Saturday, 24 October 2020

EXCLUSIVE: Surrogate who gave birth to little girl for Chinese couple ended up taking care of newborn for nearly three months after parents couldn't travel to US due to Covid-19, as the grateful family named baby Jennifer after her

 A surrogate mother who gave birth to a little girl for a Chinese couple during the pandemic has told how she took care of the newborn for nearly three months while the new parents fought travel restrictions to enter the US, she told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview.

Jennifer Parson, from Tucson, Arizona, said despite two previous surrogacy journeys, nothing could have prepared her for a worldwide pandemic that would throw both families' plans in the lurch.

The 31-year-old explained she became aware of Covid-19 a bit earlier than most since the baby's parents were from Shenzhen, China, just outside Hong Kong, and were placed on strict lockdown in early January.

In the following months, the parents came to the heartbreaking realization they wouldn't be able to travel to the US by June for the birth of their first child, so they asked if Parson would be willing to take care of their newborn daughter until they were able to come.

Parson, who shares a mixed household of four children with her husband Rob, barely hesitated when she said yes. And out of a sign of appreciation for her selflessness, the family decided to name the baby Jennifer.

Parson told DailyMail.com: 'The whole point of going into surrogacy is to have that reward at the end knowing that you helped somebody else create their family.

'I think knowing that we had so many challenges put in front of us and still both parties handled it with absolute grace - that was the most rewarding thing.'

Baby Jennifer flew back to China with her parents on September 20 and Parson admitted it was emotional to say goodbye, adding: 'It really showed how much love goes into creating a family.

'She was a part of our family. We absolutely adored every aspect and every moment of everything that she had to offer.'

Jennifer Parson, a surrogate mother who gave birth to a little girl for a Chinese couple during the pandemic, has told how she took care of the newborn for nearly three months while the new parents fought travel restrictions to enter the US, she told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview

Jennifer Parson, a surrogate mother who gave birth to a little girl for a Chinese couple during the pandemic, has told how she took care of the newborn for nearly three months while the new parents fought travel restrictions to enter the US, she told DailyMail.com in an exclusive interview

And in a sign of appreciation for her selflessness, the family decided to name the baby Jennifer after her surrogate mother

And in a sign of appreciation for her selflessness, the family decided to name the baby Jennifer after her surrogate mother 

Baby Jennifer flew back to China with her parents on September 20 and Parson admitted it was emotional to say goodbye, adding: 'It really showed how much love goes into creating a family. She was a part of our family. We absolutely adored every aspect and every moment of everything that she had to offer'

Baby Jennifer flew back to China with her parents on September 20 and Parson admitted it was emotional to say goodbye, adding: 'It really showed how much love goes into creating a family. She was a part of our family. We absolutely adored every aspect and every moment of everything that she had to offer'

Parson told DailyMail.com: 'The whole point of going into surrogacy is to have that reward at the end knowing that you helped somebody else create their family. I think knowing that we had so many challenges put in front of us and still both parties handled it with absolute grace was the most rewarding thing'

Parson told DailyMail.com: 'The whole point of going into surrogacy is to have that reward at the end knowing that you helped somebody else create their family. I think knowing that we had so many challenges put in front of us and still both parties handled it with absolute grace was the most rewarding thing'

Parson said the whole experience was immensely rewarding, saying: 'We're definitely looking forward to still having them as a part of our extended family for a long time'

Parson said the whole experience was immensely rewarding, saying: 'We're definitely looking forward to still having them as a part of our extended family for a long time'

Parson began her surrogacy journey in 2012, first with an unsuccessful pregnancy with a couple from Paris and then a successful pregnancy with a couple from Germany in 2014, giving birth to boy-girl twins.

She explained the initial application process is lengthy, going through a background check and psychology evaluation to ensure candidates are qualified.

The teacher's assistant, who is pursuing her Bachelor's degree in science and early childhood education in order to be a teacher, explained she wanted to be a surrogate because while she loved the pregnancy experience, she didn't want any more children herself.

She said: 'I started my family when I was pretty young and pregnancy was always really easy for me. I noticed that's not always the case, some people have a really hard time either getting pregnant or just the pregnancy in itself is very difficult.

'I knew, especially after my third one, that I loved pregnancy but I didn't want more kids for myself.

'So with my family being completed, I wanted to still give the gift of someone else having the same experience as us.'

