Here’s all the proof you need that miracles do happen — medical miracles, at least. A 54-year-old Texas woman has successfully given birth to her own granddaughter, serving as a surrogate for her daughter and husband, who could not conceive.
After three years of trying to conceive naturally, Kelley McKissack, 28, and her husband were ready to try infertility treatments. While McKissack was able to conceive three times through these treatments, all her pregnancies ended in miscarriage, with the last falling on Christmas 2014. Unable to find any medical explanation for why she couldn’t carry a pregnancy to term, McKissack turned to her mother, Tracey Thompson, for support. Thompson offered to serve as a surrogate for her daughter and was successfully impregnated with one of the couple’s remaining four fertilized embryos from their last round of in vitro. Thompson, who had to undergo hormone therapy to conceive in her postmenopausal state, gave birth to her granddaughter, Kelcey, on Jan. 6.
Even sweeter, Kelcey’s name is a combination of Mom’s and Grandma’s names, “Tracey” and “Kelley.”
Surrogacy often makes the news, but never for such a beautiful reason as this. In most cases of surrogacy, we see an unfortunate legal battle because of the murky and often contradictory surrogacy laws overseas and state to state. In this story, we see one of those rare cases of surrogacy success, where a relative was not only willing but able to successfully conceive a child for another member of the family.
When you think about the fact that upward of 6 percent of married women are unable to get pregnant after one year of trying, it makes sense that family members are so willing to participate. We’ve seen several standout cases like Thompson’s before, where grandmothers have served as surrogates for daughters struggling with infertility and have even birthed twins. Sisters as surrogates are another increasingly common occurrence.
While these stories present a touching and often tear-jerking picture, it’s not so easy to get from point A to point B, even if it’s a family member offering to carry a baby for you. Securing a traditional surrogate is a long and arduous process that often requires the intervention of a surrogacy agency. Using a family member as a surrogate still requires lengthy communication and legal guidance, and on top of that, there’s still no guarantee a surrogate will conceive.
Writing for The Organization of Parents Through Surrogacy, Shelley M. Tarnoff, JD, LMFCC, agrees that a family member who offers up their “oven” may seem like a dream come true — not to mention a money-saver. Still, Tarnoff cautions, a successful surrogacy agreement with a family member should include some kind of reimbursement or compensation and will require a written agreement that details guardianship rights. Family counseling is also recommended. New Beginnings Surrogacy Services of New Jersey says a surrogacy agency can also facilitate this process with a family member to make sure a surrogacy contract is up to standard.
As with any surrogacy agreement, laws governing the use of a family member as a surrogate will vary greatly from state to state. The Ethics Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine agrees that using a family member as a sperm donor or surrogate can be ethical in many cases, with a few exceptions, where sister-for-brother or daughter-for-father gestational surrogacy may be frowned upon.
Successful surrogacy with a family member can be a beautiful thing, as long as all the legalities and medical concerns are taken care of leading up to the main event. As we saw in Thompson’s case, the family member who is willing to go this distance for a loved one — and cut through the red tape — is truly giving one of life’s most precious gifts.