'I'm still pinching myself': Whitmer signs Michigan Family Protection Act

Grand Rapids couple celebrates signing of new law legalizing surrogacy in Michigan
Whitmer signs Michigan Family Protection Act
Posted at 1:25 PM, Apr 01, 2024

ROYAL OAK, Mich. — A journey that started with a cancer diagnosis ended Monday with the legalization of surrogacy in Michigan. The winding, twisting path to get here is one Jordan and Tammy Myers could not have foreseen.

"It's been a long, four years, you know, since we started this journey," said Tammy Myers. "And there were some days we didn't think it was possible. So to be here today, truly just fills my heart with with so much pride and gratitude for everyone involved."

On April 1, 2024, the Myers watched as Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed the "Michigan Family Protection Act," a package of bills that decriminalized surrogacy contracts, allows a person other than the woman giving birth to be listed as a child's biological mother, and provides guardrails for anyone involved in a surrogacy or IVF pregnancy.

Nearly a decade earlier, in 2015, Tammy Myers was diagnosed with breast cancer. She started a blog to document her fight against cancer. Her online posts attracted attention from people across the country, including an invite to the Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Years after her cancer treatment finished, the Myers put a call out for someone to carry one of their babies in pregnancy. Before chemotherapy Tammy had some of her eggs harvested in hopes of having a second child.

A year later, the Myers announced they'd found a woman to do just that, only Lauren Vermilye wasn't carrying one baby. She was growing twins.

Eames and Ellison Myers were born after 32 weeks in the womb on January 11, 2021. The twins spent weeks at the NICU at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital.

Eames and Ellison Myers
Tammy Myers holds twins, Eames and Ellison, in NICU at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

RELATED: Myers family gives back to Children's Hospital

While the babies fought to grow a little more, Tammy and Jordan were caught in a legal battle. Kent County judges ruled the Myers could not be the twins' biological parents listed on their birth certificates. The rulings cited the Surrogacy Parent Act, which banned any surrogacy that involved compensation and prevented any surrogacy agreement null and void in court.

Tammy and Jordan Myers with Twins
Tammy and Jordan Myers hold their Twins Eames and Ellison in the NICU at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital

The Myers were able to take the twins home under temporary guardianship in February 2021. It wasn't until April that Eames and Ellison were legally granted to the Myers.

Tammy and Jordan Myers with Twins
Tammy and Jordan Myers hold twins, Eames and Ellison inside NICU at Helen DeVos Children's Hosptial

However they still had to go through the costly adoption process to gain full parental rights. The boy and girl were formally adopted in December 2022.

Because of the legal struggle, Jordan and Tammy became advocates for changes to state law, petitioning elected officials to join their cause.

It wasn't until early 2024 that the bills received serious support in Lansing, passing the House and Senate over just a few weeks.

Now the Myers hope other families facing fertility issues won't have to fight the state too.

"I know it's going to mean a lot to families in the future, who are looking to grow their family through assisted reproduction, and IVF and gestational surrogacy," said Myers. "I knew that this was something that I would never give up on something that I would do with anything within my power, to continue to raise advocacy and hope that no other family would face what my family has had to face."

Both the Myers and Governor Whitmer addressed the timing of the signing.

"To be the last state to recognize that surrogacy is an honorable, important scientific way for people to grow families is it's kind of, you know, a shame that it took Michigan this long," said Whitmer. "But I'm thrilled that with our new Democratic majority in Lansing, we were able to get it done."

Tammy Myers and Eames
Tammy Myers holds son, Eames

"I think people everywhere are noticing or realizing the importance of this for families who require assistance and growing their family," said Myers. "I can't say I've I've ever thought that I'd be a trailblazer. But it's amazing to hear those words."

2022_People_Myers Family Christmas Photo_01.jpg
Myers family

The Myers started a fund to support couples wanting to have a child after cancer.

Complete press conference and signing of Michigan Family Protection Act

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