Parson laughed and said to sum it up: 'I wanted to be pregnant and help somebody but I didn't want more kids.'

After her most recent surrogacy experience back in 2014, Parson said she was ready to be a surrogate again, and working with an international agency she was eventually paired with baby Jennifer's parents.

She said: 'We met on a Zoom phone call with the couple and we hit it off immediately. We definitely knew that we felt comfortable with going forward with the process.

'It was pretty fast, then we had to go to LA and have a medical screening.'

Contracts were signed in early February of 2019 and the embryo transfer was completed that October.

Parson said while the first trimester was going really well, Covid-19 cases began to slowly sprout up in China.

Surrogate shares journey to get baby to her parents in China
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Contracts were signed in early February of 2019 and the embryo transfer was completed that October. Parson said while the first trimester was going really well, Covid-19 cases began to slowly sprout up in China. Pictured: Ultrasound at 17 weeks of baby Jennifer

Contracts were signed in early February of 2019 and the embryo transfer was completed that October. Parson said while the first trimester was going really well, Covid-19 cases began to slowly sprout up in China. Pictured: Ultrasound at 17 weeks of baby Jennifer   

But Parson explained that she wasn't that concerned about the virus because it seemed so far away in China, adding: 'We thought it had plenty of time to resolve itself. June was their due date. We couldn't still be fighting this, we thought.' Pictured: Parson at 22 weeks in February

But Parson explained that she wasn't that concerned about the virus because it seemed so far away in China, adding: 'We thought it had plenty of time to resolve itself. June was their due date. We couldn't still be fighting this, we thought.' Pictured: Parson at 22 weeks in February 

She said: 'December is when we started to really understand that there was something happening over there [China].

'They were supposed to come down for the anatomy scan which was at the 20-week mark in January. 

'They had hoped to come and they let us know that unfortunately they weren't able to travel because they were being quarantined in China. They weren't able to leave their house.

'So that really brought it to our attention, like ''Oh wow. So this is happening''.

But Parson explained she wasn't that concerned about the virus because it seemed so far away in China, adding: 'We thought it had plenty of time to resolve itself.

'June was their due date. We wouldn't still be fighting this, we thought.'

But slowly coronavirus made its way to the United States, and in March flights from China were halted.

Parson said: 'It still kind of felt surreal because we're like, ''Okay, well that's three months away. Surely they can't shut down the country for more than three months of travel''.  But little did we know.

'I think April and May is when we really started to get more and more nervous.'

Parson said the parents even looked at options at traveling to a third country that wasn't barred from entering the United States and quarantining there before entering the country, but that wasn't a safe bet either.

So in May they asked Parson and her husband if they would be willing to care for their newborn in the event that they weren't able to make it to the US for the birth.

She said: 'I could tell that they were extremely sad not to be able to be here because they had never had a baby before.'

Parson said she could tell they weren't trying to put too much pressure on her, but the other options would be for the surrogate agency to care for the baby or hiring a full-time caregiver.


Parson said the parents even looked at options at traveling to a third country that wasn't barred from entering the United States and quarantining there before entering the country, but that wasn't a safe bet either. So in May, they asked Parson and her husband if they would be willing to care for their newborn in the event that they weren't able to make it there for the birth. Pictured: Baby Jennifer soon after she was born

Parson said the parents even looked at options at traveling to a third country that wasn't barred from entering the United States and quarantining there before entering the country, but that wasn't a safe bet either. So in May, they asked Parson and her husband if they would be willing to care for their newborn in the event that they weren't able to make it there for the birth. Pictured: Baby Jennifer soon after she was born 

As the due date approached, Parson was getting paperwork together in order to ensure things went smoothly at the hospital. She asked the parents if they had decided on a name yet and was shocked when told they were deciding between a family name of Yolanda or Jennifer. Parson said: 'I was like, 'Jennifer, as in my name Jennifer?' I told them not to feel pressured at all to do that and they said, 'No it's something that's important to us because it is part of her story'

As the due date approached, Parson was getting paperwork together in order to ensure things went smoothly at the hospital. She asked the parents if they had decided on a name yet and was shocked when told they were deciding between a family name of Yolanda or Jennifer. Parson said: 'I was like, 'Jennifer, as in my name Jennifer?' I told them not to feel pressured at all to do that and they said, 'No it's something that's important to us because it is part of her story'

Pictured: Parson bought a stuffed animal for baby Jennifer and put a picture of her parents in it, so they could feel close by to their daughter

Pictured: Parson bought a stuffed animal for baby Jennifer and put a picture of her parents in it, so they could feel close by to their daughter 

Parson explained they made sure to capture everything of baby Jennifer's first few months, to ensure her parents felt included and that they weren't missing out

Parson explained they made sure to capture everything of baby Jennifer's first few months, to ensure her parents felt included and that they weren't missing out

She said: 'I said yes of course immediately. There was no question. We said we'll do whatever you guys need.

