17 May 2014 ~ 5 Comments

Red and Nemo

Yesterday we adopted two more blastocysts, embryos left over from IVF cycles that their parents donated for adoption.


The selecting of the blastocysts is an ordeal, and in some ways the most psychologically difficult part. There were well over a hundred different parental sets to select from, each with one or more frozen blastocysts, each with a page of data. Often times it is an egg donor and a husband, sometimes a wife and husband. They are all anonymous, but we can see parental ages, heights, weights, hair colors, eye colors, ethnicities, occupations. Sometimes there is family medical history and info on siblings.

We struggled more with choosing our embryos this time around. It was so tempting to look for the youngest moms (statistically best chance for live birth), for the parents that look like us (or are fitter than us!), for the smart-sounding occupations (like “aerospace engineer”), or the exotic ethnicities (Iranian!). The process really revealed our sinful hearts, like idols we worship (being attractive! being smart!), and our ugly prejudices (ethnic and socioeconomic). It was humbling but refining, too, as God dealt with us.

We also felt compassion towards the embryos tagged with medical issues in their families, the ones that other adopting parents would be likely to reject as too risky or potentially broken. Did God want us to choose the ones no one else wanted? But then it gripped our conscience that every one of these parent sets equals one or more lives in frozen limbo, each equally precious to God. And since we have gone into this journey intending to mirror the story of how God chose us, totally undeservingly, to go from being His enemies to part of His family, we are ever-aware that God does not choose like NBA owners choose franchise players in a draft. In fact, “God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Cor. 1:28-29).

So this time around we tried to consider a wider range of backgrounds, and both of us felt very comfortable with a list of about ten different parent sets. From there we prayed that God would do the choosing, literally casting lots by pulling the numbers out of a plastic bowl.

So without further ado, please welcome the two newest Gjertsens, #8 and #9. We are calling them Red and Nemo.


Red (upper left) is named for his/her biological mom’s red hair. Red’s biological parents are a married couple who are both really tall. When thawed, Red did not expand fully, so s/he was given a grade of 2 on a scale of 1-5 with the embryo cells scoring an A and pre-placental cells scoring a C. Because Red did not defrost like a champ, and s/he was the last of his/her siblings, the embryologist thawed a second embryo for us from a different set of parents.

Nemo (lower right) got a 4 for expansion, which is pretty good, and A’s (the top score) on both the embyro cells and placental cells, so s/he is looking pretty viable. Nemo, which means “no one” in Latin, is named for the lack of knowledge we have about his/her biological mom. Somewhere down the line the clinics lost her description, medical history, everything. All we know is that she was a 23-year old egg donor. And we know Nemo’s dad’s info and history. That’s it.

Around 12:30pm on Friday we became parents to both Red and Nemo.

Please pray that these little ones implant and grow happily within me! And that they stay away from the c-section scar.


In case you were wondering where the other Gjertsen kiddos were during all this, they were in the capable hands of our excellent friends the Hensons, getting spoiled rotten with love, fun, and food. Percy called Christie “Mommy” the whole time we were gone. He still gave me a big clingy hug and wet kisses when we got back, so I didn’t mind.


5 Responses to “Red and Nemo”

  1. Diane Hamersley 18 May 2014 at 5:44 am Permalink

    Praying for the successful and thriving little lives. God’s richest blessings on you all.

  2. Rebecca Laatsch 18 May 2014 at 9:22 am Permalink

    I am so proud of you. I am praying for God’s hand to be gentle on you as you move forward.

  3. Jessica Hult 18 May 2014 at 3:49 pm Permalink

    You two are inspirational to say the very least. God is so good! Your babies are already greatly blessed; may they grow strong & flourish during these gestational months. Our family is praying for your family daily during this journey.

  4. Sara Thorsby 18 May 2014 at 10:47 pm Permalink

    Praying that God would give you health, peace, and all the desires of your heart. What an amazing destiny He has already written for the lives of you and your children!! Be blessed and fruitful! :)

  5. Julia MacCarroll 19 May 2014 at 11:53 am Permalink

    You & John continue to be in my thoughts. Wishing & praying for positive results.

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