I'm the organic mother of three units of twins, however 2 units had been born to different mothers 15 years after conception

  • Marie Johnson produced 15 embryos by way of IVF. Two resulted in twins and he or she donated the remainder.
  • Two extra units of twins had been born to different dad and mom 15 years after the embryos had been frozen.
  • The youngest set of twins was born on the identical day because the oldest.

This as-told-to essay is predicated on a dialog with Marie Johnson. It has been edited for size and readability.

We had a big household reunion in fall 2019. The youngsters performed within the recreation room of the lodge we might rented, laughing and joking across the pool desk and pinball machine.

It was particularly touching to observe my twins, Kurt and Alex, searching for the 2 different units of twins who shared their appears and DNA.

It felt phenomenal to know that although I used to be the organic mom of all six youngsters, 4 of the twins had been born to different {couples}. They resulted from my husband, Randy, and I donating our leftover embryos from in vitro fertilization to 4 would-be dad and mom. 

We desperately wished to have youngsters of our personal

Randy and I struggled to have a child for 3 years earlier than we started fertility remedy round 2001. I had polycystic ovary syndrome, which tousled my menstrual cycle. The situation was nearly actually the explanation we hadn’t been in a position to conceive.

We began with the least invasive therapies, akin to Clomid and a complete of 10 rounds of intrauterine insemination. Nothing labored. We tried to maintain our spirits up. However after we received these unfavourable take a look at outcomes, it was such a downer. We desperately wished to have youngsters of our personal.

The Johnson family pose for a selfie near a rushing river.

The Johnsons had been the primary to have twins. They had been born in June 2003.

Randy Johnson



At first, we dominated out IVF. It was largely the expense and that I used to be nearly 37. However we met a fertility physician on the Mayo Clinic who specialised in girls with polycystic ovary syndrome. We had been fortunate sufficient to create 15 embryos in October 2002 on our first try.

Our 12 leftover embryos had been frozen and saved for future use at a clinic

We had a recent switch of three embryos and two of them implanted. I gave start to our fraternal twins on June 11, 2003. They had been presents from God.

We froze the remaining embryos as a result of we might have liked to have had extra youngsters. However Randy had just lately been identified with a number of sclerosis. It later turned out to be neurosarcoidosis, which might mimic the signs of MS. We thought, “It may not be the fitting factor to do to attempt to have extra.”

Nonetheless, we saved our 12 leftover embryos frozen for about $500 a yr. We wished them to a minimum of have an opportunity of life. I knew a youthful lady could be extra prone to have a wholesome start.

Fraternal twins James and Matthias Gardner pose in their backyard.

James, left, and Matthias Gardner had been the second set of twins born after the Johnson’s IVF process. They arrived in November 2017.

Jeni Gardner



In 2008, we donated the embryos to the Nationwide Embryo Donation Middle, a spiritual group that matches recipients with donors. We now have a powerful Christian religion, and the cryopreservation was free. I used to be informed that not many donors did this, however we ticked the field for an “open adoption.” It meant we may have a relationship with the recipients and our organic offspring. We wished these youngsters to know that we liked them and wish to know them.

There have been a few inquiries from individuals who thought of adopting the embryos. However they did not transcend the paperwork. I received just a little discouraged because the years glided by.

Then in 2016, Jeni and Danny Gardner got here ahead. They lived in Memphis, Tennessee, greater than 800 miles from our residence close to Minneapolis-St. Paul. I believed, “That is our household.” I used to be impressed that they wished to undertake regardless of having 5 youngsters already.

Identical twins Aliza and Eliana Hefner sitting in a playground

Similar twins Aliza, left, and Eliana Hefner had been the third set of Marie and Randy Johnsons’ organic youngsters. They had been born in June 2018.

Amy Hefner



They received pregnant. We talked all through the being pregnant and have become shut. Randy and I had been delighted when Jeni gave start to Matthias and James in November 2017. They had been fraternal twins, identical to Alex and Kurt. Our teenage sons thought it was very cool to have two little brothers.

It felt like a miracle when Amy and Robert Hefner of Charleston, South Carolina, selected to undertake our remaining embryos. The switch passed off just a few days after the Gardner boys arrived.

2 units of my organic twins share a birthday. They had been born precisely 15 years aside.

One of many embryos resulted in being pregnant. Then, to everybody’s shock, it divided in half. Amy gave start to their similar women, Aliza and Eliana, prematurely at 32 weeks. Fortunately, they had been wholesome. Extremely, the final set of twins was born in June 2018 — 15 years to the day after Alex and Kurt had been born. They share the birthday.

Jeni, Amy, and I known as and texted one another from the get-go. They had been Christians, and we had loads else in frequent. It made sense that the children ought to meet their siblings.

We flew to Charleston to see the Hefners in August 2018. Aliza and Eliana had been 3 months previous. Our boys held them of their arms. Then we drove to Memphis to satisfy the Gardners. We had been very emotional after we hugged Matthias and James. The six siblings had blue eyes and, funnily sufficient, similar-looking ears to Randy’s. The guidelines of their ears fold down a bit. It was cute.

The Johnson, Gardner and Hefner families pose for a photograph wearing name badges.

Marie Johnson described the Johnson-Gardner-Hefner clan — together with the Gardners’ 5 organic youngsters — as “bonded.” The group is proven at its three-family in 2019.

Randy Johnson



All three households met up in 2019 after we stayed within the lodge close to Nashville, Tennessee. Issues felt so actual. Randy and I posed for photographs with our six organic youngsters. Everybody received on properly — particularly the twins and the older Gardner youngsters. We had the most effective time. We now have a particular bond. Jeni and Robert had their organic son, Colin, in 2020. The twins are actually 19, 5, and 4. Collectively, we’re a household of 20.

We’re grateful for one another.

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