Missouri Couple Wins $293 Million Lottery Jackpot, Then Does The Unexpected

Every year, the chance of winning the lottery is roughly one in 292 billion. Despite those odds, millions of people play. Winners may hope to buy luxury cars, an extended vacation, or a bigger house with their earnings. But when one small-town couple from Missouri won the lottery, they didn’t do any of that.

The way this couple spent their money changed many lives. How did the lottery change their own lives? What didn’t it change? Find out by reading this moving story.

A Humble Missouri Family

Mark and Cindy Hill hold their winning check.
YouTube/ABC News
YouTube/ABC News

Mark Hill, 52, and Cindy Hill, 51, are residents of Dearborn, Missouri. Thirty miles northwest of Kansas City, the small town is home to 496 people. Mark and Cindy Hill are parents to a six-year-old daughter, Jade, whom they adopted from China. Their three sons, aged 28, 30, and 31, moved out years ago.

As long-time Dearborn residents, the Hills lived a humble life. They never anticipated that they would overcome one-in-175 million odds.

Not So Well-Off

Mark Hill sits with his daughter and son during an interview.
YouTube/Missouri Lottery
YouTube/Missouri Lottery

In Dearborn, the average annual income is around $22,885. But the Hills struggled to make even that. Mark Hill worked at a hot dog and deli packaging factory as a mechanic. Cindy worked as an office manager until she was laid off in 2010.

Having only one source of income for the family made life hard. Cindy kept an eye out for job opportunities, but leaving their daughter alone during a crucial point in her life wasn’t an option.

Struggles With Money

A man counts US $100 bills.
YURI CORTEZ/AFP via Getty Images
YURI CORTEZ/AFP via Getty Images

Although the Hills didn’t make much money, Cindy opted to stay home and take care of Jade, who was four at the time. During those couple of years, Cindy also took a part-time job as a waitress to put food on the table.

Although the Hills didn’t have to pay for their sons anymore, they still struggled to support their daughter. They had lived in Dearborn for years, but Cindy’s lost job took a toll on the family.

The Decision Of A Lifetime

A Trex Mart gas station is seen in Dearborn, Missouri.
YouTube/Missouri Lottery
YouTube/Missouri Lottery

In November 2012, Cindy made a decision that would change the lives of a lot of people. She stopped at a Trex Mart in the late afternoon. Seeing that the lottery offered a $587.5 million jackpot, she bought five tickets.

At the time, the lottery was the largest in American history. It was, to this day, the most massive win in Missouri. But Cindy understood that her chances were slim, and she didn’t get her hopes up.

An Afterthought Of A Buy

A customer purchases items at a Trex Mart in Missouri.
YouTube/Missouri Lottery
YouTube/Missouri Lottery

Cindy didn’t spend a lot on lottery tickets. Her five numbers came out to $10. Instead of choosing her lucky numbers, Cindy let the machine choose for her. She bought these tickets casually, without a strategy that some other buyers use.

Cindy even forgot about the numbers for a while. In her words, “I stuck it in my car, and they stayed there all night.” She had no idea that these numbers would become so important.

Little Hope

Cindy Hill sits next to her son during an interview.
YouTube/Missouri Lottery
YouTube/Missouri Lottery

Like many other people who purchase lottery tickets, Cindy didn’t have much hope that they would win. The night before the winning numbers were announced, Cindy told her daughter that they wouldn’t win. “That probably never happens,” she reportedly told Jade.

The next day, Cindy stopped by the convenience store after dropping her daughter off at school. She checked the winning numbers report, and then examined the tickets in her car. The unexpected had happened.

The Win That Changed Their Lives

The Hills' winning lottery numbers are on display.
YouTube/Missouri Lottery
YouTube/Missouri Lottery

When Cindy saw that she had the winning lottery number, she doubted her judgment. “I called my husband and told him, ‘I think I am having a heart attack,'” Cindy told ABC News. “I think we just won the lottery!”

Cindy enlisted the help of her husband and mother-in-law, Shirley. The trio double-checked the winning numbers–5, 23, 16, 22, and 29–and confirmed that they matched up. The couple couldn’t believe that their life had changed with six numbers.

