Couple fights for custody of biological twins born via surrogate

Tammy and Jordan Myers turned to a surrogate after Tammy battled breast cancer.

ByGma Team via via logo
November 24, 2021, 2:17 PM

Tammy and Jordan Myers' twin babies, Eames and Ellison, were born via a surrogate last January.

Now nearly one year later, the Grand Rapids, Michigan, couple is still embroiled in a legal battle to adopt their twins, who are their biological children.

"Since they got out of the NICU, we've had them with us every second," Tammy Myers told "Good Morning America." "But we are still not listed on the birth certificate as their parents."

The Myers, already parents to a daughter, Corryn, began their journey to surrogacy in 2015 when Tammy Myers was diagnosed with breast cancer and doctors told her that becoming pregnant would carry a risk.

"With my cancer, it was highly hormone positive, so carrying a second baby would likely bring my cancer back," she said, adding, "We were just getting started with our lives and planning to grow our family."

Tammy Myers froze her eggs and the couple said they decided to grow their family by using a gestational carrier, whom they found through social media and whom they did not compensate.

VIDEO: Michigan couple fights to gain custody of their twins who were born via surrogate
VIDEO: Michigan couple fights to gain custody of their twins who were born via surrogate
ABCNews.com

The Myers said they worked with an attorney from the beginning of the process because they were aware of Michigan's surrogacy law, the Surrogate Parenting Act of 1988, which requires anyone who has a child through surrogacy to be either recognized by a judge as the legal parent or go through the adoption process.

In the United States, states have the power to decide surrogacy laws.

Michigan joins Louisiana and Nebraska in having the strictest surrogacy laws in the U.S. currently, according to Creative Family Connections, a surrogacy agency and law firm headquartered in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

The Myers -- whose story was reported by People magazine this month, National Adoption Month -- chose to apply for a pre-birth order, which would have put their names on the babies' birth certificates at the time of their birth and given them all legal rights to their children, according to Tammy Myers.

The couple was in the middle of applying for a pre-birth order in January 2021, when their babies were born eight weeks early.

"We were still kind of in the middle of starting the legal process and applying for a pre-birth order, so all of that was thrown into question for us," said Tammy Myers. "Literally minutes after they were born, we were on the phone with our attorney and talking to the hospital social workers and just trying to figure out if we were allowed in the NICU and could we make medical decisions."

Added Jordan Myers, "Here we had our dreams coming true and it just felt like it was the floor was falling out from beneath us and now we were kind of being thrown into a bit of a tailspin from a legal perspective. It was really hard."

VIDEO: Michigan couple fights to gain custody of their twins who were born via surrogate
VIDEO: Michigan couple fights to gain custody of their twins who were born via surrogate
ABCNews.com

Because a pre-birth order was not approved by a judge before the twins' birth, the Myers have had to go through the adoption process, according to their attorney, Melissa Neckers.

"Because there isn't a clear path to obtain full custody if a pre-birth order is not issued, it's tricky," said Neckers, adding of the Michigan's surrogacy law, "It's something that really needs to be updated to keep up with the technological advances with fertility in general."

The Myers were appointed as their children's legal guardians at birth. They have also been the sole caregivers for Eames and Ellison since their birth.

Jordan Myers said the adoption battle has been a "huge hit" to the family. In addition to the emotional struggles, they have also had to go through the normal rigors of qualifying for adoption.

"We have to go through background checks and home inspection, a lot of rigorous things that you normally have to go through when you're doing an adoption process for a child that's not your own," he said. "Our babies are biologically ours, so it's a hard pill to swallow."

The Myers said they hope to see the law changed in Michigan so that other families do not have to go through what they have experienced.

"I do wish that the laws were different in Michigan," said Tammy Myers. "I wish that we didn't have to fight for the rights to be the parents of our own biological children. Honestly, that's my only wish."

The couple said they also hope to complete their own adoption process soon and move forward as Eames and Ellison prepare to turn 1.

The Myers said they have the support of their gestational surrogate, who continues to be in their family's lives but is not involved in Eames' and Ellison's upbringing.

"She has stood right behind us and would want nothing more than for us to be recognized as the legal parents to both babies and ultimately for us to push for a change here in Michigan so another family never has to walk this path," Jordan Myers said of the surrogate. "She's been amazing."

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