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Overheard: Surrogacy is not the same as incest
The ultrasound at 8 weeks shows the Luciches' twins, which Tiffany Burke is carrying.
September 11th, 2012
11:14 AM ET

Overheard: Surrogacy is not the same as incest

We received an enormous response to the story “Carrying these babies for my brother.” The article detailed how Tiffany Burke decided to become a surrogate mother for her brother James Lucich and his wife Natalie.

Tiffany is pregnant with twin boys, who are the children of her brother and his wife. The Luciches have one child already, Hunter. Burke and her husband have two of their own children, as well. The families plan to film a documentary about their journey.

Some readers were confused by the situation, calling it “incest.” That is not an accurate assessment. Firstly, James did not directly impregnate his sister. Secondly, although the twins are growing inside Burke, Natalie Lucich is the biological mother. The fetuses developed from embryos implanted in Burke, made from the combination of Natalie’s egg and James’s sperm.

Furthermore, Tiffany and James were both adopted at birth, and are not related by blood to each other. Tiffany wrote on her website that she would have served as a surrogate for a biological brother too.

“This is no different than a sister carrying for a sister," she wrote.

Some readers expressed admiration for Tiffany:

AugustGreen

The sister deserves admiration for being willing to sacrifice her body to help her brother and his wife welcome much-loved children into their family. She will be one very special aunt to these boys for giving them life.

Others wondered why the family didn’t opt to adopt:

fatalie

When we are facing problems with over population, food shortages, and clean water shortages WHY do people want to have THREE or more biological children.  It would be such a kind gift to humanity and the earth to have less biological children and adopt more non-biological children.

To this, Tiffany and Natalie’s website responds that it 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.

Reader iowaborne has gone through a similar situation: Her triplets were born to a gestational surrogate, too. iowaborne is a cancer survivor who lost her uterus as a result of her disease. She writes:

Yes, we considered adoption but knowing I could produce eggs meant we could have a biological child and hope returned to help ease my own suffering. In my mind it felt selfish to adopt a baby who could become part of the thousands of families who are faced with no reproductive abilities.

Finally, some readers wondered why the family would choose to share the story and create a film about it. Tiffany responds:

It was my idea 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.

See more of the family's answers to CNN questions here.


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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.