Finally Catching A Break

Cindy and Mark Hill hold up a lottery check for $293.75 million.
YouTube/Missouri Lottery
YouTube/Missouri Lottery

The Hills had won half of the lottery money, totaling to $293,750,000. Cindy and Mark’s financial troubles vanished in one afternoon. Media soon caught wind and called the couple “the Hillionaires.”

With more support money, Mark could finally catch a break from his job. Cindy would no longer have to seek out part-time gigs all the time, and Jade had a college fund. But that wasn’t the end of the Hills’ emotional story. What would they do with the money?

Three Months Later

A sign says
YouTube/ABC News
YouTube/ABC News

Months after the Hills won the lottery, Mark still met his friends for coffee at a local convenience store. Although he initially expressed interest in buying his dream car, a red Camaro, he never did. He kept his old pick-up truck and lived in the same town.

Beyond quitting his job, Mark Hill’s life hadn’t changed on the surface. His family lived in the same house and had no fancy cars. So where did all their money go?

Spending A Fortune On Sewage

A wastewater treatment plant is flooded in Missouri.
Mario Tama/Getty Images
Mario Tama/Getty Images

The Hills remained busy after winning the lottery. First, Mark Hill focused on his hometown of Camden Point, Missouri. He and Cindy donated $50,000 toward a sewage treatment plant.

While this might sound strange to outsiders, it would change residents’ lives. The citizens of Camden Point had to use individual septic tanks for sewage. This new plan would place sewage away from traffic, and residents would no longer have to keep septic tanks on their property.

A Greater Impact Than Anticipated

Mark Hill sits with his three sons and daughter during an interview.
YouTube/ABC News
YouTube/ABC News

When the Hills received their lottery winnings, they pledged to give back to the community. Although some lottery winners would buy an island or build a big house, the Hills preferred to keep their modest lifestyle and focus on bettering the lives of others.

Mayer Kevin Boydston of Camden Point said that the lottery could not have gone to a kinder couple. “They are giving back to the community, just like they said they would,” he explained.

The Hillionaires’ Plans

Cindy Hill speaks during an interview.
YouTube/ABC News
YouTube/ABC News

After Mark announced his lottery winnings on Facebook, the family received a lot of attention. However, the Hills didn’t express many selfish requests. According to Cindy, the couple considered adopting another child.

Beyond that, the Hills said that they would give a lot of the money away. “For some reason, [God] put it in our hands,” Cindy said. “I think to make sure it goes to the right things.” And they did good things with it.

Providing An Ambulance

A pair of ambulances are parked in Missouri.
Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images
Michael S. Williamson/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Along with a sewage plan, the Hills donated $3 million to the fire department of Dearborn. With this donation, the firemen could build a new, larger station in Camden Point, which would provide room for an ambulance.

“How many towns of 500 people have an ambulance service that’s manned 24-7? Very few,” Mark Hills told KMBC. “I’m proud to be a part of that.” Mark, whose parents had been saved twice by firefighters, wanted to return the favor.

Paying 25 Years’ Worth In One Day

Firefighters from Cameron, Missouri stand in front of a firetruck.
Twitter/@FerraraFire
Twitter/@FerraraFire

Walt Stubbs, chief of Dearborn’s volunteer fire department, told HuffPost that the new station would have hardly paid for itself in tax money. “If we had to do it ourselves, it would take 25 years,” he admitted.

The new station wouldn’t just be four times bigger than the previous one. It would also connect to the main roads and highways, which would provide faster relief to those in danger. Before, the nearest ambulance was nearly a half-hour away.

Returning To Their Roots

A High school yearborn from Dearborn shows Mark Hill.
YouTube/ABC News
YouTube/ABC News

The Hills then aimed to help their old high school. Since Mark and Cindy met at North Platte High School, they wanted to keep it healthy for future high school sweethearts. They funded a scholarship for Dearborn’s talented students.

With the Hills’ help, North Platte soon had enough money to function healthily again. Along with providing relief for Dearborn’s students, the Hills set aside college funds for their nieces, nephews, and adoptive daughter. In essence, they sent several students to university.

A New Baseball Field

A student player installs a base on a baseball field.
In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images
In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images

Along with providing a scholarship fund, the Hills donated enough money to build a new baseball field for the Camden school district. The school district had planned to place this new baseball field away from traffic to give the students a better experience.

