As three-month-old Corrie rests nestled in Kevin Long’s arms, an observer would not suspect there was anything unusual about this scene. The infant lays enveloped in love. That love is written across Kevin’s face as he peers into the sleep-enshrouded face of his daughter.
But how Corrie Long came into the family of Kevin and Anna Long is nothing short of a miracle. Her arrival is also a testament to the enormous amount of love this family possesses.
Corrie Long’s story actually began two years ago. Her parents, unknown to the Longs, went through the in vitro fertilization process in hopes of conceiving a child. The process actually involves creating several embryos in hopes of having a successful pregnancy. Not all of the embryos created through this process are actually used. Corrie, a five-day-old blastocyst, was not used at that time. Instead, she was frozen through a process known as embryo cryopreservation. She could have remained in that state indefinitely; however, her biological parents elected to put her up for embryo adoption.
Before continuing with Corrie’s remarkable journey, some background information on the Long family is needed.
Kevin and Anna, New York natives who now reside in Webb, have four biological children of their own – John, 14; Ellie, 12; Alexandra, 10; and Emmalynn, 8. They also have a daughter they adopted, JamieKate, 5. John was born in Dothan while Kevin was stationed at Fort Rucker. Ellie and Alexandra were born in New York while Kevin was stationed at Fort Drum.
Kevin, a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point, was deployed to Afghanistan shortly after Emmalynn was born (in New Jersey). That deployment convinced the Longs that the military life was not for them.
It was also after the birth of Emmalynn that the Longs thought their family was large enough.
“Basically, after our fourth child was born, we weren’t going to have more children,” Anna Long said. “We made that permanent decision, but we made it hastily. We regretted it soon after. We felt the Lord wanted our family to be larger. Kevin and I yearned for a larger family. That got us into the foster care system – foster care to adoption. That led us to JamieKate. We started fostering her in 2010. She was our first foster child of the five we had. We were blessed to be able to adopt her almost two years after we started fostering her. She was five months old when we started, and in 2012, we adopted her.”
A year later, the Longs, very familiar with south Alabama from Kevin’s tour at Fort Rucker, decided to leave New York. That decision was moved along, when Kevin’s employment allowed him to work from home. The move came in March 2013.
“Dothan was our first choice,” Anna said. “It’s a good place to raise children. We loved it here, when Kevin was at Fort Rucker.”
As the family settled into their new home, the desire to add to their family grew stronger.
“On Facebook we follow several pro-life groups,” Anna said. “One particular month the discussion was about embryo adoption. We couldn’t believe it was an option. As a family, we really started praying about it. We also did some research.”
“I’ve seen a lot of people confused as to what is involved in the IVF process,” Kevin said. “From this process there are embryos that have not been used. They are frozen. The big question is, ‘What happens to the babies that are frozen?’ In this process there needs to be a decision.”
He noted there were five possible decisions. The baby could be aborted, discarded, donated to science or be kept frozen indefinitely. Kevin and Anna were intrigued by the fifth option – the couples involved in the IVF process could give their embryos up for adoption. Currently, there are more than 600,000 cryopreserved embryos. Many of them have the potential to be adopted.
“We’ve adopted one of these couples’ babies from the IVF process,” Kevin said. “We weren’t involved in any way with the IVF process. We adopted Corrie.”
Part of the research Anna mentioned included holding discussions with a family that went through the embryo adoption process.
“As Christians, you want to make sure you’re doing the right thing,” Kevin said. “We prayed about it for a couple of years. Like Anna said, we talked to people who understood what’s involved.”
Corrie was adopted by the Longs in May 2014. Anna had to take a series of injections in preparation for Corrie’s transfer into her uterus. A sibling was also transferred but, unfortunately, did not survive.
“It was neat to go through this process with our children,” Anna noted. “They knew exactly what was happening and why I had to have the shots before the transfer. They know she is not biologically part of us.” Anna gave birth to a very healthy Corrie (named after Corrie ten Boom) in January of this year. Traditional delivery – not so traditional beginning.
“The Lord opened this door, and it has been a huge blessing for us. She’s a little miracle. We’re nothing special (for doing this process). All of them (cryopreserved embryos) are God-given life. Each one of our children are God-created miracles.”
The Longs shared their amazing story with one important goal in mind.
“Our prayer is that people will read this and look into it (embryo adoption) and rescue these babies,” Anna said. “We had no idea about it except that we saw it on Facebook. It’s unfathomable to me that you don’t hear too much about it.”