In what must be the most amazing surrogacy story of all time, a US woman has eventually regained custody of a child she carried during a surrogate pregnancy, when it was revealed that he was her very own baby.
The gift of a child
When Jessica Allen became a surrogate, she was hoping to provide a childless couple with a much-wanted baby. You can imagine her delight when an ultrasound revealed there was not one, but two babies.
“He started moving the ultrasound around and he goes, ‘Well I definitely see that there is another baby,'” Jessica told ABC News. It was assumed that the babies were identical twins, and that the embryo had split, although Jessica admitted she was “very surprised”.
She’d been implanted with a Chinese couple – Mr and Mrs Liu’s – embryo in April of 2016, fulfilling her wish to “gift” a baby to a woman who couldn’t carry it herself.
“No woman in the world should have to live their life without experiencing the love and the bond from a mother and a child,” Jessica said.
“They look different”
The pregnancy progressed well and when the babies were delivered via c-section, Jess didn’t get to see them. She later did see a photo of the “twins” however, when their mum came to visit her as she recovered from the birth in hospital. The image showed they were most definitely non-identical.
Jessica told The New York Post the new mum seemed upset that Jess had realised something was not adding up with the babies.
“‘Wow! They look different,’ I told her, before she snatched back the device,” Jess recalled.
“One was much lighter than the other,” Jessica said. One baby is Chinese and the other is biracial. “You know, obviously they were not identical twins.”
“They are not the same, right?”
Somehow, Jess got on with her life, heading back home to her two other children, to recover from the c-section. A month later she got a message from Mrs Liu, and things snowballed very, very quickly.
“She sent me a picture of the babies and said: ‘They are not the same, right?’ followed by, ‘Have you thought about why they are different?'”
The Lius undertook DNA testing which proved that one baby was not their own child (and thus had to be Jessica’s biological child.)
“I don’t know how to describe it … we were floored,” Jessica said. “We were like, how did this happen?”
Turns out it happened via the rare phenomenon called superfetation, where a woman releases an egg/eggs AFTER she is already pregnant, and one is fertilised. Jess would have been pregnant with the surrogate child following an IVF procedure, THEN released an egg and then had sex with her own husband, thus fertilising the second egg. Phew. And just like that, two babies are growing within.
Babies conceived like this are born at the same time, just like twins, but they’re not twins because they have separate conceptions. And in this rare case, separate parents too!
Jess says they used a condom, as specified in her surrogacy contract, so that adds a further level of rare to the already very rare occurrence.
Jessica and now-husband, Wardell Jasper, were distressed to find out that the Lius had rejected the baby once they discovered he didn’t share their own DNA. The little boy was being looked after by someone from Omega, the surrogate agency.
Unbelievably, the agency had planned on organising for Jess’s son to be adopted by a different couple – and were keen to charge Jess a fee for the distress they’d caused the Lius.
“Omega contacted me to say the Lius expected between $18,000 and $22,000 as compensation,” she told the Post. It beggars belief!
Reunited at last
It took another month of legal wrangling for Jessica and Wardell to finally be reunited for the first time out-of-utero with their little boy and despite it being a very unplanned addition, the couple say they’re delighted with their newly enlarged family.
“The moment was incredibly emotional, and I started hugging and kissing my boy,” Jess told The NY Post.
The proposed compensation fee was eventually waived, too.
“I just hope other women considering surrogacy can learn from my story,” Jessica said, “and that a greater good will come out of this nightmare.”
We wish this family MUCH health and happiness, moving forward.