The day we got the news about Brian, we walked out of the fertility clinic unsure of what to say to each other. There were simply no words. Just aching silence that said more than any words could.
And because we had driven separately to the noon appointment, we didn’t have to muster up any meaningless clichés or empty promises or brave faces. We just said, “I love you, see you after work” and got in our cars.
I shut my car door and all the outside noise of movement and bustle and activity—of life—became muffled and distant. I was alone. Without Brian, without a plan, and without hope.
I watched Brian drive away first, knowing that he had just been broken in a way even I could never imagine. Less than 30 minutes after he learned that he’d never father a child with his eyes or my smile, that he’d forever carry shame that he couldn’t make me a mother, and that he’d eventually have to tell all his family and friends that his body was broken, he had to go back to his office. He had to pick himself up, walk into his building, and carry on with his day as if everything he’d ever thought about his future wasn’t just completely shattered.
I know he was afraid that I’d lose respect for him that day—that I’d see him as less of a man.
He was wrong.
My respect for him only grew as I watched him courageously go right back to work. He didn’t call in sick for the afternoon or work from home where he could hide away. He wanted only to provide for us and to take care of me, just as he’s always done.
My mind completely blank, I turned the car on, shifted into reverse, and began to back out of my space. Before I hit the end of the parking lot, hot tears streamed onto my cheeks. My chest tightened and my breathing collapsed into shallow gasps. A sense of loss that I’d never known began to settle deep into my being.
And then, the words “Standing in your ruins, feels a lot like the end” pierced my consciousness.
The song on the radio—a song I’d never heard before—absolutely gripped me in that moment.
“Right now, all you see are ashes where there was a flame. The truth is you’re not forgotten, ‘cause Grace knows your name.”
The road blurred in front of me as I began to cry harder—this time not out of sadness, but out of surrender. God was speaking directly to me. That song was on the radio at that exact moment for me. I hung onto every word, so broken and so desperate for God to breathe new hope and new life into my shuddering body.
Then, the chorus smacked me straight in the heart and I struggled to breathe.
God’s not done with you, even with your broken heart and your wounds and your scars.
God’s not done with you, even when you’re lost and it’s hard and you’re falling apart.
God’s not done with you, it’s not over, it’s only begun. So don’t hide, don’t run. God’s not done with you.
Out loud, half shouting and still full sobbing, I prayed, “God—help me. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what’s next. But I need to know it’s not over. I need to know you’re not done.”
And man oh man, has that prayer been answered time and time again in the last four months.
For the next several days, Brian and I grieved. We processed. Cried. Talked. Prayed. Hurt. Got mad. Got sad. As days turned into weeks, time began to put a little distance between us and the rawest parts of the pain. There was some slow, but sure, healing. Brian had his second analysis and his follow-up with the urologist which only solidified the initial results.
And as I drove away from the appointment with the urologist, “God’s Not Done with You” by Tauren Wells started playing again.
This time, I smiled. I cried again too, but now the tears were laced with joy, thanking my God that he gives peace beyond understanding. Thanking Him that he clearly has a plan that’s better than mine. That He is not done.
See, as God was healing our hearts, He was also growing a seed in them—a seed that had been planted months ago.
Months earlier, before we had any appointments with fertility specialists, I began listening to a podcast called Joy + Infertility. In it, women were bravely sharing their stories of infertility. The stories were all different—different fertility factors, different choices, different treatment plans, different outcomes. But they all had one thing in common: they were processing their experiences with infertility through God’s Word. Joy coexisting with sorrow. They were resting in His grace and believing in His goodness, knowing that any of His promises that are only realized in part here and now would be realized in full on the other side of eternity.
These women all had hope. Not hope in an outcome. But hope in Jesus to be everything they could ever want or need. Baby or no baby. (Side note: I’ve since been interviewed on the Joy + Infertility podcast! Check out my episode!)
In June 2019, on Brian’s and my 6th wedding anniversary, I vividly remember listening to this one specific episode while showering: “A Story of Embryo Adoption”. This woman talked about going through in vitro fertilization (IVF) and having her second baby through that process. She and her husband decided two children was enough, but after having gone through IVF, they still had eight leftover embryos that hadn’t been used. She shared that she and her husband felt that each embryo was a human being created in God’s image, and each embryo deserved a chance at life. Ultimately, they donated their remaining embryos to this place called the National Embryo Donation Center in Knoxville, TN, where other families could adopt the embryos and then become pregnant with them, essentially giving birth to adopted children. Another family did indeed adopt their embryos and achieve a successful pregnancy, and now that couple has a little boy. This woman shared how this little boy looks exactly like her own son, as they are full genetic siblings.
… What?? What IN THE WORLD is THIS??
Yepp, I was as confused as you are right now. But the seed was planted.
I mentioned it to Brian after getting out of the shower, and his immediate response was, “Um… no… that sounds super weird.”
And it is super weird.
But as we’ve come to learn, it’s also super beautiful and redemptive. (In another post, I’m breaking down the FAQs of embryo adoption and what this process really is, so please check that out when you’re done here!)
Over the next few months, we researched and learned more about embryo adoption, and Brian and I discussed it more and more. The idea stopped seeming so out there and instead started to become exciting.
And on the day that we got the results of Brian’s analysis, amid the million chaotic, swirling, crushing thoughts I had, one thought broke through the mess, its peace starkly contrasting every other thought: embryo adoption.
Over the next month, Brian and I prayed. We listened for God’s leading. We fasted. We sought counsel. We talked with family and friends. And we began to sense that God had shut one door, only to open this one.
On October 11th—Brian’s 30th birthday—we submitted our application to the National Embryo Donation Center (NEDC) in Knoxville, TN to begin the process of embryo adoption. And now, that process is well under way.
So that’s where we are now. We’re in the middle of this beautiful, messy, and incredibly redemptive process of adopting embryos with the hope of expanding our family and giving birth to our adopted children.
We don’t know every detail moving forward. We don’t have a perfect plan. We don’t know how the story ends.
But we know it’s only begun. We know God’s not done.
Did this post leave you with more questions than answers regarding embryo adoption? Never fear! I’ve written an FAQ-style post to help you understand what embryo adoption is and how it works.