The Hills donated over $50,000 toward this new field. At this point, Mayor Kevin Boydston was very thankful to the Hills. They provided years’ worth of donations to the Missouri education system.

Staying True To Themselves

The Hill family sits and speaks during an interview about the lottery.
YouTube/ABC News
YouTube/ABC News

After the Hills won, their son, Jason, expressed that he hoped they’d remain themselves. “I hope we all stay very grounded, stay humble, and don’t forget who we are,” he said. After all, many lottery winners immediately opt for a luxurious life.

Mark’s mother, Shirley, believes that the Hills have remained true to themselves, despite the life-changing amount of money. “I’m real proud of them,” she told HuffPost. “They have stayed grounded. That’s their nature.”

Spoiling Themselves A Little Bit

Cindy, Mark, and a spokesperson for the lottery hold up a $293 million check.
YouTube/ABC News
YouTube/ABC News

Although the Hills have directed much of their winnings toward donations, they still spent some money on themselves. According to Shirley, the couple had been struggling financially before the win. Mark managed to quit his job and live comfortably.

Although the Hills didn’t buy a Camaro for Mark or a pony for Jade, they still did some traveling. They took their daughter to the beach, which had been a long-time dream of hers and was a fun vacation for the family.

Leaving Home For A While

A city limit sign signals Dearborn, with a population of 496.
YouTube/ABC News
YouTube/ABC News

“We were blessed before we ever won this,” Cindy said in an interview. Even so, the lottery allowed the Hills to fulfill their long-time dreams of traveling. “We want to go back to China,” Cindy said. Their adoptive daughter, Jade, is from China.

The Hills also wanted to visit Ireland, since they’re of Irish descent. The couple could also visit their kids more often. Beyond that, Cindy said that the family would travel “wherever the wind takes us.”

The Trex Mart Got Rewarded, Too

Lowell Hartell, owner of the Trex Mart in Dearborn, Missouri, interviews about the lottery.
YouTube/Missouri Lottery
YouTube/Missouri Lottery

Did you know that the store that sells the winning lottery ticket gets rewarded? In the Hills’ case, this would be the Trex Mart gas station. They received $50,000. Lowell Hartell, the store’s owner, said that the money would contribute to Christmas bonuses for employees.

On top of that, Trex Mart received $27,000 in ticket sales after the Hills’ win. “It’s been insane,” said employee Kelly Blount. “I would never have thought we would have sold the winning ticket.”

Everyone Knew The Couple’s Generosity

Cindy Hill and her son laugh during an interview.
YouTube/Missouri Lottery
YouTube/Missouri Lottery

Those who knew the Hills were not surprised to see them donating so much of their winnings. “Money changes a lot of people,” said Stubbs. But the Hills “are just good people and are willing to help others.”

“I’ve said all along that these lottery winnings could not have gone to a better couple,” added Mayor Boydston. He was right; their donations would change the community forever. Their winnings also put Dearborn and Camden Point on the map for tourists.

But The Attention Also Caused Trouble

The Hill family sit in the Dearborn's high school for a TV interview about their lottery win.
YouTube/Missouri Lottery
YouTube/Missouri Lottery

Although the lottery win made life easier in some aspects, it caused trouble in other ways. After announcing his newly-acquired money on Facebook, Mark received hundreds of friend requests. He only posted it to assuage rumors that were circulating in the small town.

With all the news coverage, the Hills had plenty of curious people look into how they spent their money. According to the couple, some people have even sneaked into the family’s backyard.

Most Winners Aren’t This Responsible

A man holds a bundle of Mega Millions lottery tickets.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Don McNay, an author who studied lottery winners for over 30 years, says that the Hills are “beyond exception.” Most lottery winners don’t donate that much of their earnings, and a few even squander them.

According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, 70% of people who win a large amount of money lose it all within a few years. For example, Jack Whittaker, already a millionaire before willing a $315 million lottery in 2002, went bankrupt four years later.

The Hills Could Receive Ten Years Of Comfort

The Hill's Missouri house is seen.
YouTube/ABC News
YouTube/ABC News

Despite the stories of winners quickly squandering their savings, the Hills have a solid shot at long-term satisfaction. According to a 2018 study, large monetary winnings generally provide “overall life satisfaction.” This satisfaction usually lasts for around ten years before dropping.

According to the National Endowment for Financial Education, winners who don’t squander their earnings live well. Researchers found that people who win large sums of money often remain wealthier than before, even after ten years.

In Return For Their Kindness

A stone engraving on the Hills' property spells
YouTube/ABC News
YouTube/ABC News

Because the Hills had sacrificed some of their wealth for the community, residents at Camden Point decided to honor them. On July 16th, 2016, the Camden Point Fire Department dedicated its newest building to Mark and Cindy Hill.

Inside the building, open space was made available for locals to visit and learn about the Hills’ generosity. Of course, the Hills were thankful, but they never made a huge fuss about it. They never expected a reward for their kindness.

Tragic News For The Family

Mark Hill is seen holding his daughter, Jade, on his lap.
YouTube/ABC News
YouTube/ABC News

Sadly, the Hills’ joy would not last forever. On March 15th, 2019, Mark Hill passed away. He was 59 years old. He left behind his wife, four children, and six grandchildren. Before he died, Mark’s father passed away as well.

The Hill family conducted a private service for Mark. His legacy stays cemented in the Camden Point community. The family requested that, instead of flowers, mourners could donate funds to the Camden Point Fire Department.

Their Legacy Lives On

Cindy and Mark Hill hold up their lottery check happily with a representative.
YouTube/Missouri Lottery
YouTube/Missouri Lottery

Although Mark Hill passed away, his generosity lives on through his wife and all the lives he influenced. “He’s worked hard all his life,” his son Jason said after the Hills won the lottery. That hard work and selflessness put Dearborn on the map and reminded everyone what genuine kindness is.

Members of the Camden Point Fire Department will never forget the Hills. “I mean, his generosity just knows no bounds,” board president Steve Flock said about Mark. “It’s just an amazing family.”

They Were Having Trouble Getting Pregnant

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Kevin and Nicole had been married for a few years, during which they had tried to get pregnant to start a family. They kept trying, but with no success. They never gave up, and were willing to try anything.

They couldn’t have known how things would turn out, and the road to starting a family ended up being rougher than they could have ever imagined. Still, they knew in their hearts that this is what they wanted to do.

Lianna and Shaun Have Five Kids

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The couple were friends with Lianna and Shaun, who lived in East Moriches, New York. Just as Kevin and Nicole were trying to get pregnant after their wedding day, Lianna and Shaun wanted to start their family right away. Together they have five children and love having a big family.

After five pregnancies, Lianna considered having more children with her husband. Little did she know that she would end up being pregnant sooner than originally planned. And this time the child wouldn’t biologically be hers.

Lianna Wanted To Help Her Friend

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Having no luck getting pregnant, Nicole and Kevin considered finding a surrogate to carry their child. Although they were unsure of what that relationship would be like, they knew that if they wanted to start a family, they would have to trust the woman to keep them in the loop.

Lianna shocked everyone when she announced that she would be willing to help the couple have a child by becoming their surrogate. For Nicole and Kevin, this was the best case scenario, since they were already close-knit friends with her.

Lots Of Love & Support

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Surrogacy is a unique experience. Dr. Richard Klein was the obstetrician who planted the embryos in the procedure and said that it was “so much fun” having both couples appear at the doctor’s appointments, contributing so much love in hoping for a baby.

It was July 2016 at this point, and the embryos had been planted. Both couples arrived at the doctor to hear whether the embryo had taken, and whether Lianna was pregnant with their child.

Waiting For Good News

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In the days leading up to the appointment, both couples were nervous, but especially Nicole and Kevin. They had prayed for a baby for so long, they wondered how much longer they could hold on to hope. Lianna had done everything correctly, going through the procedure of having the embryo planted. Now all they had to do was wait.

Finally, the big day arrived when they would find out, and everyone’s emotions were running high.

Hoping To Start A Family

wedding

The Barattini’s were hoping for a baby ever since their wedding day in 2010. The happy couple looked forward to their future together, and wanted to raise their children in Smithton, New York, where they lived.

But time after time, Nicole still wasn’t pregnant. She went to the doctor’s to find some answers that would help her conceive. But the news that she received was not what she was hoping to hear. It seems that the Barattini’s plans were not going to happen.

Health Issues From a Young Age

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Back when she was 16-years-old, Nicole began noticing small bumps appearing on her skin. A few small bumps turned into bumps covering her entire body. When she went to the doctor, suffering from a fever and fatigue, they discovered that her eyes had also turned jaundice.

The doctor took blood samples and found that her level of platelets was dangerously low. While the average adult has between 140,000 and 150,000 platelets in their blood, Nicole only had 8,000.

Diagnosed With An Autoimmune Disease

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After seeing the doctor, Nicole was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, or TTP. Still just a teenager, Nicole was shocked at the diagnosis, which could be fatal. TTP causes blood clots to form around the body and Nicole was in immediate danger.

After her diagnosis, she stayed in the hospital recovering. She was lucky to have made it to the doctor in time to be treated, as things could have ended up being a lot worse.

TTP Is A Rare Blood Disorder

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So just how much at risk was Nicole? Blood clots caused by TTP have a 95% mortality rate if they aren’t treated immediately. The rare blood disorder increases blood glycoprotein in hemostasis, which causes different parts of the body to experience blood clots.

Nicole’s symptoms of fatigue, fever, and bruises all match up with TTP, which affects 1 out of every 100,000 people. Most of whom are adult women. Nicole was part of the 10% of this population whose case begins before adulthood.

It Affected Her Later On

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Thankfully, the doctors were able to find suitable medication to manage Nicole’s TTP. Because of it, she was able to live a normal life and not worry about waking up with a fatal blood clot. Because of this, her condition wasn’t on her mind often.

But when she went to the doctor to find out why she wasn’t getting pregnant, Nicole learned that if she were to get pregnant, her TTP medication would most likely harm the baby. Due to Nicole’s condition, it would be unsafe to go off the medication as well.

Nicole Shares The Bad News With Her Husband

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After learning that pregnancy would be too risky for her, Nicole went home, devastated by the news. A while later, her husband Kevin came home, and instantly knew something was off.

He recalls, “I got home from work and Nicole had that look on her face like something was wrong and I’m never going to forget it. I said, ‘What’s wrong?’ and she said, ‘The doctor doesn’t think we can have children.’ And you know, nobody wants to hear that.” She explained the risks and he knew it was true.

Pregnancy Would Be A Huge Risk

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The difficult part for Nicole was knowing that she could in fact conceive, but the pregnancy would be very high risk, both for her and the baby. She explained, “I was able to conceive, but I wouldn’t be able to have a healthy pregnancy. And it would result in death of myself or the baby.”

It was clear that it would be too dangerous for Nicole to fall pregnant, and she would need to find another way to achieve her dream of having a family with her husband.

Nicole Thought About Taking The Risk

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Nicole was absolutely heartbroken that she wouldn’t be able to carry her own baby, and it took her a while for the news to sink in. She was incredibly frustrated that she was able to get pregnant, but that the doctors told her not to.

She even told Kevin that she was willing to risk everything, but he said no. Nicole was grieving a loss and the couple took time to cope with it all.

Searching For A Safer Option

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Through it all, they were still trying, emotions running high. Eventually they decided to stop trying to conceive, and face the facts they were presented. They needed to calm their hearts and listen to their heads, because this was a very serious decision.

Then, Nicole decided to freeze her eggs and think about searching for a surrogate, since it would be a safe method of starting their family. They also considered adoption.

Adoption Is Expensive

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One of the first options the couple was considering was adoption. For Nicole and Kevin, the most important thing to them was that they had a family, and whether or not the children were biologically theirs, wasn’t the most important aspect.

They quickly found out that adoption is incredibly expensive, and that they didn’t have the funds to make adoption a viable option for them, especially since they would need to save money to raise the children, too.

Legal Fees Through The Roof

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There’s no question that there are lots of children out there who need a loving home. But the way the system works, makes adoption an extremely expensive option for couples. Part of what makes adoption so pricey is the legal fees involved, going through the process.

According to Adoptive Families, international adoptions finalized in 2015 and 2016 cost an average of $42,000. Domestic adoptions for newborns averages at $37,000. While their hearts said ‘yes,’ the couple’s bank account wasn’t ready for this cost.

Thinking About Surrogacy

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Adoption appeared to be too expensive for the couple, so they turned to their next option: surrogacy. They switched gears and started researching the process. Right away, they were devastated by the price tag – more than $75,000. As it turns out, surrogacy is even more expensive than adoption.

Still hoping to make it work, Nicole contemplated who would be willing to carry the couple’s child for free. She said, “We had heard stories that sisters carried and mothers carried, but I don’t have a sister, and my mother is over the age.”

NYC Was An Expensive Place For Surrogacy

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New York state’s laws on surrogacy came as a surprise for Nicole and Kevin. They had no idea that it was illegal to pay someone to act as a surrogate in the state. To work around the law, they would need to pay someone who lived out of state to carry the baby.

But this was also a problematic option, as it would be expensive to travel to and from doctor’s appointments, and they really wanted a surrogate who they could be close with.

Surrogacy Is The Best Option For Nicole

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Still, the couple decided that they wanted to go with a surrogate. The medical process includes creating an embryo by IVF, and implanting it into the surrogate. The embryo includes the mother’s egg and the father’s sperm, so although another woman is carrying the child, biologically, it would be related to the couple.

Like many other couples, this is what Nicole and Kevin saw as their best option. They still needed to find a way to do it, however.

Her Friends Show Interest In Helping

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No longer a secret that it wasn’t safe for Nicole to get pregnant, the couple shared their dream of finding a surrogate to carry their firstborn. They were amazed at the supportive response from their friends and family. Many of them even offered to become their surrogate!

It seemed that things were looking up for the couple, once they put it out in the universe that this was what they wanted. However, they were just as quickly disappointed when they found out through initial testing that the women who offered weren’t fit to carry.

Lianna Had Just Given Birth Herself

lianna

Lianna was a friend of Nicole and Kevin’s. She and her husband Shaun have five children together and the couples had known each other for 20 years. Lianna loved being a mother and couldn’t imagine life without her children.

When she heard of their situation, she was empathetic. She contemplated offering to carry their children, but she had just given birth, and wasn’t sure if her body was ready to carry another child yet.

The Medical Bills Add Up Quickly

medical

In order to qualify to become a surrogate, a woman must be entirely healthy. Because the process is costly, and the chances of becoming pregnant decrease as women age, a lot of factors are considered before the procedure takes place. And as Nicole and Kevin found out, not all women are a good fit to become a surrogate.

Once the woman gets the green light to become a surrogate, however, there’s a good chance within three tries of planting the embryo that they will fall pregnant.

Their Plans Are Brought Up At Dinner

friends

In December of 2015, the two couples met up for dinner one night. It was clear that Kevin and Nicole were going through a stressful time in their lives. Lianna and Shawn wanted to lift up their spirits, without prying too much into their situation.

Of course, the topic couldn’t be avoided, and they soon started discussing having children. Nicole was visibly upset about not being able to have a child, and Lianna, a mother of five, wanted to help.

Are Five Kids Enough?

family

After listening to Nicole speak about their child bearing woes, Lianna said something completely unexpected. Kevin recalls what she said at the dinner table that night as, “Lianna goes, ‘You know I have five children, Shawn and I want to have maybe one or two more.'”

“And [Nicole and I] looked at each other with a puzzled look, like, ‘You have five kids, why would you want any more?'” What she said next caused everyone to tear up.

The Greatest Offer Of All Time

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It would almost seem like throwing it in her face that Lianna was talking about having a sixth child when Kevin and Nicole couldn’t even have one. They didn’t know what to think. But Lianna kept talking. Kevin said, “And she goes, ‘No, not for me, for you guys- I’d like to carry a child.'”

Nicole and Kevin were completely in shock. Kevin said, “The two of us, just forget about it. We just, we all started crying.” Finally, the couple felt that they had found the answer to their problems. This was meant to be.

Sharing The Experience

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Lianna knew in her heart that it was the right thing to do. She said, “I was blessed to have five kids, and they are all amazing, and I couldn’t picture my life without them. And to see this family so deserving, it broke my heart.”

