A MUM was so horrified by the parenting struggles her gay brother and his partner encountered that she decided to have a baby for them.
Ashlee Mataele, 30, from Hinchinbrook, Sydney, decided to become a surrogate for her brother David and his partner of eight years, Brendan, when she saw the heartbreak they endured as they pursued their dream of becoming parents.
With adoption and surrogacy proving near impossible for same sex couples, both in Australia and overseas, Ashlee felt compelled to step in and offer to be their “oven.”
Using a donor egg and Brendan’s sperm, Ashlee fell pregnant on their first attempt and gave birth to Rylee McQuiggin earlier this year.
Now Ashlee says she’s thrilled to have been able to give her brother the baby they longed for and has no issues with just being Rylee’s aunt.
Ashlee said: “Being a mum has brought me so much joy, I wanted the same happiness for David and Brendan.
“When I saw how much David and Brendan were struggling to become parents together, I knew I had to help.
“I spoke to my husband, John, about it at length and we both agreed it was the right thing to do.
“Since Rylee’s arrival in June, it’s been amazing to see him flourish in the arms of both his dads.
“Some people think it’s weird that I gave birth to my brother’s baby, but I think its an absolute honour.”
Ashlee, a fulltime mum, is no stranger to parenthood, with her loving brood comprising of Levi, four, and twins, Faith and Harmony, two.
She said: “People questioned if I’d be able to hand over a baby at the end, but that never once worried me. I was the baby’s aunty, not mum.”
David, who already had three kids Danni, 12, Chloe, 10 and Bradley, nine, from a previous relationship had known ever since he met Brendan that they wanted to become parents together.
“We met when we were studying to become interpreters for the Deaf Society, NSW,” recalls Brendan.
“David had three beautiful children and I loved that I got to be a part of their lives as our relationship grew serious.
“But there was always a part of me that wanted to have a baby of my own.
“When we started looking into it, the system was stacked against us for being in a same-sex relationship.
“I honestly thought it would never happen.”
But unbeknown to David and Brendan, Ashlee (who was pregnant with the twins at the time), was witnessing their heartbreak with horror and had hatched up a plan to make their dreams come true.
She said: “After our girls were born, I turned to John and said ‘It’s not right that they’re wonderful parents but they can’t have a baby together.’
“I told him I wanted to offer to be their surrogate and he was amazingly supportive.
“A few months later, after lots of discussions and research, I messaged David and Brendan and offered to ‘cook’ their baby for them.
“It took a few days for them to believe I was serious. They couldn’t believe it.”
Once Ashlee’s generous offer had sunk in, the couple decided to advertise for an egg donor to fertilise with Brendan’s sperm.
Brendan said: “Ashlee’s offer completely floored us.
“It was not only completely genuine, but a way to ensure any baby I fathered, would have a link to David’s family. It was perfect and I was so thankful.”
Ashlee said: “The boys advertised for a donor on a surrogacy forum and within a few days they had a solid offer from a woman named Corrinne Hocking.
“She used to study at the place where Brendan and David met and it felt like all the stars were aligning.
“After doctors created a few viable embryos, I was implanted with the first one in September 2015.
“We discovered it had worked about two weeks later and I got David’s kids to draw banners to tell them the news. It was an amazing moment our families shared.”
For the next nine months, Brendan and David barely left Ashlee’s side. They attended every scan, doctor’s appointment — and even moved in around the corner just to be closer.
When baby Rylee arrived into the world on June 4, 2016 he was put straight into Brendan’s arms.
Ashlee said: “Though I was super excited to meet him, I thought it was far more important he bonded with his dads first.
“After Brendan cut the cord, nurses placed Rylee onto his bare chest. It was beautiful to see.
“It was only after he’d spent a good hour or so with both his dads that I cradled him.
“Looking down at him, with my husband John by my side, I couldn’t believe he was finally here. I kept saying, ‘look what we’ve done.’
“I was so pleased we had given such an incredible gift to two people who mean so much to me.
Brendan stayed at the hospital for three days while Ashlee recovered, taking care of Rylee, before heading home.
She said: “Saying goodbye felt completely natural. I was thrilled to have played such an important part in Rylee’s life, but I was ready to step into the role of his aunty and return to my normal life.
“My kids were ready to have me back because I’d been unable to do a lot for the last few months of the pregnancy.
Now Rylee is 16 weeks old and doing well with his doting dads and older siblings, and Ashlee is sharing her story to raise awareness about the gift of surrogacy.
She said: “It’s still such a taboo and you often only hear about the tough stories, not the positive ones like ours.
“Rylee has only been a positive and the fact I’ve made two very deserving men, parents, should be celebrated.
“I love the fact I get to tell people, I had my brother’s baby. It’s an incredible story.”