We’re the Watsons! If you are reading this, you probably know us, but maybe you don’t know our whole story. Here’s the story of what God did in us over the last 9 years, from my (Skyler’s) perspective:
Chad and I got married in May of 2009. After being married for 6 months, we made the decision to discontinue birth control and start a family “in God’s timing.” You know when you say something because you think you’re really mature and spiritual and then it comes back to “bite” you in a way? God’s timing ended up being five and a half years later. God used that time to grow us and mature us, to teach us that children are a blessing but not the blessing. That if all we have is Christ, we have more than we need. He gave us friends that loved us and prayed with us, he put families in our lives that let us “practice” on their kids, and he grew us closer to one another.
Chad and I had talked about adopting from very early into our dating relationship, and we both felt confident that it would be a part of how we built our family. Like a lot of people, we thought we would have some biological kids and then move on to adopting more children into our family. I always say that if it weren’t for our infertility, we would have gotten around to adopting a lot sooner. I’m sure that feels backwards for some people, but infertility can be so confusing (and expensive) and one of the heartbreakingly wonderful parts of trying to have a baby is that there is always a chance right around the corner. Realizing you aren’t pregnant can be devastating and a lot of times it was, but a week later you find yourself thinking, “maybe this time!” and on and on it goes. Our plan was to apply for an adoption from South Korea when I turned 25, and in the mean time we would keep trying for a pregnancy.
Right after I turned 24, we moved across the country, sold our house, and then 3 weeks after our house closed, we turned right around and came back home to Springfield (that in itself is a whole other story of a way that God saved us from ourselves). Chad started a brand new career essentially overnight, and because we’d moved across the country twice and sold our home at a loss, we were a mess financially, too. God provided us both with great jobs, my parents graciously opened up their second bedroom to us (only 3 months after they’d become empty nesters!), and we spent four months paying off a lot of debt, mourning the life that we thought we were going to have, and regrouping for the one that we were living in now. That was a hard, hard year and at the end of it we were drained. In November we decided to do one more “hail mary” attempt at conceiving naturally, and if that didn’t work out, it was finally on to adoption.
I didn’t get pregnant in November, and around that time we got word that South Korean adoptions were lagging and slightly unstable, so we made a new plan and hired a consultant to help us adopt domestically. We told all of our families over Thanksgiving and Christmas that we were adopting a baby, and rolled our eyes at every well meaning family member who told us about their friends who finally got pregnant after trying to adopt. Here’s a thing you should know if you don’t already: “just relaxing” to get pregnant is NOT A THING. Fertility is not a mind game. Moreover, we have never seen adoption as a kind of “remedy” to solve our infertility. We knew we would adopt before we ever knew we were infertile. For us, adoption wasn’t a choice we were making because we couldn’t get a baby “the other way.”
We moved into our own place on December 30th, and I was so excited that after thinking, “we’ll probably bring a baby home here,” at most every place we’d lived before that, we really WOULD bring a baby home to this house. And then guess what, guys? On January 6th, I found out I was pregnant. As my friend Rachel pointed out, I’d just become one of those stories we rolled our eyes at weeks before. We were excited, but also scared. Pregnancy can feel so fragile, and especially after 5 years without conceiving, it felt even more delicate. I was so afraid we’d lose this baby. As C.S. Lewis wrote, “We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.” We had learned over the last 5 years that He was good even in our suffering, but that didn’t mean I was eager to suffer more. Blessedly, our baby grew and grew. We heard his heartbeat at 11 weeks and “told the internet.” We started getting our house ready for a baby and since we didn’t know if I’d ever conceive again, we decided to put the adoption on hold so that we could focus all of our attention on enjoying this experience.
God’s timing really is always best, so we probably shouldn’t have been surprised to find out a few weeks after learning about our own baby, that my brother and sister in law were expecting a baby, too. Archie was born on September 11, 2015 (the only day in September I repeatedly said I hoped he wouldn’t be born on - because God thinks my plans are funny), and one week later his cousin Harvey was born. Two little boys who are growing up together; who we pray will one day rock on a front porch together as old men, shooting the breeze with a lifetime of shared memories between them.
We felt confident (and so did my midwife and my OB) that now that my body had figured out pregnancy one time, it would be able to do it again more easily. When Archie turned one and I hadn’t miraculously conceived again, we decided to seek help from a new doctor and focus 100% on trying to have another baby. We have hoped to have a large family, and I saw my (now confusing) potential fertility as a gift to steward. If I only had a few years left of maybe being fertile, we wanted to make the most of them! Over the last two years, I’ve had my blood drawn a lot, I’ve taken lots of different fertility medications, and gotten a couple of diagnoses. What we know now is that Archie’s miraculous, natural conception was probably the only miraculous, natural conception we’ll ever get. And that’s okay. I can lay down my dreams of being a glowing 45 year old pregnant woman like Joanna Gaines someday because God has better ideas than me about how to grow our family.
A few times, at two separate doctors offices, it had been mentioned to me that my particular form of infertility made me a great candidate for embryo adoption. I internally rolled my eyes at that suggestion. I didn’t really know anything about it, other than it sounded like something that people who are really desperate to experience pregnancy would do. God has done so much work in us over the years, and one work He did was He made me really content with the pregnancy experience I had. It was enjoyable and pretty much drama free, and if that was it for me, it had been enough. But I’m also pretty prideful and still sometimes trick myself into thinking I know best, so when embryo adoption was suggested to me I would think, “that is too weird for us,” and didn’t even bother googling it.
When we reached a point in fertility treatments where we both (especially myself) felt done, we launched back into conversations about what to do now. We are open to domestic and international, so what is fastest? What would be best for birth order, best for Archie, etc, etc. We would think we had settled on one option and then pray about it and realize we weren’t settled. This went on for a couple of months. One morning not too long ago, really, I came across a story of a family who adopted their daughter as an embryo. As I read what this mom had written about the testimony of their daughter, who had been frozen as an embryo for 5 years before she was placed in her adoptive mother’s womb, I cried and cried alone on my couch.
We believe life begins at conception, we believe all babies are made in the image of God and valuable, but I had not looked at these embryos and seen them as people. After some research and discussion, we knew pretty much immediately that this is what our family is being called to right now. Over and over these last few months, God has brought Psalm 139:16 to my attention: “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”
God has invited us into this completely miraculous, but kind of “sciencey” way of giving these babies the only thing that stands between them and an opportunity to come to know Christ on the earth: a womb. We are excited and scared all over again. We don’t know of anyone in our “real life” that has done this before, so this is wholly uncharted territory for us. But we are confident that God is sovereign, that He knows everything there is to know about the embryos that we will adopt, and that His plans for our family are better than our own.
We’ve been told to expect the process (from application to transfer) to take 8-10 months. There is no guarantee that the embryos we transfer will survive (the success rate is 60-65%) but we are passionate about giving these babies a chance, and are ready to do more than one transfer if that’s what we are called to do. As we walk this road, we covet your prayers for wisdom, provision, boldness to share what the Lord would have us to share, and ultimately a healthy pregnancy and baby (or babies!!!) at the end of this journey. Thank you for reading, for praying, and for giving. We thank God for you.
Here are some resources we have found helpful. If you have questions about embryo adoption or infertility, we would love to talk to you. We are open books!
The Gospel Coalition has some great articles about Embryo adoption and infertility:
Other articles we found helpful: