The Short of It
A mom in her 40s carries four babies for two gay couples so they can realize the joy of having children of their own.
You could say New England mother, Rachel Segall, has committed the ultimate act of generosity for her friends. And she hasn't even let her AMA, aka advanced maternal age, stop her. Segall has acted as a surrogate three times to help two same-sex couples welcome the babies they always dreamed of, for free.
Her story is chronicled in a new documentary called, "The Guys Next Door," which is screening next week at the Provincetown International Film Festival in Massachusetts.
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It all started about seven years ago, when she learned her college friend, Erik Mercer, wanted to become a father with his partner, Sandro Sechi. Segall, who was already in her 40s at the time, had birthed three children of own. But unprompted, she actually offered to carry a baby for them free of charge.
"It's at least $50,000 or $60,000 to pay someone to carry for you," she told the Boston Globe. "People can adopt, but why should we be able to have biological kids when we want to and they're not able to have the same option?"
Understandably, Segall's parents and her husband, Tony Hurley, didn't approve of her extreme act of generosity at first, fearing for her health. But as Segall said, "I'm so lucky. I have such an easy time with pregnancy and delivery, and then I'm fine. I'm my usual self; I don't need bed rest; and I can function. ... I feel blessed that I can do this."
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So both Mercer and Sechi donated sperm, an egg donor was found through New England Fertility, and everyone hoped for the best. "I always wanted to have kids, but I thought it was impossible," Sechi says in the film.
Well, it wasn't. Segall got pregnant on the first try via IVF. She gave birth to Rachel Maria in 2010, and in 2012, she gave birth to Eleonora.
Incredibly, the mom is completely rational about her "job" as a surrogate. She says she didn't have a hard time parting with the babies she carried and didn't feel a maternal bond with them.
"I wasn't looking for that. I knew my role. I was clear. This wasn't my egg. It was more like babysitting," she says. Still, she sees the girls every couple of months.
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Segall, whose own kids are now teenagers, gave birth to twins for yet another gay couple in February. But for their part, Mercer says he can never thank his friend enough for what she has done for them.
"Our gratitude isn't expressed in big, grand gestures but in the smaller, day-to-day way our lives are woven together. How do you give a material thing to thank someone for something so extraordinary? We express it with this ongoing, deepening relationship," he says.