A 61-year-old Nebraska woman recently gave birth to her gay son’s child, Buzzfeed News reports.
When Omaha couple Matthew Eledge, 32, and Elliot Dougherty, 29, wanted to have a baby, they asked Matthew’s mother, Cecile, to be their surrogate.
“If you want me to be the gestational carrier, I’d do it in a heartbeat,” said Cecile, who was determined by doctors to be healthy enough to carry a child to term. They used Matthew’s sperm and an egg donated by Elliot’s sister.
“People were genuinely curious,” Matthew said of the unconventional pregnancy. “They even had questions about incest. But this is so new and so unique. People didn’t understand at first, but once they do, they’re ridiculously supportive—they think it’s radical and amazing. They’re really inspired by my mom.”
Cecile gave birth to Uma Louise Dougherty-Eledge on March 25 with no complications. “We’re very, very lucky,” Matthew says.
Unfortunately, health insurance did not cover any of the $40,000 in pregnancy expenses, including the IVF procedure, because Cecile was a surrogate.
“I do think it’s sad that IVF as a process is exclusive to those who can afford it,” Matthew says. “And for queer couples, it’s a particular challenge.”
Megan Hunt, Nebraska’s first openly LGBTQ elected legislator, recently introduced LB-501, which would require insurance providers to cover reproductive health procedures like IVF.
This couple needed a surrogate to carry their baby.
They never expected she would turn out to be one of their mothers.https://t.co/RloOSwoP7z
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) March 30, 2019
While Matthew and Elliot considered adopting, they were concerned about encountering potential bigotry from adoption agencies in Nebraska, which, in 2017, became the last state to strike down a ban on gay and lesbian foster parents.
“For us, it was about control,” Matthew explains.
Nebraska also still legally requires a sperm donor to be registered as the baby’s “father” and the person delivering the baby as the “mother,” even if she’s not biologically related to the child.
“My mom and I are legally Uma’s parents,” Matthew says. “This looks really creepy for us. Let’s just say we will NOT be framing and hanging up Uma’s birth certificate.”
“I thought Elliot could at least put his name on the birth certificate, at least symbolically, but they didn’t even offer that,” Matthew continues. “He now needs to go through an adoption process to get any legal rights. We plan on doing that, but let’s pretend in the meantime, since this can be a tedious process, god forbid, I were to die: Elliot would have absolutely no legal custody for our daughter… We have gay marriage, but we have an entire structure that hasn’t caught up.”
Matthew, a public school teacher, previously made national headlines in 2015 when he was fired from his job at a private Omaha Catholic school after marrying Dougherty.
“Politically, things haven’t always been in our favor here,” Matthew says of life in Omaha. “Elliot and I thought this wasn’t necessarily a place to raise a family as a gay couple, but we value family so much—here, we have a close-knit community. And that makes it a really good place to live.”
Two additional viable embryos are “on ice” should the couple choose to expand their family.