AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — It’s a Christmas gift nine months in the making.
A 38-year-old Columbia County woman offered to be the gestational surrogate for a special couple who couldn’t have a baby.
The simple definition of surrogacy is a woman who has a baby in order to gives it to someone who can’t have a baby. There’s traditional, gestational, commercial, independent– or, in the case of Jessica Cooper and her brother and sister-in-law, identified surrogacy.
A lot of letters that could really be reduced to four: L-O-V-E.
“There’ve been very few times in my life when I’ve felt like the Lord has spoken to me very clearly, without questioning what it was to do, and this was one of those times I knew for sure, without a doubt, that this is what I was supposed to do.”
Evans mom Jessica Cooper has three children.
“I’ve been blessed with three amazingly healthy babies.”
All easy, uneventful pregnancies. It was the opposite of what her brother and sister-in-law, Matthew and Betsy, had experienced.
“They had struggled with infertility for about 8 years and a few years back had decided to freeze some embryos to have for later, just in case, or to try IVF again.”
But that day wouldn’t come. A type one diabetic, Betsy’s doctor told her getting pregnant was no longer an option.
“She mentioned the surrogacy route and I said, ‘I would love to do it for you!’ There really wasn’t a whole lot of thought put into it.”
Husband David immediately supported the idea.
“Of course, this was his sister so that played a role in it, but we both felt strongly that this was something the Lord had put in our lives to do.”
The biggest struggle for Jessica and David was how to tell their children… ages 3, 6, and 9.
“It’s not something that you hear about everyday. None of their friends have experienced this, or talked about this, so it was definitely a brand new topic. And we just kept it very basic. This is just me showing love to them by helping them create a family. And you will have a new cousin! And they were very accepting to it. They had a great reaction, they were super-excited when he got here!”
Betsy & Matthew live outside Atlanta, but they came to all of the ultrasound appointments and got to see the sonogram.
“I knew what it was like, but to go back and remember what it’s like to be a first time mom, you know, seeing it through her eyes, was just as much fun.”
Jessica says she never thought of the baby she was carring as “hers.”
“The Lord is just using me as a vessel.”
And on November 4th, her love-filled mission was complete.
Baby Cooper came into the world at 7:16pm, a healthy 7lb/15oz baby boy!
“Everyone in the delivery room was crying; nurses, doctors, we were all in tears when he was born. The doctors gave him straight over to my sister-in-law, she was able to do skin-to- skin. This was their baby, I was just blessed to be able to carry him for them, but it was never my baby so seeing the joy that he brought to them was enough- and he’s my nephew, too, so I love him on that level as well.”
The ultimate gift… a beautiful baby boy… a Christmas miracle for a couple who truly believed.
“It’s truly been a journey of faith, even with them, starting with their infertility and just having the faith that there was a plan and that they would one day be parents. And watching that come to life and giving them a baby to complete their family, has just been amazing and so joyous.”
Jessica and baby Cooper are doing beautifully, each with their own families!
Surrogacy allows infertile couples, single people, and members of the LGBT community to become parents when they may not be able to otherwise… with one or both parents, in most cases, being biologically-related to their baby.
The website Surrogate.com says, “Surrogacy can be a physically and emotionally demanding experience, and it takes a special person to be a surrogate for another family. However, the women who choose surrogacy agree that seeing a completed family at the end of their journey is the ultimate reward that makes it all worth it.”
Jessica Cooper can attest to that!
Because there are no federal laws regulating the practice, surrogacy laws can vary tremendously from state to state.
Georgia has no defined surrogacy laws, but surrogacy journeys are viewed as legal contracts. Courts will uphold the agreements, as long as they are created in good faith with each party represented by proper legal guidance. Details of the contract, like compensation and parental rights, are determined by the circumstances of the surrogacy. A surrogacy attorney must create a surrogacy contract in order for you to proceed safely and legally in the Peach State.
Surrogacy is legal in South Carolina, but because no laws specifically govern the process, the legal issues with surrogacy and how they are handled will likely vary by county and judge.