Scott and I are blessed in how we are able to make decisions so easily together. We’ve bought two houses together and on both occasions we’ve walked in for the first time and knew within ten minutes that the house was the one and how we would make it work. We’ve planned whole vacations in an afternoon. We have the same parenting sensibilities (and we’ve had the opportunity to exercise them now up through and including the teenage years!!), the same financial risk profile, the same preferences for close friends, even the same food palette (with the one notable exception of desserts… but we somehow make that work!!). Our compatibility really has been a blessing in our marriage and contributed to a great deal of happiness.
But one thing neither one of us ever thought we’d be making a decision on was selecting embryos! Fortunately, one of the underpinnings with both of us is we don’t concentrate too much on a decision until it’s upon us. We’ll have little conversations here and there, and then we’re both prepared when the time comes and we step across the finish line. We also are both optimists and don’t dwell on the negatives of what could come out of a decision, or more accurately we both know that if we’re walking in God’s light He’ll lead us to the right decision.
When we finally made the decision to move forward with adoption and began the process, we had some sense that we’d come to a time and place when we’d get matched with eight-cell little people, but we couldn’t imagine the details of how that would happen. That’s when God sent us our first angel, by way of a wonderful woman named Clydene Elkins, Patient Coordinator in Dr. Keenan’s NEDC office. Clydene was the first person we spoke to as we started our adoption process, and looking back we can see how truly God-lead she is at what she does and how truly blessed we are for knowing her. I could not imagine the weight of advising so many couples on such a monumental decision as bringing a child or children into their lives and this world that otherwise may not be born, but Clydene does it with such grace. It’s almost as if she knows which questions are coming next, which details could wait until further down the line, and ultimately the right decisions will be reached. Whenever we spoke with her, she put us at ease.
Once we were approved through Bethany as candidates for adoption, we began the matching process with Clydene. She asked us a couple questions… were we open to embryos from a couple that used a sperm or oocyte (egg) donor, would we be open to combining embryos from two couples to reach the ideal number available for transfer day… and then she took care of the rest. She had the answers and photos from our application, and she explained that she did her best to match couples with similar features, preferences, and backgrounds but that it’s really in God’s hands. We were good with that.
It was an amazing feeling receiving the first two profiles for review. Scott and I sat down in the living room that evening and began reading. Admittedly, there is very little information provided… basic medical history (including family and any related offspring) and simple answers to questions such as education and hobbies. We had no idea what we were looking for but knew we’d know it when we saw it. The first two couples seemed like perfectly fine profiles, but they just didn’t seem to fit us. It can be overwhelming thinking you’re selecting the potential future medical conditions of your child or children. What Scott and I concluded was, we weren’t looking for pristine family medical history just ones that were comparable to our own. For example, both of our families are splattered with bouts of cancer, but our hearts are strong as oxen. We also realized we were looking for a similar intangible sense of enthusiasm for bringing a life or lives into this world.
We spoke to Clydene the next day and told her our initial reactions. We actually felt badly for asking to see additional profiles, as if we were rejecting these perfectly fine people. Again, she eased our concerns, saying it wasn’t a problem and would get back to us later that day with other options; we needed to feel like it’s a fit. When she did and we had the opportunity to review, we knew she had selected the right match.
Our donor couple had that bounce in their personal answers that we were looking for. The other things didn’t seem to matter, although we did all have similar profiles. Also, our donor couple had conceived with the assistance of an oocyte donor. Clydene had explained that for some adopting couples this is not a preference because one side of the child’s or children’s history is anonymous, but we didn’t seem to be worried about that. We had basic medical history, and the oocyte donor (age 24 at time of embryo creation) already had two healthy children of her own. Additionally, our donor couple had one healthy child, a daughter, from the same set of embryos. My heart actually went to the notion that the mother-donor and I would have a lot in common… giving birth to our precious children regardless of genetics. Also, our donor couple had 16 remaining embryos, meaning there likely would be one or more adopting couples after us (God willing)… what a thought for a family reunion some day!!
But what cinched the decision was James Taylor. To the question, “What is your favorite song?”, our husband-donor answered “Anything James Taylor!!” (exclamation marks included). I could go on for pages about how music has been an underlying theme in the various chapters of my life, like a soundtrack with meaning, but no matter which artists come and go James Taylor has always fit the times. From when I was a small child in the early 70s and my dad would pop Sweet Baby James into the dash tape deck, to the day I graduated from undergrad and as our row started walking to the stage my best friend whispered “10 miles behind us and 10,000 more to go”, to Scott’s and my wedding day when we toasted to “My Romance (doesn’t need a thing but you)”.
Scott and I saw James Taylor together live about five years ago on the campus of Berkley, as he should be seen… under the stars and on the lawn. We look forward to our next time, where “That’s Why I’m Here” will have a whole new meaning…
Pay good money to hear fire and rain
Again and again and again
Some are like summer coming back every year
Got your baby got your blanket got your bucket of beer
I break into a grin from ear to ear
And suddenly it’s perfectly clear
That’s why I’m here.
Hey JT, you’re about to have two more fans!! Prov 3:5-6