Saturday, September 8, 2012

You Asked, We Answered!

With all the recent traffic from CNN, we have been getting a lot of new questions coming in.  Although we do have a question and answer page, we thought we would put an updated one right up front.  Feel free to post more questions in the comment section and we will answer them, or email them our way if you prefer to stay confidential! 

Also, don't forget, we are filming a documentary on this process.  We are showing the surrogate side and the intended parent side along with the medical side.  We hope our story will help educate others on the world of surrogacy. We need funding to complete the movie, so please take a moment to donate. Any amount helps!   

click on the above icon to watch our trailer and donate

Most Commonly Ask Questions:

How is everyone related?  
James and Natalie Lucich are husband and wife and have one child, Hunter, together. 
Sean and Tiffany Burke are husband and wife and have two children, Holland and Blake, together.
James and Tiffany are brother and sister.

Pictured from left to right:  Sean Burke and his wife Tiffany Burke.  Natalie Lucich and her husband James Lucich (Tiffany's brother).

Who's egg and sperm is involved here?
The embryos were made of  Natalie's eggs and James' sperm.  Natalie lost her uterus but has many viable eggs still left in her ovaries.  The baby will be a full sibling to their first son, Hunter.  They did an egg retrieval of Natalie to obtain the eggs necessary and James made his deposit, and the embryos were fertilized in the lab and then put in Tiffany.

James and Natalie's embryos, 5 days old and ready for transfer into Tiffany.

They are brother and sister, this sounds like incest?
We are trying to understand why we get this question, because the above has always been explained. But this is in no way shape or form incest.   Tiffany's eggs are dormant during inception, and not used in this process.   The embryos are already embryos - the start of life - before even being put in Tiffany.  They are 100% James and Natalie's.  Tiffany is truly just the carrier, the oven if you will.  

As an interesting side note, our situation is even more different since James and Tiffany were both adopted at birth, from different birth parents.  They are not even blood related although it would not matter if they were.  Tiffany would have done this for her biological brother as well.  This is no different than a sister carrying for a sister.  

Why choose surrogacy over adoption?
This was a personal choice made by James and Natalie.  Our family is very pro adoption since James, Tiffany and another one of their siblings, Jonathan, are all adopted.   The process for adoption is similar to surrogacy, long and hard and expensive.  Natalie and James wanted to try to have their own biological child (not knowing it would be twins) to complete their family.  Some people desire this over adoption and that is okay.  Adoption is not easy, it can take a long time, the child can have major issues from abuse while the mother was pregnant.  Adoption is not for everyone and I commend James and Natalie for saying they were not ready to adopt at this point in their life.  For knowing their boundaries.  All the people that mention adoption over and over, I highly doubt any of them have gone through the process themselves.  Family building is such a personal choice and everyone chooses differently.  They had the opportunity with Natalie's eggs left and Tiffany willing to carry.  We felt it all really lined up perfectly and are happy with this choice. Adoption may still be an option in the future for them.

Why have more children when you already have one?
This question boggles my mind (Tiffany).  When my husband and I told everyone we wanted to have another baby, no one said "You already have a child, you should be grateful for that." We conceived naturally and no one batted an eye, our second son was welcome with open arms and no judgement.  So why is this any different?  Natalie and James had dreamed of having more children and creating a big family.  Just because she lost her ability to carry children does not mean she should not be able to grow her family anymore than you or me.  James and Natalie are so grateful and so in love with their son, Hunter.  He is their world.  I think in my heart, most of those comments come from people who don't have children, or never yearned for a child of their own.  I think it is perfectly natural to want more children.  I look at my two boys and feel complete and whole, getting to be their mother and watching them grow and learn each day has been the most beautiful, rewarding opportunity I have ever had.  I can't imagine life without either one of them.  Natalie and James have that same desire and who are any of us to judge that or say harsh comments towards such a natural feeling?   I am so excited for Hunter to have siblings!

