Surrogate mother offers extraordinary act of friendship

After 11 years of trying, couple’s friend offers to be a surrogate mother

Tara and Robert Thomas had been trying to have a baby for years and had suffered several setbacks — then an extraordinary act of friendship made their dreams come true.

Mandy Dugan and her husband, James, already had four children ranging in age from 3 to 10 years old. When their friends told them of their troubles having a baby through in vitro fertilization and with the number of embryos dwindling, they knew they wanted to help.

“Tara shared with me that she and her husband had been trying to grow their family over the past 11 years,” Mandy said. “I could see and feel their despair every time we spoke, but I could also tell that this couple was meant to be parents. We wanted to help them fulfill their dream.”

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‘The baby is in the right place with the right people’

Mandy and her husband decided to offer support, but not financially or through words of encouragement. They offered Mandy as a surrogate. Mandy would be implanted with one of the Thomas’ last embryos to carry and deliver a baby for their friends.

“At first, many of my friends and family were concerned that it would be too hard on me emotionally to carry a baby and then give it away after nine months,” Mandy said. “But it was never a loss for me. The baby is in the right place with the right people.”

Mandy delivered baby boy Maverick with the support of a nurse midwife at Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital, surrounded by her husband and the baby’s biological parents.

“The clinical team was so supportive and respectful of our circumstances at the hospital,” said Mandy, who also is a registered nurse in the oncology unit at the hospital. “The care for me and the transition to the biological mother were important to everyone associated with our care. This was both of our families’ birthing experience.”

The two families are enjoying watching Maverick grow. They celebrate milestones not just for Maverick, but for both families.

“This has been a rewarding experience,” Mandy said. “I am thankful for the opportunity to help my friends and to also receive the blessing of being part of their beautiful family.”

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