An organization is helping Michigan families that are fighting for the legal rights to their children.
“I had to momentarily breakdown," said Michigan Fertility Alliance Founder Stephanie Jones.
That's how she felt when she heard about a Michigan couple being forced to adopt their biological babies. This happened after they were born through a gestational carrier because of a decades-old anti-surrogacy law in the state.
Jones, who lives in Grand Blanc, is fighting to change that old law.
"Discrimination, defeat and helplessness. That’s what I really try to explain to people, to be told that you can’t, or that you can’t be granted rights to your children, because of some silly law that was written in the 80s,” Jones said.
She is passionate about the topic because her family went through something similar.
Due to a rare complication, Jones was unable to carry another baby but still had viable eggs. Her family chose to hire a gestational carrier out of state because of the
Michigan Surrogate Parenting Act of 1988, which states surrogacy contracts are "void and unenforceable.”
It also makes compensating someone to carry your baby a felony. So, Jones is fighting for parents like tammy and Jordan Meyers.
The couple used a gestational carrier in Michigan, who did it without payment as a gift.
Still, their judges in Kent County will not grant them parental rights.
"There are several counties in our state that are granting his pre-birth order and legal rights to children born through a just gestational carrier," Tammy said.
The Meyers, who used to live in mid-Michigan, are being forced to adopt their twin babies who are still in the NICU.
Their lawyers say other judges have found a work around when interpreting the law and have issued pre-birth orders so that families can put the biological parents’ names on the birth certificate. That also would allow them to get the twins on their health insurance.
"At minimum 72 other cases or families were granted pre-birth orders and the legal rights to their babies before they were born,” Jones said.
She says when she started to research gestational carriers, she was shocked by the law Michigan has against it, noting that almost every other state in the country has legalized surrogacy.
"They happen to live in a state that has the most outdated draconian surrogacy laws in our country. And then absolutely has to change,” she said.
Jones' daughter was born 8 months ago. She now wants to make it easier for other parents to expand their families without having to go thru all this, like being forced to adopt their own children.
"What we’re really trying to do is catalog stories in the state that we can share once we have a bill sponsor," Jones said.