When was Inception?
The original date was January 2012.  Our first transfer we transferred two embryos with the hopes one would take, we were so saddened when neither took.   The next transfer was March 30th 2012, where we transferred two embryos again in hopes one would take.  We are happy to be pregnant with twins right now!

Did you plan on twins?

No but we knew it was a possibility.  The embryos at Seattle Reproductive Medicine are graded by quality being Good, Fair or Poor. And grade A, B or C.   The embryos from both transfers were given the same grade, Fair quality with Grade B.  The recommendation of the embryologist was to implant two and hope that one of them took.  As said above, we implanted two on the first try and neither took.  The second try we implanted two and both took (or one split, but we are thinking both took).   It was a surprise blessing!

Didn't you know you would get morning sickness? Also, have you tried.... (insert remedy here)?
We suspected I would get morning sickness since I did with my other two pregnancies.  We had no idea it would be this severe.  It was a good eye opener for me because I learned so many different ways different women are during their pregnancies.  I learned some of my friends never had a day of morning sickness, while other were hospitalized for theirs and sent home with IV units hooked to them.  I fell somewhere in the middle.

As to the remedies, I have tried it all.  I hope I can remember everything but here it is:  Seabands, crackers, protein, bean diet, beats, B6, B6 with Unsiom, taking prenatals at night, not taking prenatals, always keeping a full stomach, ginger tea, ginger-ale, stomach ease tea, ginger gum, regular gum, preggie pops, Zofran, Promethazine... the list goes on!  I am sure I am forgetting something but I tried it ALL.  I was so desperate to stop feeling sick all day.  Ultimately the Promethazine worked the best which I started around week 14 I think.   I still throw up on it and get nauseous but it is less than before.

Why did you choose to film this and share your story?
It was my idea (Tiffany) to share it because I knew nothing about surrogacy going into this.  I thought it could be a great way to share an actual story, and get the medical side to it filmed accurately so we could educate anyone else wanting to dive into this world of surrogacy.   I also found as we blogged, so many women came forward to share their stories of infertility issues and it felt good for all of us to no longer feel alone.  It seems like with fertility issues, women have been suffering silently.  My husband is in film and I asked him if he wanted to do this project, I am glad he accepted.

Sharing such a personal matter has not been easy.  There are times we have thought it's not worth it.  But we really want to help others no longer feel alone in their journey, and bring awareness to fertility issues.  ALL issues.  Including women who can't get pregnant, men who's sperm count is too low, gay couples and surrogacy, straight couples and surrogacy etc.   So many ways to build families these days and this seemed like a good chance to get the word out of one of those ways.   We hope for more understanding and tolerance on the subject.

Sean hugging his wife Tiffany after a doctor's visit at Seattle Reproductive Medicine.

How you are handling criticism, including from trolls and those lacking an understanding of biology?
It's funny because we feel our story is about love, and family and an interesting medical story (surrogacy) which has nothing to do with incest.   And we continue to get great positive feedback.   However, when you are exposed, you put yourself out there and open to the comments of the public and that opens up complete strangers who don't know us and start commenting. The trolls don't bother me as much because some of them are funny.  I do have a harder time with people commenting that don't understand the process and don't read the article and then say hateful things to us.  However - this IS a different story, and people will have their opinions that differ from ours and that's okay.  

We put ourselves out there in hopes our story will help others along the way.  Our hope is those intentions stay true and that we reach the people who need to hear our story the most.  When you put yourself out there, people will comment and say their opinions which they are entitled to have.  It's good to know and self reflect if needed and then just keep swimming.

If everyone listened to naysayers - progress would be impossible.

Is Tiffany getting paid to be the surrogate? Does CNN pay for this story?  Who pays medical bills? What about funding for movie?
It is illegal in Washington State to pay your surrogate. That being said, none of us knew that it was.  When we first started on this journey, James and Natalie offered to pay Tiffany some form of compensation for doing this and she declined. "I did not want this to be a monetary transaction or something where they ever owed me a thing for doing this.  I just wanted it to be out of love, and then move along afterward.  I don't expect my brother to do anything in return and I think that's how it should be when you do something for someone you love.  You do it because you love them and you want to.  I love my brother, my sister in law and my nephew.  Giving this gift to them requires nothing from them in return."  

