TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — There’s a big change in New Jersey State law that’s making it easier to start a family for couples who are having trouble conceiving.
It involves a gestational carrier, which is a woman who’s carrying a baby that isn’t genetically related to her. That’s very different that a surrogate mother, who is related to the child.
The developing fetus in the gestational carrier’s womb came from someone else’s egg and sperm. It had been all-but-impossible in New Jersey until now.
By all appearances the Goldstein family is a normal, happy family. What makes them unique is that 9-year-old Russell and 6-year-old Jonah were both born from gestational carriers. After a number of miscarriages, the Goldsteins thought their chances for a family had hit a dead end.
“It was very difficult and it was really emotional yeah we were ready for another option,” said wife Debbie.
Debbie and Douglas live in New Jersey, and finding a gestational carrier there was once difficult and risky.
“You couldn’t give them reasonable living expenses, including their rent or their mortgage, or their food so in essence they couldn’t get any payments,” said Melissa Brisman from Reproductive Possibilities, LLC.
The risky part was that under the old law in New Jersey, a gestational carrier had 72 hours after delivering to decide whether she wanted to keep the baby she had carried.
Virtually no couples wanted to take that risk.
“We didn’t have the assurance that the courts would be there for us so we couldn’t have a contract with the carrier,” husband Douglas said.
That’s when the Goldsteins sought the help of Brisman, a reproductive lawyer who’s arranged more than 2,700 surrogate births. She paired the Goldsteins with gestational carriers, first in Utah for Russell and then in Pennsylvania for Jonah.
“You know there’s the medical side of it, there’s the travel side of it, hotel stays back and forth and any other expenses that may come up,” Douglas said.
New legislation in New Jersey allows payment to the carrier for expenses such as food and rent in addition to medical costs and, most importantly, protects both sides at the time of birth.
“In effect in New Jersey, a gestational carrier, if they follow the law, she cannot keep the baby, and the parents must keep the baby,” Brisman said. “This is good for the carrier as well so she knows that she won’t be stuck with a handicapped child.”
The Goldsteins have been upfront with their boys.
“We got here because I couldn’t be born out of my mom’s belly, so we needed someone else to do it,” Russell said.
The law had twice been vetoed by Governor Chris Christie, and was finally signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy in May. Brisman says she’s already been flooded with new requests for carriers in New Jersey.