Life

By Jasmine Kazlauskas

 

A mum has opened up about her joy of giving the gift of life to a newlywed couple who have become their state’s FIRST EVER same-sex parents through surrogacy.

Ever since she was a teenager, mum-of-three Amber Steers said she had always been interested in the idea of surrogacy and knew that one day she would love to give the gift of life.

The 27-year-old from Adelaide, South Australia, explained that after she finished having her children Addison, seven, Riley, five, and Aubrey, three, it was the perfect time to seriously consider surrogacy.

After talking with her winery worker husband Justin, 27, about her idea, the couple – who have known each other since they were 16 – agreed to start looking for the ideal ‘intended parents’.

Amber looked through hundreds of different pleas from needy couples who posted their stories onto a surrogacy Facebook group when she came across same-sex couple Jake and Aaron Leach.

Not long after the stay-at-home mum sent Jake a message introducing herself, the trio met up for the first time in September 2018 – and for the next few weeks, Amber would go on regular ‘dates’ with Jake and Aaron so they could get to know each other and build a friendship.

One month later, Amber officially offered to become their surrogate, using her own egg – but it took another six months of legal hurtles before the process could finally begin.

In April 2019, the mum artificially inseminated herself at home with a sample from Jake and a few weeks later, the couple were overjoyed after Amber confirmed she was pregnant.

And in December 2019, little Xavier Leach entered the world weighing 7lbs – and now at just two months old, Jake and Aaron are happier than ever to finally have the family they always dreamed of.

Amber said: “I’ve always loved anything to do with pregnancy and babies, and surrogacy was always something I was really interested in.

“I knew it was something I wanted to do, but it wasn’t until after I was finished having my kids that I decided it would be the perfect time.

“I joined a Facebook group for intended parents who were looking for surrogate, and I came across Jake and Aaron’s story. It really touched me, and I just knew I had to reach out.

“It really is like dating. I slid into his DM’s, introduced myself and it just went from there.

“We all met up for lunch, and just got to know each other over the next few weeks. Our friendship was instant, and I knew I wanted to help them.

“About a month later I officially offered to be their surrogate and after six months of trying to sort out all the legalities, we finally started the process of artificial insemination.

“My husband went to pick up the sample from Jake, which he laughs about now, and I did it myself at home.

“Two weeks later, I took a pregnancy test and it was faint, but I could see two lines. I told Jake and Aaron and they were so excited.

“We went to the doctor, who confirmed I was pregnant. I couldn’t believe how lucky we were to have it work on the first go.”

Amber said throughout the entire pregnancy, Jake and Aaron never left her side and came with her to every single doctor’s appointment.

 

And after months of anticipation, Amber finally gave birth to adorable little Xavier in December 2019.

Amber said that while her family were fully supportive of her decision to become a surrogate, she did receive some negative comments from others who cast doubt on the situation.

Despite this, she said it was one of the most rewarding experiences of her life and Aaron and Jake have said they cannot wait for Amber to be part of their lives forever.

 

And although she has now had her tubes tied, Amber said she would love to donate her eggs to Aaron and Jake in the future so they could have a sibling for Xavier.

Amber said: “Strangers and friends-of-friends would sometimes say negative things. They told me how they couldn’t possibly do it and therefore couldn’t fathom how I could.

“They kept saying how hard it would be for me. People assumed that I was getting paid and that I’d be handing the baby to people that I barely know, both of which are not true.

“The boys are my best friends. I’m going to be part of their life and Xavier life forever, and I’ll watch him grow up.

“People always say I’m ‘giving up’ the baby, but I’m not giving him up at all.

“I’m giving him back. He was never my baby, and I always had the mentality that this was their baby.

“When Xavier was born, it felt so different to all my other kids. I love him, but I don’t feel a motherly bond to him.

“I was so happy to give Aaron and Jake their child, and I’d be honoured in the future to donate to my eggs to help them have another baby.”

Adelaide couple Aaron, 28, and Jake, 24, have been together for eight years and said they have always dreamed of starting a family together but were never sure if it could be possible.

Surrogacy for same-sex couples has only been legal in South Australia since 2017, with Aaron and Jake being the very first to have successfully become parents with help of a surrogate in the state.

But as it was seen as ‘unchartered territory’, the couple explained that they almost gave up hope after lawyers and fertility clinics told them it was not possible.

The dads recalled that they were even met with laughter by some after asking them for help.

But after finding the right lawyer, the trio took matters into their own hands by pursuing traditional at-home surrogacy.

Now the delighted parents are raising awareness of their surrogacy journey to give hope to other same-sex couples who are longing for a family.

Operations manager Aaron said: “We are so grateful to Amber and it is like a dream come true now that Xavier is here.

“It feels like a fairy tale. We’d love to have a family of four in the future.

“Amber is willing to donate her eggs, so if we could find a surrogate, we could have another baby with my sample so that we’d all be connected.

“Our hope now is just to help others who might be going through what we were, to help them realise their dreams of having a family is possible.

Disability support worker Jake added: “I contacted nearly every lawyer in South Australia, and no one was willing to help us.

“I got laughed at by some who just said ‘good luck with that’ or ‘what a joke’.

“It was so hard to keep getting knocked back. But we were determined.

“I am so happy we never gave up. Surrogacy is a real thing and it makes dreams comes true.

“I hope we can inspire others to never give up on their dreams to become parents.

“Meeting Amber was like fate, and we have so much love for her. She gave us the gift of life and we could not be more grateful.

“Aaron and I are the happiest people in the world and can’t wait for what the future holds.”