CNN does not pay for stories.  They want to share our story to help educate people on surrogacy and we are hoping for the same in return on surrogacy and infertility issues.

James and Natalie pay for all pregnancy related items including medical bills, childcare, maternity clothes, prenatal etc.

We do need funding for the movie.  We did not realize how much until recently. We received bids from all over to come up with our budget.  It is expensive for proper equipment (camera, sound recorder, mics, lights etc, batteries, back ups, etc), paying a crew, sound engineer, music rights, storing and backing up footage and more.  So we went to Kickstarter where hundreds or creative projects go to get their funding. We hope we reach our goal so we can get equipment and continue filming (we have been running on borrowed and rented equipment and we are missing great shots because of not having it readily available).

What will you tell the twins?
They will be told the truth!  That their mom could not grow them so their aunt did.  Families are made in so many ways now, everyone is so different and unique and there is no shame in how these babies were grown. 

Who will be in the delivery room? Will you let your brother watch you give birth?
Natalie, James, Sean, Tiffany the doctors and nurses, and our Birth Photographer. For the initial delivery, it will already be such a complex situation, we wanted to keep it simple, but will have grandparents waiting on the side lines to run in and meet their new grand-babies.    However, I am REALLY a big pushover when it comes to grandmas, so if one of the grandma's wants to come in, I am pretty sure I will welcome them with open legs. I mean arms, depending on if the doctor says it's okay.   

I have no issues with my brother being there when his children are born. I think birth is such a natural amazing process.  My brother and I are close, but not THAT close, so I imagine he will stay clear of any shots that he may not be able to erase from his mind!  I honestly do not care though, I just hope he is there to his his babies the first time they cry or breathe :) 

Are you doing a planned C-section since it's twins?
No plans for a C-section at this point.  I (Tiffany) really want to try to have the twins naturally.   Both my boys were born without drugs and very quickly, so I am optimistic.  Let's hope both babies are head down and ready to go!   

What will happen when the babies are born?
We thought it best for the babies to go straight to Natalie and James for instant bonding.  We are hoping to have Natalie cut a cord because not very many moms get the opportunity to cut their own baby's cord!  

What happens after the release in the hospital?
We will go our separate ways.  James and Natalie currently live in University Place, and Sean and Tiffany are 2 hours North in Bellingham.  Sean will take Tiffany home to rest and heal and James and Natalie will take their newest additions home and be a family of five now! 

What will Tiffany do with her Breast Milk?
I am hoping to pump and give to the babies.  Freeze each week and send it down.   I will not be nursing the babies.  We are hoping Natalie will be able to :)

How will Natalie feed the babies?
Natalie will try a shot to induce breast milk, this would be so amazing so she can bond right away in the special way with her babies. 

As you progress in your pregnancy is the thought of giving the boys up getting harder to bear, or are you not attached to them that way? How hard do you think is it gonna be to give birth and have them taken away a second later?
I get this question a lot.   Honestly, I don't feel as connected to these babies as I have to my own children.  I don't know how I feel about that, part of me feels guilty like I might not be loving them enough  - even though they are my nephews and I DO love them a lot! But the other part of me feels relieved, as though this is how I am supposed to feel.

After the birth, I have no idea what to expect or what to feel.  I know they are not my babies, but my body might not understand and may yearn to be close to a baby after the 9 months spent together.  This is just coming from someone who has already given birth twice.  I have never given birth to someone else's child, so there is no way to predict how I might feel.  I anticipate feeling some sense of saddness or loss, but over all I look forward to being able to go home and not wake up to a newborn, and heal, and know that my brother and his wife have their babies!  I can't wait to re-focus on my own family and life.  