'If it was our situation, we would rather have somebody that the baby is comfortable with and at least knows their voices, so they have a little bit of familiarity instead of a complete stranger. So we said yes as soon as they asked.'

As the due date approached, Parson was getting paperwork together in order to ensure things went smoothly at the hospital.

She asked the parents if they had decided on a name yet and was shocked when she learned they were deciding between a family name of Yolanda or Jennifer.

Parson said: 'I was like, ''Jennifer, as in my name Jennifer?'' I told them not to feel pressured at all to do that and they said, ''No it's something that's important to us because it is part of her story''.'

In the weeks leading up to the birth, Parson learned that baby Jennifer was breached and after unsuccessfully trying naturally to get her to move, they went into the hospital for a checkup and learned they would have to have a C-section later that day.

Parson said they were initially told about the delivery plan that morning, so they quickly let baby Jennifer's parents know. 

The surgery time kept getting pushed back until late that night, so luckily with the time difference of 15 hours, baby Jennifer's parents were awake, leaving work because they were so excited.

Baby Jennifer was born late on June 9, weighing 6lbs, 10 oz and measuring 18in.

Parson praised her 'amazing' husband Rob who kept the family updated and took photos and videos of the first moments of baby Jennifer's life.

Parson explained they made sure to capture everything of baby Jennifer's first few months, to ensure her parents felt included and that they weren't missing out.

She explained: 'There's so much that happens in the first three months that as a veteran parent you almost take that for granted.

Baby Jennifer was born late on June 9, weighing 6lbs, 10 oz and measuring 18in

Baby Jennifer was born late on June 9, weighing 6lbs, 10 oz and measuring 18in

Parson praised her 'amazing' husband Rob (pictured) who kept the family updated and took photos and videos of the first moments of baby Jennifer's life. Parson explained they made sure to capture everything to ensure her parents felt included

Parson praised her 'amazing' husband Rob (pictured) who kept the family updated and took photos and videos of the first moments of baby Jennifer's life. Parson explained they made sure to capture everything to ensure her parents felt included

Parson said: 'We made sure to take as many pictures and videos as we could throughout the day, just different things, different activities, like her in her new swing, showing them what we were doing with her'

Parson said: 'We made sure to take as many pictures and videos as we could throughout the day, just different things, different activities, like her in her new swing, showing them what we were doing with her'

She continued: 'I definitely wanted to send as many videos to really make them feel like they were here and as many pictures.

'I had asked them what they wanted to see, like did they want to see a diaper change? And they did! That was kind of surprising but they wanted to see everything because they were missing it.

'So we sent videos of us changing her diaper. They wanted to see her crying to even know what that sounds like because newborn crying is so different in the first couple of weeks.

'We just made sure to take as many pictures and videos as we could throughout the day, just different things, different activities, like her in her new swing, showing them what we were doing with her.

'It was really important for us because we wanted to make sure that they felt a 100 percent included.'

All the while, baby Jennifer's parents were figuring out a way to travel to Arizona.

Parson explained it wasn't just the ban on Chinese nationals coming into the US, but the restricted number of flights coming and leaving the country that made planning difficult.

But at the end of July, they informed Parson they finally managed to secure a flight for August 30.

Parson quickly began preparing for their arrival and planned for them to stay for the first week in a new camper her family had recently bought, parking it out in their driveway so they could be close to baby Jennifer as they began her transition over to them. 

She explained: 'That way we didn't have to worry about hotels and so that they could really spend as much time as possible just getting to know their baby.'

Finally, on August 31 Jennifer's parents arrived in Arizona after hours of traveling.

Parson explained they were very nervous about picking up the virus while traveling, so they came dressed in full protection suits and wanted to meet their daughter after they had cleaned up.

Parson said: 'They wanted to take as many precautions as possible so that they didn't have any issues when it came to the virus while they were traveling.