It was the joy that Lianna got from being a mother that led her to wanting to give that experience to someone else, who otherwise wouldn’t be able to have children.

It Was A Big Decision For Both Of Them

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After giving birth to her fifth child in 2015, Lianna and Shawn felt that their family was complete. Lianna’s heart was so full with all the love she had for her children that she felt she had more to give. She was considering becoming a surrogate to help another couple have a family.

Lianna brought the idea up to her husband, Shawn. She let him know that if she chose this path, it would require extra help from him in taking care of their children. He agreed with her idea.

Everything Was Looking Great

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Through tears, Nicole and Kevin accepted Lianna’s offer of carrying their child on the spot.They were over the moon about their friends’ selfless offer, which would help them get what they’ve always dreamed of.

Lianna passed the medical tests with flying colors, making it official. The timing was right and everyone was on board. Nicole and Kevin couldn’t have been happier with finding the perfect person to bring a baby into their lives.

Not This Time

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After passing the medical exams, Lianna went to the doctor’s to have the embryo planted. It would only take one week to find out if the embryo took, but it felt like an eternity for everyone involved. Although they felt like everything was falling into place, the couple had been disappointed before.

They knew that nothing was guaranteed, and all they could do is wait and pray. The two couples went back for the follow up appointment, only to learn that Lianna wasn’t pregnant.

Trying Again

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Although it didn’t happen the first time, neither couple was ready to call it quits. The doctor was optimistic and told them that this time around they would plant more embryo, increasing their chances of Lianna getting pregnant.

They had to wait yet another week to find out if Lianna was pregnant with the second round of embryo. Again, everyone was on the edge of their chairs, praying and hoping that this round would take.

Twins!

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Once again, both couples arrived at the doctor’s office to find out if Lianna was pregnant with Kevin and Nicole’s child. This time, the doctor had good news to deliver. He told them that the embryo had taken, and that Lianna was pregnant!

He had even better news on top of that… they were pregnant with twins! Everyone was overjoyed and emotional as they heard the good news. Kevin and Nicole would be welcoming not one, but two babies into their family that year.

Sharing The News

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Labor Day weekend rolled around and Kevin and Nicole thought it would be the perfect time to share the news. 60 of their closest friends and family were in attendance at a Labor Day celebration, and they were all about the hear the couple’s big announcement.

They stood in front of everyone and asked the guests to be quiet for a moment, that they had something they wanted to share. No one could have expected to hear what they would say next!

Welcoming a Son and a Daughter

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On February 10, 2017 the twins arrived. Kevin and Nicole welcomed a boy and a girl. They named them Dominic and Luciana. Both babies were born healthy, and everything with Lianna’s pregnancy went just fine.

The couple was overjoyed holding their newborns in their arms, and couldn’t be more thankful to Lianna. “It’s probably the most amazing thing,” Kevin said, “because you think it’s the end of the road, now here we are with two beautiful children.”

They’re Now Family

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Of course, Lianna and Shawn became the twins’ godparents. They had already been there through every step of their children’s lives, and they would always be connected.

Nicole said of Lianna, “I don’t have a sister, but I’d consider her like that. We don’t hold back, we are open, honest, and I am constantly turning to her for guidance. Everything worked out. Nicole was able to stay on her medication to manage her TTP, and they were still able to welcome two kids.

Advocating For Surrogacy

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They didn’t stop there. Now having successfully started their family, Nicole and Kevin wanted to share their experience with the world, and advocate for surrogacy to become legal in New York State and beyond.

The couple began working with New York legislators and reproductive specialists to change the laws. Kevin said, “We are happy that our story went public to help others in the time of need.” It’s honorable how open the couple made their experience so transparent and honest, to show others that it’s possible.

It Was All Worth It

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Nicole and Kevin never take Lianna’s kindness for granted. Without her, they couldn’t have made their happy family. Nicole wants other women in her position to know that they too, can find someone willing to take the journey of surrogacy. And it’s all worth it.

“There are people out there, like Lianna, that will do it out of kindness. It’s easier to find them than it seems. It’s never the end of the road.” The couple continues to fight to legalize surrogacy.