The old Christian theologian John of the Cross spoke of a condition he called “the dark night of the soul,” and embryo adoption parents Brian and Ashley Baird are well-acquainted with its agony. The dark night is a period when a pervasive sense of distance from all that makes us feel happy, inspired, warmed or reassured sets in. Walking through it is not for the faint of heart. Healing certainly requires help. But those who walk wisely also see this difficult season as a chance to grow spiritually, and to ponder what God might be up to.

In the case of Brian and Ashley, the dark night looked like this: half a decade of infertility, two failed rounds of in-vitro fertilization, and dreams of a large family dashed. “This was a dark time for us,” Ashley recalls. “We were very upset at the reality that we would never have children that were genetically ours.”

Brian and Ashley aren’t Pollyanna in looking back on this season of struggle. They admit grappling with such an unwelcome reality took considerable time. “After years of frustration and grieving, and finally acceptance of our situation, we began looking into adoption,” they share. Notice that Brian and Ashley didn’t move forward before they were ready. But as they took time to heal and ask what God might have around the corner, they stumbled upon embryo adoption. The National Embryo Donation Center’s high success rate and great reviews impressed them. “We were so excited at the prospect of having children and being able to experience the entire pregnancy process as well.”

A sense of hope had replaced their previous despair as the Bairds traveled to the NEDC in Knoxville. NEDC President and Medical Director Dr. Jeffrey Keenan performed their frozen embryo transfer, and the result was worth waiting for. Brian and Ashley’s son Braden is now two years old. “He is a wild, funny, sweet, and full-of-life little boy,” Ashley says. “Finally we have been able to have what we dreamed of for so long.”

The story, however, just gets sweeter. This Christmas will bring some more very special gifts. Ashley is pregnant with twin girls from a second embryo transfer with the NEDC, and they will arrive in December. “God has truly blessed us,” Brian and Ashley affirm. Ultimately, the stretching of their faith has strengthened it.

“Dr. Keenan and the staff at the NEDC have been with us through it all, and have always been supportive and available throughout the entire process,” Brian and Ashley say. “We will forever be grateful for the joy that the NEDC has helped bring to our lives.” For the Bairds, God has kindly ushered in better days. Perhaps David put it best in the Psalms: Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.

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.