All the while, baby Jennifer's parents were figuring out a way to travel to Arizona. Parson explained it wasn't just the ban on Chinese nationals coming into the US, but the restricted number of flights coming and leaving the country that made planning difficult. But at the end of July, they informed Parson they finally managed to secure a flight for August 30

All the while, baby Jennifer's parents were figuring out a way to travel to Arizona. Parson explained it wasn't just the ban on Chinese nationals coming into the US, but the restricted number of flights coming and leaving the country that made planning difficult. But at the end of July, they informed Parson they finally managed to secure a flight for August 30

Parson said: 'My husband's grandmother had crocheted him a blanket when he was a baby, and so we gave her that same blanket that he used in his 40-year-old bassinet. It has all the names and birth dates embroidered on it, and hers is on there too'

Parson said: 'My husband's grandmother had crocheted him a blanket when he was a baby, and so we gave her that same blanket that he used in his 40-year-old bassinet. It has all the names and birth dates embroidered on it, and hers is on there too'

She continued: 'They took about 30 minutes or so to kind of collect themselves. You could tell that they were just so really excited. It was one of those moments.

'They were waiting so long for it and it was definitely touching. Everyone was a little teary eyed.'

During the course of the week, the parents got to learn baby Jennifer's routine, how to change her diaper, how to hold her and how to feed her.

Parson said: 'The last thing that anybody wanted to do was frustrate either party. I think taking a few days so that she could get used to them throughout the day, it made it more comfortable for them.'

After the first week, the parents took baby Jennifer to a rented house down the road from Parson, where they still visited and helped out by driving them to the grocery store.

And after nearly three weeks in Arizona, it was time to say goodbye to baby Jennifer.

Parson said: 'We knew the goodbye was coming and it was hard.

'We sent them off with a photo album that had all the pictures of her up until the point they got here. It also had her hat and shirt from the hospital, her footprints. 

'My husband's grandmother had crocheted him a blanket when he was a baby, and so we gave her that same blanket that he used in his 40-year-old bassinet. It has all the names and birth dates embroidered on it, and hers is on there too. 

'We definitely had some tears at the airport, but I was also excited for them because they had waited such a long time to travel here, to get used to taking care of her - all while working remotely. '

And after nearly three weeks in Arizona, it was time to say goodbye to baby Jennifer. Parson said: 'We knew the goodbye was coming and it was hard'

And after nearly three weeks in Arizona, it was time to say goodbye to baby Jennifer. Parson said: 'We knew the goodbye was coming and it was hard'

Parson said the whole experience was immensely rewarding, saying: 'It really showed how much love goes into creating a family. When she was here, she was a part of our family'
Parson said the whole experience was immensely rewarding, saying: 'It really showed how much love goes into creating a family. When she was here, she was a part of our family'

Parson said the whole experience was immensely rewarding, saying: 'It really showed how much love goes into creating a family. When she was here, she was a part of our family'

But while Parson isn't planning on becoming a surrogate again, explaining that three surrogacy pregnancies were enough for her, she'd only do it again for baby Jennifer's family. She said: 'They were sort of robbed of her first three months - so if that couple in general came to me and wanted another baby, they would be the only ones that I'd be a surrogate for'

But while Parson isn't planning on becoming a surrogate again, explaining that three surrogacy pregnancies were enough for her, she'd only do it again for baby Jennifer's family. She said: 'They were sort of robbed of her first three months - so if that couple in general came to me and wanted another baby, they would be the only ones that I'd be a surrogate for'

Parson said the whole experience was immensely rewarding, saying: 'It really showed how much love goes into creating a family. When she was here, she was a part of our family.

'We absolutely adored every aspect and every moment of everything that she had to offer. It was magic.  

'I think the most rewarding thing was seeing two families with unconditional love just work with each other with no issues.

'We did everything that we could and they did everything that they could to make sure their baby was the 100 percent sole focus. I think that's really special.

'It seemed very simplistic, like ''this is what we have to do'' and it allowed us not to panic about anything because there was such a focus on where our hearts were at. So it was definitely a positive experience.'

But while Parson isn't planning on becoming a surrogate again, explaining that three surrogacy pregnancies were enough for her, she'd only do it again for baby Jennifer's family.

She said: 'They were sort of robbed of her first three months - so if that couple in general came to me and wanted another baby, they would be the only ones that I'd be a surrogate for.' 

Parson added: 'We're definitely looking forward to still having them as part of our extended family for a long time.'  

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