A mother in California decided to help out others and signed up to be a surrogate mother. Jessica Allen already had a beautiful family of her own with her husband and their two children, so she decided she wanted to help make other couples happy who either couldn’t or chose not to conceive on their own. After choosing to become a surrogate mother and getting matched with another couple, she successfully had an embryo implanted, but something strange happened a few weeks later that would change her life forever.
In 2016, it turned out that Allen was unexpectedly pregnant with twins. She was already receiving compensation from the family she was a surrogate for, and they increased the price once they learned they were having two babies instead of just one. Allen happily went through with the surrogacy and gave birth to both babies on Dec. 12, 2016 at Riverside Community Hospital via a cesarean section. Just one month later, she was faced with yet another twist and turn in the story when she received some unexpected news.
It turned out that only one of the babies biologically belonged to the other couple. Allen and her husband Wardell Jasper had conceived another child together while she was pregnant as a surrogate, meaning that the second baby was biologically hers. What she believed was a set of twins was actually two separate babies with completely different DNA. A custody battle soon followed shortly after as Allen worked on bringing her biological baby back home and completing her beautiful family.
During an interview with the New York Post, Allen opened up about the day she gave birth to what she thought was a set of identical twins and the many twists and complications that ensued. “It was written in my $35,000 contract that I was allowed an hour with the newborns before they were discharged from the maternity unit,” Allen explained. However, the biological parents she had been a surrogate for did not allow that to happen, and she was only shown a picture of the babies. This is when Allen noticed just how different they looked.
It turned out that their differences went much further than their appearances. The New York Post reported that the two babies were actually not twins, but rather two babies with different DNA and separate sets of parents. One baby was biologically Allen and Jasper’s, while the other was biologically the other couple’s.
Allen had used in vitro fertilization to get pregnant with the other couple’s child, but had conceived her own naturally at the same time. Good Morning America reported that this rare phenomenon is called superfetation, which occurs when a woman continues to ovulate after becoming pregnant, resulting in two babies with different sets of parents and different gestational ages.
“I carried my own child and I didn’t know he was mine,” Allen emotionally told Good Morning America. Since one of the babies was biologically hers, Allen began her custody battle to get him back home with her. News24 reported that the mother paid the other couple somewhere between $18,000 and $22,000 as “compensation,” and was able to gain full legal custody of her son in February 2017, making her family whole once again.
Before Allen had gained custody of her son, she told CBC News:
"This is a type of pain that you're never going to get over because they stole something from me that I can never get back."
According to New York Post, Allen even renamed her son once she finally got him back:
"And so, on Feb. 5, I finally met a caseworker from Omega in a Starbucks parking lot in Menifee, Calif., where she handed over our son, whom we've renamed Malachi."
Allen was extremely emotional once she regained custody of her son. She said:
"The moment was incredibly emotional, and I started hugging and kissing my boy. It's now been nearly nine months since we got Malachi, and he is doing well. He's beautiful. He's healthy and his personality is hilarious. He loves his big brothers, is learning to walk and is starting to speak."
Allen went on to explain how she and her husband weren't actually planning to have another child, as she told New York Post:
"Wardell and I, who got married in April, weren't planning to expand our family so soon, but we treasure Malachi with all our hearts. I don't regret becoming a surrogate mom because that would mean regretting my son. I just hope other women considering surrogacy can learn from my story. And that a greater good will come out of this nightmare."
According to Legalize Surrogacy, the lawsuit had the following to say on the situation:
"The damage has been done by the defendants and Jessica, Wardell and most importantly Malachi, are now left to live with the long-lasting consequences of the defendants' wrongs against them."