Life is full of surprises, and your actions have consequences. Two sayings that are both simple yet undeniably true. They're also sayings that some people might automatically attribute to misfortune or hardship, but both have the potential to encompass an immense feeling of joy and love with their unpredictability.
One couple experienced just that after donating their unused IVF embryos, later learning what happened to them when they received an unexpected email that would change their life for better.
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The Origins Of A Family
We're all familiar with the routes toward parenthood, whether traditional or otherwise. Natural pregnancy, adoption, surrogacy, in vitro, and so on. Each form has a slew of hefty decisions one must make before, during, and after, some with potential long-term consequences.
Well, "consequences" might not be the correct term for this story. Long-term returns might be more fitting—blessings, even—as one couple's decision regarding their in vitro treatment wound up coming back to them decades later.
On October 18th, 2000, couple Brooke and Chris Martin had twin boys, Matthew and Christopher, after struggling through years of infertility.
Though they tried for a traditional conception, they eventually used in vitro fertilization to help with getting pregnant, which thankfully led them to the birth of their two sons.
"They were perfect," Brooke told TODAY Parents.
Since getting pregnant was such an arduous process, the couple knew they would not be having more children and thus had a decision to make regarding their leftover embryos.
A Heavy Choice
They could dispose of the embryos, donate them to science, or donate them to another couple in need.
They chose the latter, having no idea the journey that would follow.
"We had faith they would be taken care of," said Chris. "Infertility is trying and emotional and IVF is trying and emotional. We knew whoever received our embryos was going to love them and take care of them because we went through the same process. We know what it's like to want children so badly.”
In The Back Of Their Mind
Though they felt confident in their decision, they still never stopped thinking about their donated embryos, wondering what would happen to them.
"I went through moments over the years, where I was like, 'Oh my gosh, you know, maybe we should try and find them,'" Brooke said.
Neither of them could have expected that they'd be hearing about these same embryos over 20 years later.
In January of 2021, the Martins received a message from a young man named Thomas Monroe who found some interesting results in his 23andMe results, the kit given to him by his father for his 18th birthday.
Brooke and Chris found Thomas on Facebook and were shocked.
"I burst into tears," Brooke said. “He looked just like our boys. I was like, 'That's our kid — there’s no doubt.”
A Hidden Detail
The three began speaking, exchanging emails back and forth, when Thomas shared an exciting bit of information.
He was not the only son born from their donated embryos. He was one of a set of triplets, two boys and one girl.
Thomas admitted that he waited a bit before telling the Martins about his siblings, Peter and Lauren, because he was worried they would "freak out."
He Wasn't Completely Wrong
The two were beyond ecstatic about the news. "I started shaking, but in a good way," Brooke said, “I looked at Chris and I said, 'We have a daughter. We have a girl.'”
Chris and Brooke soon began speaking with Thomas' father, Trey, having learned that his mother, Becky, recently passed away from cancer.
"We wanted to let Trey know that we don't expect anything and we wanted to set boundaries that he was comfortable with," said Brooke. Chris also added, "I wanted him to know, 'Listen, I'm not looking to be their dad, cause they’ve got a dad.'"
Arms Wide Open
Trey was not only understanding, but touched by the Martins' excitement regarding his family. He was more than happy to have them become involved in the lives of his kids.
He wrote back, "Thank you for the gift of my children. That's all my wife ever wanted."
Not only did the parents get along, but so did the kids, with the Martin twins getting along swimmingly with the Monroe triplets. They now refer to one another as siblings and chat frequently, both families growing even larger.
A Perfect Blend
"There was this immediate feeling of familiarity," Thomas said.
In July, Trey and his kids were invited to a Martin family reunion. They got to meet aunts, uncles, and cousins, blending in with their new extended family perfectly.
"I remember wanting to playfully punch Matthew and Christopher like I would with my regular brothers," said triplet Lauren. "We were raised so similarly, I think that's why.”
She and Christopher specifically bonded over singing, learning to perform duets together. "We sound the same. It's crazy."
A Brighter Future
Lauren also believes her mother is "smiling down on them from heaven."
"I've grown quite close to Brooke and I know my mom would want that," Lauren said. “She was so grateful for the gift that Brooke and Chris gave her and my dad. We wouldn’t be here without them."
The families are sharing this story in order to encourage more people to donate their embryos for adoption.
As Brooke put it, "I know there are a lot of 'what ifs?' but there are some things we're not in control of — God is in control of that. And look what he did."
Love All Around
The Martins' and Monroes' story is so, so touching. Not only did the Martins make the generous decision to donate their embryos, leading to the creation of another wonderful family, but the families blended at the perfect time to provide both Trent and his children the extra support needed to work through the grief of a lost mother.
It's far from what someone might consider a traditional family, but that's beautiful! Embracing moments like this that are against the norm, welcoming an unexpected addition to your world, that's what makes life so unique and magical. The lives of these children and their parents have been blessed with even more love, which should never be shied away from.