By Gina Salamone, Daily News, March 13, 2008
Barbara Ferrarra (l.) carried her sister Jennifer DelBroccolo’s baby Olivia. Photo Credit: Sunshine for News
|“We’re pregnant”: two little words that will change the lives of you and your partner. Especially if your partner is your sister.
In the new series “The Return of Jezebel James,” premiering tomorrow night on Fox, Parker Posey’s character, Sarah, is crushed when a doctor tells her she’s unable to carry a baby to term because of intrauterine adhesions (uterine scar tissue). So she gives birth to an idea.
Since Sarah’s eggs are just fine, she asks her sister Coco (Lauren Ambrose) to be a surrogate. Coco’s reluctant at first, but then warms up to the plan.
But Brooklyn mom Rose, whose name has been changed to protect her privacy, didn’t need to convince her sister to carry her 3-year-old triplet girls.
“Her husband actually volunteered his wife,” Rose says. “I will never be able to carry children. The day after I found out, my brother-in-law just turned around and said, ‘Don’t worry. Your sister could do it. It’s all right. She’ll be fine.’
“She called me that night and told me she was willing to do it.” says Rose. “Everyone in my family is very, very supportive.”
The same was true for Jennifer DelBroccolo of New Jersey. After several abdominal surgeries and an operation to remove her gall bladder, DelBroccolo’s surgeon discovered she was left with adhesions in her abdomen.
“He said it would be very dangerous for me to get pregnant because it could lead to bowel obstruction,” she explains. Doctors were also concerned about a baby getting enough nutrition since DelBroccolo had most of her stomach removed.
That’s when her sister, Barbara Ferrara, offered up her uterus. “I didn’t even have to ask her,” DelBroccolo says.
Using DelBroccolo’s eggs and her husband Anthony’s sperm, Ferrara was implanted with the embryo. And little Olivia was born in January.
But the process wasn’t easy. “I had to go through a series of shots, take hormones, take pills, give myself injections in the belly,” Ferrara says.
She was implanted three times before the pregnancy took. Then she was put on bed rest for two weeks, while DelBroccolo took off from work to take care of her sister and her three kids.
When it was time to give birth, the sisters and both of their husbands were in the delivery room. “We used to joke, ‘This is going to be an interesting delivery and a crowded room,’ and indeed it was,” says DelBroccolo.
Rose’s sister kept her involved during gestation, letting her know when the babies moved, and letting her feel her stomach.
But Rose still felt left out at moments.
“I didn’t know when they were hungry,” she says. “I didn’t know when they moved. And if I focused on that, you could feel very sad. But I tried to always focus on the positive – that I was having my own biological children, that my sister was carrying them for me, and that everyone was fine.”
Using a surrogate in New York, even if it’s your sister, can also be costly. According to reproductive lawyer Melissa Brisman, it generally costs intended parents a few thousand dollars on the legal end when the carrier is a relative.
That’s because state law mandates that the woman who gives birth go down as the mother on birth certificates, even if the eggs aren’t hers. So if the genetic mom wants to be named the parent, she has to either adopt the baby or go to court to overrule that statute.
With Brisman’s help, Rose and her husband were the first couple in New York to be named the parents on a birth certificate even though someone else carried their children.
DelBroccolo opted to adopt her little girl from her sister. Though the process was laborious for both sisters, they consider it well worth it.
“We were very close to begin with,” DelBroccolo says. “If it’s possible, we probably got a little closer now.”