Parents of twins in Michigan will have to adopt their own children after they were denied legal rights to the babies, who were born via gestational carrier.
The Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids has allowed Jordan and Tammy Myers full access to their twins – Eames and Ellison – but the state of Michigan have not recognized them as the legal parents of the infants.
Two Kent County Family Court Judges dismissed an effort by the couple’s attorney to establish them as the legal parents for little Eames and Ellison.
‘It’s just hard. It’s really hard,’ Tammy Myers said, WOOD-TV reports. ‘(It’s) the most joy we’ve felt in years and being happy and hopeful to bring these beautiful miracles into the world, and then complete and utter sadness and disbelief and stress and anxiety as the same time,’ Tammy Myers said.
The Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids has allowed Jordan and Tammy Myers full access to their twins – Eames and Ellison – but the state of Michigan have not recognized them as the legal parents of the infants
The twins were born prematurely on January 11 and have been doing well at the neonatal intensive care unit
The twins were born prematurely on January 11 and have been doing well at the neonatal intensive care unit.
They aren’t covered by the Myers’ insurance Spectrum Health, as a result, and will have to legally adopt their own children. The insurance company hasn’t pressed the family on the financial burden yet as to allow them time to work out legal dealings.
The couple have the full support of Lauren VerMilye, the woman who carried the babies to term for the Myers. She is married and has two children, herself
The couple have the full support of Lauren VerMilye, the woman who carried the babies to term for the Myers. She is married and has two children, herself.
Tammy Myers overcame a five-year battle with breast cancer but was unable to carry children as a result.
The couple, who have an eight-year-old daughter, met VerMilye though a Facebook post they had made looking for a gestational carrier.
‘She signed on to do this out of the goodness of her heart,’ Tammy said. ‘One of her friends had shared our story and she responded within minutes that she had been waiting for an opportunity like this. They wanted so badly to bless a family like ours, and they were on board. Both her and her husband.’
But things went south when the Myers attempted to make themselves the legal parents of the twins in the fall of last year.
Tammy Myers (left) overcame a five-year battle with breast cancer but was unable to carry children. The couple, who have an eight-year-old daughter, met VerMilye though a Facebook post they had made looking for a gestational carrier
‘We knew it was going to be a little tricky,’ said Tammy Myers.’But we also believed with everything inside of us that there was no way a judge could hear our story and look into our faces and tell us that we do not have rights to our biological children.’
What is Michigan’s Surrogate Parenting Act
Michigan’s Surrogate Parenting Act of 1988 prohibits surrogacy parentage contracts and the ability of surrogates to receive compensation for carrying children.
Some judges have looked for loop holes when establishing legal parentage, with pre-birth orders being common. Kent County judges have declined to do so, however.
In 2019, one couple had to pay $15,000 to legally adopt their twins in Kent County.
The couple also was subjected to extensive visits from an adoption agency who routinely asked invasive questions of the pair and had them fill out loads of paperwork.
A state senator did attempt to get a bill in support of legalized surrogacy contracts pushed through in 2018, but that failed.
In their dismissal, both judges cited Michigan’s Surrogate Parenting Act. The law deems surrogacy parentage contracts ‘void and unenforceable as contrary to public policy.’
‘While this Court has genuine concerns about the present-day wisdom of the 1988 Surrogate Parenting Act, such concerns are better left to the legislative/political arena,’ Kent County Family Court Judge Daniel Zemaitis said.
Court documents continue: ‘This court will not ignore by judicial action the clear language of MCL 722.855.’
The couple’s attorney, Melissa Neckers, first asked for a pre-birth order in fall 2020 before attempting to establish Jordan Myers as the father of the twins through the Michigan Paternity Act.
That request was dismissed on January 15 by Kent County Family Court Judge Scott Noto.
‘What the parties essentially are asking this court to do is validate and enforce a (surrogacy) contract that the Michigan Legislature has expressly declared void and unenforceable as a matter of public policy,’ Noto wrote in an opinion. ‘The court has no authority to enforce such a contract.’
Jordan Myers called the entire ordeal ‘degrading’ and demoralizing.’
‘It’s very difficult to just have to jump through legal hoops and spend a bunch of money (on the adoption process) just because of a law that is archaic and outdated, especially when so many judges are granting these pre-birth orders across the state,’ he added.