Ashleigh Sunderlin hasn’t had it easy. At 23 years of age, a 17-pound tumor was removed from her abdomen. She lost a Fallopian tube and her right ovary when the tumor was removed. Years later, she discovered her right ovary had cysts in it, but they were removed with the chance of still being able to get pregnant. Wanting a chance to have a child, Sunderlin lost 100 lbs. And then she received more bad news: she had cervical cancer which resulted in a hysterectomy.
But that didn’t stop Sunderlin from moving forward with her wish to have a child. She told USA Today: “It’s always been really important to me. I’ve never been able to picture my life not as a mom. It’s never crossed my mind to say, ‘Nope, I’m happy without kids.’ I refuse to accept that as the outcome.”
Sunderlin has decided to move forward with surrogacy, but not without challenges. The cost of surrogacy prompted Sunderlin to create a GoFundMe. On top of that, her home-state, Michigan, is not very “surrogacy-friendly.” Sunderlin explained that it’s illegal to pay surrogates in Michigan outside of medical reimbursement. She mentions that some counties require the birth parent to actually undergo home study and adoption to bring home their own child.
Sunderlin wrote: “I believe that this is a process that seriously needs to be looked at by the State of Michigan. I was recently informed of the 2016 Senate Bill 811: Permit Surrogate Mother Contracts. I will be researching this bill much more.”
An update on her GoFundMe page explains that she is already working toward changing the law: “I just emailed Senator Rebekah Warren, Senator Steven Bieda, Senator Emmons, Senator Rick Jones and Representative Tom Barrett about my story and about my support for Bill 0811. My voice will be heard!”
This single woman’s journey is amazing and it is without a doubt a wonderful time in this world when single women or women who have had major infertility issues such as Sunderlin has, are able to move forward with having a child in other ways.
And like Sunderlin notes, “It truly takes a village to raise…and in some cases like mine, to conceive…a child. If it’s 1 parent, or 2, or 3, or 4…nothing else matters as long as there is unconditional love and support.”