Tamisha English is an embryo adoption mom now. But her parenting dreams started in the back of a church, when she was just 8 years old.
“My dad was the pastor,” Tamisha explains. “We didn’t have a nursery then, and I called myself the Church Nanny. When someone’s baby would cry, I would ask if I could hold them. I would always find myself watching everyone’s kiddos.”
No Bundles of Joy
But fast forward to adulthood, and it was starting to look like those days as a one-woman nursery were as close as Tamisha would get to motherhood. During their two years of dating, she and now-husband Julius decided to have children soon after their wedding. They married in the summer of 2004 and started trying. But no bundles of joy were coming, and they wouldn’t be anytime soon. Just mountains of heartache.
So what was the problem? Well, once the doctors started looking into the matter, the real question was: What wasn’t? Relentless endometriosis, cysts, fibroids, polyps. Name a health condition that could block someone from getting pregnant and there was a good chance Tamisha had it. One physician told Tamisha her condition was probably the most awful she’d seen. It was hard for the Englishes to decide which pain was the worst- the physical (Tamisha’s discomfort was severe), emotional or financial.
“Before our first fertility treatment, the doctor suggested we do surgery to help with the pain and clear up this catastrophe that was going on in my body,” Tamisha says. “We are not rich people. We were devastated with the cost of all this.”
A high price? Unquestionably. But worth it, they figured, if it meant relieving Tamisha’s agony and providing hope for a pregnancy. So she went through with the surgery. The Englishes then tried several rounds of the limited fertility treatment they could afford, but without success. Not long after, there would be a recurrence of Tamisha’s physical problems and another surgery. Worn out, it was time for Julius and Tamisha to get off the merry-go-round for a while.
Fortunately, pregnancy wasn’t the only route to parenthood. Through adoption, God brought Julius and Tamisha their son Kayden, now 6. “We say that his birth family adopted us into their lives,” Tamisha says, grateful for a positive open adoption experience. “We truly expanded our family the day he was born. He is a happy, loving boy. He loves monster trucks, being outside biking, playing, and shooting hoops.” Typical boy, and what a blessing!
Tamisha was still curious, though, about whether she could ever become pregnant. “I felt like after months of praying and hoping, I was led to get on the computer. The National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC) website popped up on my search,” Tamisha recalls. Much about the NEDC and embryo adoption (becoming pregnant by adopting an embryo created by others) intrigued her. For one, the cost was more affordable than infant adoption. Plus, other women facing some of her same physical hurdles had successfully carried pregnancies through the NEDC. “It felt like God was leading me to this facility where a miracle was about to happen.”
The Englishes’ first visit to the NEDC in Knoxville confirmed their positive impressions. The place just felt different than anywhere else they’d been. Their talk with Medical Director Dr. Jeffrey Keenan, who would perform their embryo transfer, was warm and encouraging. “Everyone was wondering where our son was, and they told us to bring him to our next appointment, that they were kid friendly,” Tamisha remembers. “That set the NEDC apart from all the other offices I had visited. It was like everyone had done their homework to get to know us before we even walked in the door.”
Just as becoming Kayden’s parents meant being adopted into his birth family, Julius and Tamisha were now joining the NEDC family. And yes, embryo adoption proved to be the path that finally allowed Tamisha to carry a pregnancy. The Englishes welcomed their daughter, NEDC baby Amariyah, in spring of 2019. They call her their miracle baby. “She is happy and funny,” Julius and Tamisha say. “Her favorite show is ChuChu TV ABCs. She loves solid food, is pulling up, dancing, and loves her yoga poses.”
The Englishes are also in touch with Amariyah’s donor family: parents Bryant and Chelsea, and their sons (Amariyah’s genetic brothers) Bryson and Adrien. They say that relationship is blossoming. Both families will probably meet in person soon.
Overflowing with Gratitude
As they reflect on the amazing ways their family was woven together, Julius and Tamisha overflow with a deep sense of gratitude. “Dr. Keenan, there are not enough words to say how much you mean to us! You have helped us fulfill a lifelong dream,” Tamisha says. “You allow me to have a ‘God story’, to share this blessing that God has given us!” Dr. Keenan and the NEDC team affirm that it’s God who gets the credit, and we’re privileged to serve as His vessels.
Whenever she shares her story, Tamisha ends by quoting 1 Samuel 1:27: “For this child, I have prayed.” That little girl in the back of the church never stopped asking. And the God she trusts now, as then, never stopped holding her hand.