This Michigan Family Is Fighting to Adopt Their Own Twins, Born via Surrogate: 'They're Trying to Tear Us Apart'

When her breast cancer treatment prevented her from carrying her own children, Tammy Myers used a gestational carrier. But due to outdated laws, she and her husband must fight in court to legally be their twins’ parents

Tammy and Jordan Myers of Grand Rapids, Michigan, have their hands full. They are raising a nine-year-old daughter, Corryn, and twins Eames and Ellison, who are nearly 10 months old and "thriving," Tammy says.

On top of their busy, full home life, the Myerses have their hands full with a legal battle. That's because after breast cancer treatment left Tammy unable to carry children, the couple used a gestational carrier for their biological twinsbut restrictive laws in their home state of Michigan surrounding surrogacy mean they are being forced to adopt their own biological children.

As the children approach their first birthday, Tammy and Jordan are still in the middle of their adoption case, including rigorous mental evaluations, home inspections, and letters of recommendation – despite the twins being biologically their children and their gestational carrier, Lauren, having legally agreed to the arrangement. Here is their story, as told to PEOPLE.

Tammy: We had Corryn naturally. My pregnancy with Corryn was difficult but beautiful; throughout the pregnancy we had a few complications. But the moment Corryn came out, I looked at my husband and said, "I'd do this again." I knew right away I wanted more – I'd wanted a large family since I was a girl.

Enjoying time with Eames and Ellison during their NICU Stay
Jordan and Tammy Myers with Ellison and Eames. Tammy Myers

We were trying for our second when Corryn was about two and a half. We had a lot going on in our lives; we were living in Columbus, Ohio at the time, planning to move back to Michigan. We bought a house, and everything was falling into place as a young married couple. It seemed like the perfect time to grow our family – and then I found a lump.

The diagnosis was earth shattering. Everything moved so quickly because of how aggressive breast cancer is in young women. The oncologist sat me down and told me how serious it was. I asked, "How long do I have?" and then "Can I have more children?" [The doctor] teared up and looked at me and said "No, not the traditional way."

Tammy Myers
Tammy Myers

But I'm so glad [fertility] was top of mind for me. Only through asking the right questions was I put in touch with the right people who pulled the right strings to set everything in motion. The only way we could grow our family with a biological child would be to harvest my eggs, freeze them, and use a gestational carrier.

It was a tough decision for us; it depleted everything we had in savings and put a really big financial burden on our family. We had done a lot of research and very easily could have adopted a child and loved them just as much as we love our biological children, but it was the most cost-effective to have our own children. It was a hard decision to make, but I'm grateful that we took the leap of faith.

Tammy Myers with Gestational Carrier, Lauren Vermily
Tammy Myers

Through a vulnerable Facebook post, Tammy and Jordan found Lauren, their gestational carrier and a friend of a friend. Lauren had carried her own two babies easily and felt a calling to help a family unable to do so themselves, as a gift to the couple.

Tammy: It's really complicated in Michigan, and we knew a little of that going in, but it's hard to [really] know what you're getting yourself into. We went through a fertility clinic in Grand Rapids, met with an attorney, drew up paperwork and a plan, and my eggs were fertilized with Jordan's sperm. The embryos were implanted into our gestational carrier, Lauren.

[Our attorney] did say, worst case scenario, we'd be forced to adopt, but she didn't believe that would be the case. First we tried for a pre-birth order. Over 75 couples in Michigan who are in our exact same situation [received] pre-birth orders, which basically gives them legal rights to the baby before they're even born. We started that process – but the babies were born eight weeks early.

November is National Adoption Month, and PEOPLE is celebrating by highlighting the many extraordinary ways families can grow via adoption, featuring real stories from celebrities, everyday parents and adoptees, as well as information on the varied ways to adopt. For more heartwarming, heartbreaking and happy-ending stories, visit our Adoption page.

Because of the twins' early arrival, the pre-birth order process was not complete, which meant Tammy and Jordan had to fight for emergency legal rights to the babies in order to put them on their health insurance, among other things. This was denied, as well as a second attempt at obtaining Jordan's paternal rights to the children. (Even if Jordan had been granted paternal rights, Tammy would have still had to adopt her own biological children as a stepparent because she did not carry them herself.)

