Reason for infertility: 'We don’t have a uterus, we need to find friends who do'
Dan, left, and Will Neville-Rehbehn, of New York City, cry while holding their son, Jackson, after Yessenia Jones, a surrogate, gave birth at OHSU Hospital in Portland, Ore., on Oct. 24, 2016.
Will and Dan Neville-Rehbehn with their son, Jackson.
The Neville-Rehbehn’s were matched with a surrogate in 2015 several months after reaching out to All Families Surrogacy in Oregon, an agency that has ten staff members, many of whom were surrogates themselves.
Carey Flamer-Powell, the founder, and director of All Families Surrogacy, said her agency's screening process of surrogates, who must have given birth before, can take up to four months. She said the hardest part is getting the potential surrogate's medical records approved to carry another pregnancy, because doctors want to ensure that the pregnancy is not risky.
Flamer-Powell said her agency also sends a social worker to the potential surrogate's home to ensure that the woman lives in a healthy situation and her children are well taken care of.
"It takes lots of time and money, and so many hopes and dreams are invested in this person that there can't be any issues whatsoever," Flamer-Powell said.
After surrogates are vetted, they are matched with potential couples based on whether their personality and expectations are in line with the potential parents. In Will and Dan's case, they Skyped with Yessenia Jones, who is a mother of two, and her husband, Alex.
"It just felt like, oh these are two people who are supposed to be in our lives," Will said. "It felt like meeting friends and a huge sigh of relief it wasn’t hard or difficult to talk to them even though the conversations were about really serious difficult things."
Within a few weeks of matching, the couple was texting and talking on the phone with Yessenia, and after the embryo was successfully implanted, they continued to Skype through doctors appointments and check-ins.
For Yessenia it was important to explain to her son that the baby she was carrying was not related to them.
“We never wanted him to think somebody was adopting the baby," she said. "This is very much their baby, it’s not related to mommy it's not related to daddy, the doctor put the baby in there for mommy to cook it. That was the easiest way that you could explain it to a 5-year-old for him to get it and be 'OK, I get it. And he is good with it.'”
She said many people wonder if it's hard for surrogates to give up the baby they carried for nine months, but she said in reality it's harder to let go of the everyday contact with the parents and the friendship that develops.
"We have these friends we talk to every single day and obviously that is going to change," she said. "That I think is more of the attachment than it is to the baby, the attachment is to the friendship we have created."
A photo of Will and Dan's son, Jackson
Yessenia gave birth to Will and Dan's son Jackson Strange Neville-Rehbehn on Oct. 24, 2016, in Oregon. Dan said they know that Jackson will inevitably wonder who Yessenia is, what connection he has to her.
"(He) will come home and be like “you know is Yessenia, my mom?” and the answer is no, you don’t have a mom you have two dads, and that’s really special," Dan said.
Will and Dan believe that their child will have a relationship with Yessenia and her family because they have grown so close through the process.
"It’s very similar to how we felt about wanting, developing a friendship with Yessenia, it wasn’t something we went in looking for, but it developed naturally and organically," Dan said. "I think it will be the same with our kid and Yessenia and that relationship will develop naturally over time."
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