GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A Grand Rapids family is claiming a small victory in the fight to gain legal rights to their biological children born via gestational carrier.
Tammy and Jordan Myers were just awarded full guardianship of their twins a week ago, Friday.
While they’ll still have to adopt their babies, they said they felt heard by the legal system for the very first time.
“We are now the legal guardians of them, which is good,” joked Jordan Myers during a Zoom interview with FOX 17.
It’s not something most parents have to think about, but legally being allowed to make decisions regarding their own children is something the Myerses have been dreaming about.
“It was a really great experience this time around,” Tammy Myers said.
When she says that, it’s because for the first time since they started the long journey to gain rights to their twins Eames and Ellison, the Myerses actually got to meet with a judge face to face.
Tammy Myers said, “He not only recognized that it was in the best interest of the babies to be in our care, because we are providing them with care that they need to get past the hurdles that come with being a preemie, but also because they are our biological babies and it’s the right thing to do.”
Judges are all part of the picture because the twins were born using a gestational carrier due to a breast cancer diagnosis.
“Looking at where I was in 2015, you know, we didn’t know if I would be here, let alone the dream of growing our family would come true,” Tammy Myers said.
Though the babies are biologically the Myerses', Michigan law doesn’t see it that way. That means up until now, the woman who carried them, Lauren Vermilye and her husband, Jonathan, were legally considered Eames and Ellison’s parents and guardians.
The Myerses' attorney, Melissa Neckers, explained, “It allows them to get the babies on their insurance; it allows them to enroll them in school; it gives them legal rights to do what parents generally have the right to do.”
Neckers added while they will still need to adopt their babies, the Myerses' legal guardianship status will make the process easier.
“It makes it a little bit faster; it makes it a little bit cheaper; it makes it a little bit less time-consuming with all the paperwork and providing financial records, and that kind of thing, but it still requires them to adopt their own children,” she said.
The family calls it a small win, while keeping the big picture in mind: getting a bill passed in the state legislature tailored to families like theirs.
Neckers said, “Making a clear way for the intended parents to establish their parental rights when they have used a gestational carrier is essential; that is basic. That needs to be in the bill.”
Tammy Myers said that being so vocal about their struggles has gotten the right kind of attention.
“It open people’s eyes to see that we are a real family, these are our babies and this is an injustice,” she said.
The path is starting to get a little easier, but they still have a ways to go before being fully considered the twins’ parents.
Jordan Myers said, “To see a finish line in sight and to have them here and everything else is just mind blowing at times.”
The ordeal is one the Myerses say they shouldn’t be going through, while hoping their story will be the last of its kind in Michigan.
Nothing could make that okay, but I think knowing that because of our story, a change was made and we are the last family that has to face this; for us it makes it seem like it was worth it, you know? Some good came out of the whole situation,” Tammy Myers said.
The Myerses will now be going through a guardianship adoption, which means they don’t have to go through an agency for placement.
Their goal is to have that process complete by the end of the year.