Do you think it will be hard if you see the child being raised in away you don't aree with later in life?
I don't think it would be any different than seeing them raise my other nieces or nephews in a way I don't agree with.  These boys are not my children in any way.  I feel fully confident in James and Natalie's parenting abilities otherwise I would not have helped them bring more children into this world.

Your story has received so much positive feedback until the CNN front page broke, would you share your private story again knowing all the negative comments you would receive? 
I can't speak for Natalie (This is Tiffany) but I can 100% say yes.  Our goal is to help educate people on this world of surrogacy, infertility and to stop the silent suffering from all the women and men out there who have ached to be parents and hit constant emotional speedbumps along the way to their family planning.   For every 100 mean comments on an article, we are receiving incredible emails from women who are feeling strength from our story, no longer feeling alone and feeling inspired.  We don't want surrogacy to be considered bad or weird.  Just like adoption should not be.  People plan and make their families in all different ways now.  When there are loving families and parents for children to grow up in, I just don't see what all the negative fuss is about.    I hope our story continues to reach the people it needs to. Including the negative, judgmental ones.  You never know who's mind you may open by speaking up about something so controversial.   As a reminder - I used to think that if you can't have children naturally, you should adopt. I had never been on the other side, I had never heard the hearts of these mothers.   Walk a mile in someone's shoes, then make up your mind.  I never thought I would believe in IVF or surrogacy let alone be a surrogate.  The world is a very interesting place when you choose to open your mind and see it from another person's perspective. 

Do you have more questions for us?  Feel free to comment below and ask us, or message us privately.  You can follow our story also on facebook:


  1. Tiffany I remember reading that you were are you and James adopted siblings or true blood siblings?

    1. Thanks for adding that info in. I just thought that might help those that were considering it being incest to know that.

    2. Anonymous on 9/8 @ 1:47 PM:

      The following is verbatim (hence the quotes) from the Q/A post.

      "As an interesting side note, our situation is even more different since James and Tiffany were both adopted at birth, from different birth parents. They are not even blood related although it would not matter if they were. Tiffany would have done this for her biological brother as well."

      Thank you for sharing your story w/all of the world. I know it has to be hard, but just continue to ignore the INGORANCE of others (comments online and in person). There's a difference between uninformed, and ignorance and I don't think ignorance is a becoming quality. I understand people that don't understand, or have a difference of opinion but that's not an invitation to be rude. What your doing is amazing. I can't wait to see the story come full circle and of course the babies, once their born.

      Best wishes!

  2. I'm so surprised that in this day and age with the prevalence of IVF that there are still people out there that don't understand. I love your story! I love anything to do with babies and how they come into this world, whatever way that is. I admire you Tiffany for doing this for your brother and sister in law. Having had six babies myself I know how hard pregnancy is and also how much joy it brings. God's blessings on you all!

  3. Such great information, thank you for sharing! There were lots of little things answered that I hadn't even thought of. I can't imagine how tough it must be to put yourself out there like that, but your story is such a beautiful one and it really will change lives.

  4. You'll never regret helping your family, whether it's being a surrogate mom or caring for an elderly parent. It's the opportunities to help that you pass up that you regret.

  5. I'm just wondering if James and Natalie have come up with names for the two new boys. :))

  6. It really makes me sick that people judge and just randomly jump to conclusions about the situation. I think the story is beautiful and it brings a tear to my eye when I try to put myself in Natalie's shoes, imagining someone as willing as Tiffany to help me out. Tiffany really is the embodiment of selflessness and a loving spirit.

  7. I think you are doing a beautiful and amazing thing for your family!

  8. Good for you!!!! I think it is the best gift you can give. 18 years ago I was a surrogate for my sister in law and gave birth to healthy triplets. I am blessed that I was able to help them have the family they always wanted!

  9. Excellent, thoughtful, and positive response to ignorance. Thank you for sharing.

  10. Aren't you more like a gestational carrier than a surrogate? A surrogate usually uses its own own egg doesn't it? I would do the same thing for my brother or sister. Good for you!

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