After four years of dating, Tim and Ellen were joyfully married in January 2013. They always talked about having children. Tim frequently joked that he wanted 2.5 kids (the national average). Ellen’s younger brother was adopted from Russia at the age of two, so adoption was a part of the couple’s discussion about building a family. What they didn’t realize was how soon adoption was going to play a role in their lives.
Married two years, they began having discussions about starting a family. They started by adopting their four-legged kid. One who is white with black spots, and has the cutest ears—their puppy Gus! He was the practice round for “real kids.”
Tim and Ellen began attempting to conceive a biological child in the fall of 2015. In March 2016, having had no success, Ellen made an appointment with an OBGYN. The doctors told her everything looked in order and added she expected, “to see her back in her office pregnant in no time at all!” Unfortunately, that was not the outcome.
While the couple was on vacation in July of 2016, they were listening to a podcast, and an ad came on for a Bible Club ministry in Eastern Europe. A thought clicked inside Ellen’s head, “I want to adopt from an Eastern European country, and I want to do it now.” Immediately, through the magic of the Internet, she began researching international adoptions. They discovered it was going to be extremely expensive. The reality of attachment and potential medical issues were also concerning to them. Tim and Ellen concluded that at ages 26 and 27, and one of whom was still in graduate school, international adoption needed to go on hold.
In October, Ellen confided about their struggles to conceive and the desire to adopt to a co-worker. She then told Ellen about a couple she knew who had adopted embryos and given birth to their adopted child. Immediately, Ellen was intrigued. She went straight home after work and, you guessed it, started researching!
Tim and Ellen were blown away! They thought, “What an amazing thing to be able to adopt children as embryos and to carry them in pregnancy!” They spent several months thinking and praying about how to proceed. Ellen communicated with women who had gone through embryo adoption. She listened to video blogs, researched agencies, talked with agencies, and read the book Souls on Ice.
Tim and Ellen were doing medical tests with a fertility clinic. Finally, a possible reason for their inability to conceive was discovered: Ellen had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). The Reproductive Endocrinologist told them about intrauterine insemination (IUI), but they decided against it. “After getting the PCOS diagnosis, we decided embryo adoption was the right choice for us,” Ellen remembers.
Tim and Ellen considered three different agencies. All had great things about them, but they elected to work with the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption Program. They felt comfortable with the people they interacted with and were able to get answers to most of their questions answered upfront. Tim and Ellen confidence in the program grew after each interaction.
In April 2017, Tim and Ellen submitted their application to Snowflakes. Their home study was completed in about three months. Then it was time to enter the matching phase of the program. Incredibly, Tim and Ellen were matched with a placing family in 10 days. They needed some time to pause, think, and pray. Two days later, they gratefully accepted the placing family’s invitation to match.
Next came the adoption and communication agreements. Once the contracts were returned, signed, and notarized by both families, it was time to ship with embryos to their clinic.
“Our ‘embabies’ arrived at our clinic in December 2017. We expect to have our first frozen embryo transfer in January 2018. It’s amazing to think that less than one year from submitting our initial application we could be pregnant with our adopted child!
“We eagerly await the day of our transfer. We are eagerly awaiting the day we can feel them kick as my belly grows. We are eagerly awaiting the day we can hold them in our arms. We are eagerly awaiting the day we can tell them how much God loves them.”
UPDATE: We did have our first FET in early 2018, but it was unsuccessful. We had two embryos remaining. After taking a doctor-recommended break and spending some time healing, we decided to move forward with a second transfer with our last remaining embryos. This time, the transfer was a success and our son, Ryan, was born March 2019!
In December of 2020, God saw fit to bless us with a biological baby boy. It thrills me to think how it was not that we ultimately could not have a biological child, it was that Ryan was so obviously supposed to be part of our family and that his life is such an incredible blessing to us and everyone around him.
We are grateful for Nightlight’s Snowflakes program, and how God used them to bring us Ryan and the other three children we will not get to hold on this side of eternity. We are grateful to the donor family who entrusted us with the gift of these four children.
I recently recounted to Ryan again his unique journey to us, and his response was “I came home!” How right he was.