day.” They questioned, however, how that calling would materialize. Considering they were both in their second marriage and already had four children, Paul and Emily had their doubts about whether others would want to place another child with them. Plus, the prospect of adoption was expensive.
Those concerns evaporated (at least for a time) once Emily became pregnant three years into their marriage. She successfully gave birth to a son named Charlie. But there were serious complications, including a dangerous condition called placenta previa. That forced Emily to deliver via Cesarian section, and she hemorrhaged afterward. “I had to have a blood transfusion in order to save my life,” Emily recalls. “My doctor said that had that happened during surgery, which is when it normally does, she would’ve had to perform a hysterectomy to stop the bleeding.”
After that harrowing ordeal, the family felt blessed just to have Emily and baby Charlie come away healthy and whole. The Linvilles figured their family was complete.
Strong Sense of Calling
As it turned out, what they figured wasn’t final. When Emily was in her late 30s, she and Paul felt the desire to have another baby. Their attempts, however, ended in heartbreak: first in the form of a miscarriage, and then encountering the roadblock of infertility. Yet the yearning to give birth again wasn’t going away. “I didn’t know how it was going to happen, but I had faith in God that somehow it would happen,” Emily says. “After all, there was a reason I still had my uterus.”
At the same time, Paul and Emily’s sense that they were called to adopt hadn’t gone away, either. It was at this point that a conversation with an acquaintance reshaped the Linvilles’ whole world. A woman they knew was pregnant through IVF and mentioned she wanted to donate her remaining frozen embryo to another family. This concept of embryo donation/adoption was a new one to Paul and Emily. It spurred them to do some Internet research. And that was how they found the National Embryo Donation Center.
“What stood out to us about the NEDC was that it was a Christian organization which valued human life at every stage,” the Linvilles remember. “These frozen embryos were babies that had already been created and just needed a chance at life and a family.” What an answer to prayer, they thought! Emily could become pregnant and actually give birth to their adopted child! This option they’d never even known about could be God’s path to satisfy their long-held longings.
Knox Changes Everything
Indeed, that was exactly what happened. First, though, Paul and Emily endured another trial as their initial frozen embryo transfer with the NEDC failed. The “second try”, however, yielded the bundle of joy they now know as Knox (yes, named after Knoxville, home of the NEDC). Born in the fall of 2019, he’s NEDC baby #875. “Knox is feisty and sweet and has the most beautiful smile that lights up the whole room,” Paul and Emily say. “Our whole family is absolutely in love with him!”
And a large family it is! The Linvilles’ oldest, Hillary and Savannah, are now in their 20s and living on their own. Jacob and Sam are finishing high school and contemplating what paths adulthood might hold. Charlie, 10, is in elementary school when he’s not occupied with video games or his guitar. And newborn Knox completes the puzzle perfectly.
“Honestly, I don’t think either one of us ever envisioned having such a large family, but now we wouldn’t have it any other way,” Emily says. “Through all the pain, heartache, and anguish of miscarriage and infertility, God paved the way for our miracle baby to be born through the work of the NEDC. It is amazing how God works!”