One British family has drawn attention for their unusual choice of a surrogate mother.
Ellen Bown gave birth to three children in her immediate family, but only Maddy is her “official” child. Ellen also birthed Alex and Ruth after being fertilized with her stepfather Tony’s sperm, though the twins legally belong to Ellen’s mother Jenny.
Technically, Alex and Ruth are the children and half-siblings of Ellen. They are also technically the grandchildren of their legal parents, Jenny and Tony.
“We have always tried to stick to the adoptive relationships,” Jenny said. “So the twins call me and Tony ‘Mummy’ and ‘Daddy’, as you’d expect. It’s only different with Ellen.”
According to Jenny, the twins called Ellen “Tummy Mummy” when they were children. Now, they simply call her Ellen.
“We have been open with all of them from the beginning about where they came from,” Ellen said. “Maddy was 5 when the twins were born. She knew that I was growing something in my tummy for Granny and Grandad and that, when they were born, they were going to live with them.”
Alex noted that people at school often ask him about his family, but he always describes them as “normal” despite the situation.
The idea began following Jenny and Tony’s wedding in 1999, when they first discussed surrogacy. The couple wanted kids but were unable to conceive naturally because Jenny had undergone a hysterectomy five years earlier. Instead of suggesting they ask a stranger to be their surrogate, Ellen volunteered herself.
Though the family was at first denied by a clinic because of concerns over the psychological welfare of Maddy, they eventually received permission.
Ellen found out in December 2001 that she was pregnant with not one baby, but twins. After the twins were born, Jenny and Tony finalized the adoption that same week.