The gift of surrogacy: A story of motherhood

Special Report

SULLIVAN COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) From giving birth to adopting to becoming a step-parent, there are many routes to motherhood.

One woman prayed her motherhood journey would include a surrogate to carry her children.

And that’s when, the amazing happened.

Sullivan county resident, Valerie Hall was busy raising her two children, when she gladly gave birth to another woman’s twins.

“I just thought it was a neat thing that I could give a gift like that to someone else that, you know, couldn’t get that gift on their own,” says Valerie Hall.

More than a decade ago, Hall’s sister attended a women’s Christian conference.

By happenstance or perhaps by divine intervention, she roomed with Jennifer Armstrong.

“We were talking about kids and stuff and I said, well, I would, we would like to have more kids, but it’s going to have to be something that God does for us, because I don’t have, you know, what, I need to carry a baby,” Jennifer Armstrong remembers.

“And my sister said, I know somebody will do it,” adds Hall. “And she said, no, you don’t. And she said, yeah, really? I do.”

Hall and Armstrong met in Worthington where Armstrong was living at the time.

Armstrong had two boys from a previous marriage. Her new husband, Jeffrey, did not have children, but medical reasons prevented Armstrong from giving birth again.

“I told him, I said, you know what? We just need to give it to God.” says Armstrong. “If it’s meant for us to have kids it’ll happen.”

Armstrong, Hall and their husbands went to dinner to see if this arrangement could work.

“I will tell everybody, you can’t do it if your husband isn’t onboard,” comments Hall.

So with the support of her husband and family, fertilized donor eggs were transferred from a lab into Hall.

“We knew after 9 days we had a positive test and so that was, that was really exciting,” says Hall.

“I think it was 6 weeks after the embryos were transplanted that there were two heartbeats. And I was like, you know, there’s our boy and girl,” remarks Armstrong.

While Indiana attorney Michele Jackson did not work with the two women, she has helped guide lots of couples through the surrogacy process. She says many of her clients choose to use agencies who find and screen surrogates.

“They look at medical records like you can’t be a surrogate unless you’ve had a child before. That’s pretty common”, according to Michele Jackson. “Surrogate has to be between certain ages. You know, they won’t take any surrogates that smoke. I mean, there’s all these things that are like your basics.”

But surrogacy is not an option for everyone. It can be expensive

“They are probably budgeting around $100,000,” says Jackson.

The lawyer says that $100,000 can cover the costs of things like fertilizing eggs in a lab, medical insurance, legal fees, paying the surrogacy agency and then paying the surrogate herself.

“Twenty-five (thousand dollar) to $40,000 is what a surrogate in the Midwest or South (receives). The reason they might be paid $40,000 is they’ve already been a surrogate. If they’re a proven surrogate, then they usually charge more. And then, west coast, you’re looking at, $35 (thousand) to $60,000 for just their fees.”

The cost to bring Hayden and Hayleigh into this world was much cheaper.

Hall was not part of a surrogacy agency and was not paid for carrying the twins.

Also, her insurance covered the costs of the births and the lawyer waived his fees.

“I mean, miracles happen,” Armstrong says. “I mean, Hayden and Hayleigh are our miracles and gifts from God.”

The twins keep the two families close. They continue to share pictures and visit each other on a regular basis.

Meanwhile, the attorney says legally surrogacy is easiest if a heterosexual or homosexual couple is married and one or both parents provide genetic material for the baby.

In Indiana, it’s assumed a child born within a marriage is the child of both spouses, so both of their names can go on a birth certificate, even if a surrogate is used.

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