Tammy and Jordan Myers are the parents of a nine-year-old daughter named Corryn, and two 10-month-old twins named Eames and Ellison. But according to the couple—who live in Grand Rapids, Michigan—an antiquated state law is trying to tear their family apart.
A Cancer Diagnosis Changed Their Family Planning
When Tammy was diagnosed with breast cancer, her treatment left her unable to carry children. However, she and Jordan still wanted to expand their family. So, they decided to use a gestational carrier for their twins. But due to an antiquated surrogacy law in Michigan, they are being forced to adopt their own biological children.
As their twins’ first birthday approaches, Tammy and Jordan are still in the midst of an adoption case. They must endure home inspections and mental evaluations and seek out letters of recommendation in order to keep their own biological children. Despite the fact that their surrogate Lauren legally agreed to their arrangement.
A Tough Decision
Tammy told People that her pregnancy with Corryn was “difficult but beautiful.” Despite the complications, the moment she saw her daughter Tammy said she looked at her husband and told him she would do it all over again.
“I knew right away I wanted more—I’d wanted a large family since I was a girl,” Tammy said.
When Corryn was two-and-a-half, Tammy and Jordyn moved their family of three back to Michigan from Ohio and bought a house. She said that everything was falling into place as a young married couple, and it seemed like the perfect time to grow their family. But then she found a lump.
“The diagnosis was earth-shattering. Everything moved so quickly because of how aggressive breast cancer is in young women,” she explained.
Because fertility was top of mind for her at the time, Tammy asked about being able to have children. The doctor told her she wouldn’t be able to do it the traditional way. But because she asked the right questions, the doctor put her in touch with the right people who put everything in motion.
“The only way we could grow our family with a biological child would be to harvest my eggs, freeze them, and use a gestational carrier,” Tammy explained. “It was a tough decision for us; it depleted everything we had in savings and put a really big financial burden on our family… It was a hard decision to make, but I’m grateful that we took the leap of faith.”
Michigan Is ‘Complicated’
After posting an emotional message on Facebook, Tammy and Jordan connected with Lauren. She was a friend of a friend and a mom of two who felt called to help a family who couldn’t have children. So, she agreed to be Tammy and Jordan’s surrogate as a gift.
“It’s really complicated in Michigan, and we knew a little of that going in, but it’s hard to [really] know what you’re getting yourself into,” Tammy said. “We went through a fertility clinic in Grand Rapids, met with an attorney, drew up paperwork and a plan, and my eggs were fertilized with Jordan’s sperm. The embryos were implanted into our gestational carrier, Lauren.”
She admits that their attorney did warn them that in the worst-case scenario they would be forced to adopt. But Tammy never dreamed that would actually happen.
She says they attempted to get a pre-birth order, which is something that other Michigan couples in their situation have received. The pre-birth order would have given Tammy and Jordan legal rights to their twins before they were born. But before they could complete the pre-birth order process, the babies were born eight weeks early.
The twins’ early arrival and the incomplete pre-birth order meant the couple had to fight for emergency legal rights to their children. But both attempts were denied, which forced the worst-case scenario Tammy never thought would happen—both she and Jordan had to fully adopt their own biological children.
A 1988 Michigan Law Banned Surrogacy
Tammy says that finding out they had to face this legal battle was “shattering.” She and Jordan discovered that Michigan’s 1988 Surrogate Parenting Act made compensated surrogacy illegal for both carriers and parents. Even if the surrogate isn’t compensated, the law states that any agreement made between the parties is null and void and won’t be recognized in court.
“Michigan’s current surrogacy law was passed in the 1980s as a reaction to the Baby M case, where a traditional surrogate who was biologically linked to the baby changed her mind about giving the child to the intended parents. She fled across the country with the child and spurred headlines, with the nation watching in horror,” Tammy explained.
But she noted that the Baby M case is nothing like surrogacy today, where the gestational carrier has no genetic link to the baby. Tammy says that Lauren chose to carry the twins out of the goodness of her heart. And Jordan added that their surrogate has “been more than supportive, fighting the good fight alongside us.”
Michigan Law Has Not Kept Up With Advances In Reproductive Technology
Tammy argued that huge advances have been made in reproductive technology in the last 40 years, which has made it possible for people like her and Jordan to safely grow their biological family. However, the Michigan laws involving surrogacy “have not kept up with these technological advances.”
Tammy and Jordan have had their twins at home with them since they were born, and they are currently their legal guardians. The couple is hoping to have the adoption finalized by their first birthday.
“The whole point of family law is to keep families together. We are a family. They are our biological children. There’s no denying that. Yet they’re trying to tear us apart,” Jordan said.
After beating cancer, Tammy says she still felt like there was more she was meant to do with her life. When the fight for their children started, she told Jordan that it was meant to be, too.
“We were meant to make this better,” Tammy said. “Unfortunately, we’re the example, but I hope our story going public means we will be the last family who faces this hardship in Michigan.”