This forced the Myerses to face the worst-case scenario: Having to fully adopt their own biological children because of Michigan's laws around surrogacy.

Tammy: That was shattering. I'd already been through cancer and fought for my life and was finally moving on. I would carry my own children if I had the chance. I wasn't choosing not to carry.

We knew there would be paperwork involved, but we had no idea it would be a legal battle for the rights of our babies. I'm almost thankful we didn't know. I'm not sure we would have gone this route. But nothing could take away the blessing we have in our lives. We've opened the door to the injustice happening because of this outdated law.

Enjoying time with Eames and Ellison during their NICU Stay
Tammy Myers

The law referenced is Michigan's 1988 Surrogate Parenting Act, which makes compensated surrogacy illegal for carriers and intended parents and, even if a surrogate isn't compensated, says that any agreement made between parties won't be recognized in court.

Tammy: Michigan's current surrogacy law was passed in the 1980s as a reaction to the Baby M case, where a traditional surrogate who was biologically linked to the baby changed her mind about giving the child to the intended parents. She fled across the country with the child and spurred headlines, with the nation watching in horror.

But the Baby M case is nothing like surrogacy today or the gestational carrier process, which is where the carrier has no genetic link to the baby. Our gestational carrier, Lauren, chose to carry our biological babies out of the goodness of her heart without any personal gain or compensation.

Listen below to Me Becoming Mom to hear Jillian Michaels' adoption journey and her unique road to motherhood.

Tammy and Lauren
Tammy Myers

Jordan: She has been more than supportive, fighting the good fight alongside us.

Tammy: The truth is, there have been huge advances in assisted reproductive technology over the past 40 years, making it possible for couples like us to safely grow our biological family through the help of a gestational carrier – but the Michigan laws involving surrogacy of any kind have not kept up with these technological advances.

Tammy and Jordan have had the children home the whole time, but because they are not legally their parents, they're still undergoing the painstaking process of qualifying for adoption, from background checks to home visits.

Jordan: We are now the legal guardians of the kids.

Tammy: We're hoping to have everything finalized by their first birthday. We've always wanted nothing more than to bring our babies home and love them. [The court] has put us through hell. There are unfit parents who may not want their children, or neglect or abuse them, but they skate by because they carried them.

Jordan: The whole point of family law is to keep families together. We are a family. They are our biological children. There's no denying that. Yet they're trying to tear us apart.

Tammy: We are fighting to keep our family together here.

November is National Adoption Month, and PEOPLE is celebrating by highlighting the many extraordinary ways families can grow via adoption, featuring real stories from celebrities, everyday parents and adoptees, as well as information on the varied ways to adopt. For more heartwarming, heartbreaking and happy-ending stories, visit our Adoption page.

Jordan and Tammy Myers with children, Corryn, Eames, and Ellison
The Myers family (from left): Jordan, Eames, Corryn, Tammy and Ellison. Tammy Myers

If I could say anything to [Michigan] Governor [Gretchen] Whitmer, I would say: 48 other states have updated their laws surrounding surrogacy and the gestational carrier surrogacy process, making it possible for couples like us to grow their family in a nontraditional way without facing a legal battle for custody of their biological babies. It is time for our great state of Michigan to rise above these archaic laws and the injustices that have been placed upon my family and pave the way for couples who will someday walk in our shoes.

It's unfortunate our family has had to go through this, but it's a blessing it became so public. It has shown the damage this can do to a family trying to grow in a nontraditional way.

Once I closed the cancer door and was able to move on with my life, I still felt like there was more I was meant to do. Then this [fight for our children] started happening, and I told Jordan, "This is meant to be, too. We were meant to make this better." Unfortunately, we're the example, but I hope our story going public means we will be the last family who faces this hardship in Michigan.

Gestational Carrier Lauren Vermilye and her husband
Tammy Myers

Today the twins are flourishing, and Tammy and Jordan's gestational carrier Lauren and her husband Jonathan have become friends that are more like family – they were even named godparents of the babies.

Tammy: We're overjoyed. It's hard to put into words. We finally feel complete. We were a happy family of three. We love our daughter Corryn, but we always felt something was missing. We now have the missing link in these crazy, adorable, feisty babies that complete our family.

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