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Mom of two got pregnant using donor sperm. Now she’s a surrogate for gay couple

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(NEW YORK) — After Lauren Brown and her wife Amanda Brown married in 2018, they knew quickly afterward they wanted to start their own family.

The Browns saved up money and began fertility treatment, opting to undergo reciprocal IVF treatment. Embryos were created with Amanda Brown’s eggs and donor sperm, and then Lauren Brown carried three pregnancies, and after an immense journey, the Browns were able to welcome their sons Judah in 2020 and Malachi in 2022.

Inspired in part by her experience and with the blessing of her family, Lauren Brown, 36, decided to look into becoming a surrogate, especially for another LGBTQ+ family like her own and particularly for a gay couple.

Giving the gift of life

“I had been interested in participating in the gift of life in some shape or capacity for a long time,” the mom of two told Good Morning America of her motivation.

Brown partnered with Brownstone Surrogacy, also an LGBTQ-owned agency, and is now in the second trimester of her fourth pregnancy, for which she will be compensated, and said she is feeling “great” overall.

“[It] has been really fun and really life-giving to be able to give back to other members of our community in a similar way that we have been given so much,” Brown, who shares on social media about LGBTQ+ family building, said.

For intended parents Matthew McConnell and Stephen Elkind of San Francisco, the journey to parenthood has been a “rollercoaster” but matching with Brown as their surrogate, nearly 3,000 miles away in the Washington, D.C. area, was an unexpectedly quick and near immediate process through Brownstone Surrogacy.

“I’ll remember that day forever,” McConnell told “GMA” of their first virtual meeting through a Zoom call. “We were nervous but so excited and conversation just flowed so naturally.”

“And then I think within five or 10 minutes, both us and Lauren as well sent emails being like, ‘It’s a yes,"” McConnell continued.

The state of surrogacy in the U.S.

Surrogacy has been on the rise and according to one study, nearly 31,000 babies were born via surrogacy between 1999 and 2013, with at least a 2.5% increase during the decade.

Surrogacy is also not regulated on the federal level and paid surrogacy is currently legal in 48 states, except for Nebraska and Louisiana. In March 2024, Michigan also decriminalized paid surrogacy contracts.

Hope for the Future

Elkind and McConnell, as well as Brown, said they wanted to open up publicly about their shared journey to offer an example for others, especially in the LGBTQ+ community, who are looking to build their families.

“We, in the queer community deserve to have the families of our dreams,” Elkind said. “We don’t see a lot of these stories personally out there and so we want to let people know it’s possible.”

“There is a lot of work to do to get there and it can be very expensive but if it’s a goal of yours, if it’s something that you want, it’s not impossible,” he continued.

“For LGBTQ+families, for many of us, maybe having dealt with unsupportive family members, where family might be a place of pain or sadness or of loss or rejection, to be able to create the families that we dream of can be so particularly redemptive and can be such a joy,” Brown added.

McConnell and Elkind, who described Brown’s offer to be their surrogate as “everything,” are expecting their child later this year on Thanksgiving Day and they’ve already affectionately nicknamed them their “little turkey.”

“It means everything for us that Lauren has agreed to be our surrogate and is in this process with us,” Elkind said. “As a queer community, we have what it takes to make a family. We just have to work together.”

“This has been such a wonderful experience. It seemingly couldn’t go better,” McConnell said.

For anyone else considering surrogacy, Brown encouraged them to do it.

“If you have had an uncomplicated pregnancy in the past, you really should consider it because it’s not something that you will ever regret,” she said. “Helping somebody create the family of their dreams is just priceless.”

Pregnancy is a potentially life-threatening condition and being over the age of 35 poses increased risks for complications, even in individuals with prior uncomplicated pregnancies.

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