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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

One woman's selfless act of surrogacy for her gay best friends

Having children for most gay couples typically means adopting or paid surrogacy, but Benjamin and Eduardo Kaufmann-Malaga found an alternative option.

The California couple enlisted the help of their best friend, Esme Shaller, who volunteered to have their baby for free.

Starting a family was always a lifelong dream for the Kaufmann-Malagas.

"We knew that having kids would be a fantastic thing and we really wanted them," Benjamin Kaufmann-Malaga said on "Good Morning America."

"It looked like an impossible dream," Eduardo Kaufmann-Malaga added of the challenging process.

That's when Shaller stepped in, turning that impossibility into a reality.

"I really loved being pregnant. I had two really easy pregnancies, with both of our girls, and we didn't want a third child of our own -- but I thought I could be pregnant one more time," she said on "GMA." "That's when we started talking about this as a possibility."

The Kaufmann-Malagas sat down with Shaller and her husband, Gary, to work out the logistics. They decided the baby would not be biologically hers and that they would use donors.

"Ben and Eduardo have been a couple pretty much as long as we have, and they're great friends of ours. As soon as we mentioned it, I was like, 'Oh yeah, this is right, this feels right, we've got to do this,'" Gary Shaller said on "GMA."

Once the decision was made, the couples worked to make sure everything was squared away legally.

"We had to hire several lawyers and write down a contract to make sure that everything was spelled out," Ben said.

Experts say having legal representation in these unconventional situations is crucial.

"No. 1: Get a good understanding for what's going to happen after the child is born," family lawyer Steve Mindel said on "GMA." "No. 2: Make sure that the insurances are in place. And No. 3: [Put] the right medical team and legal team to fit into place."

The couples then moved forward with the process, and during Shaller's nine months of pregnancy, she said her maternal instinct never kicked in.

"During the pregnancy, it was surprisingly not emotional; it was exciting and fun," she said. "But I wasn't blissfully looking at my belly or anything like that. I knew it was not my child, and he never felt like my child, so it wasn't a deep emotional process."

Now, the Kaufmann-Malagas have their baby boy, Linus. Ben Kaufmann-Malaga goes by "daddy," and Eduardo Kaufmann-Malaga is "papa," and it's all thanks to Shaller's generosity.

"It was always very clear from day one that we were going to be parents. Esme was the guardian of our child for these nine months," Ben Kaufmann-Malaga said. "We always had an amazing friendship, and I think this is one in a long list of amazing things that she's done."


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