A loving sister has given birth to her brother and his partner’s baby girl.
But Chapelle Cooper will always be a ‘special’ aunt – and not her ‘mummy’.
Chapelle, 27, stepped in when brother Scott Stephenson, 30, and his partner Michael Smith, 29, found adopting a baby was both expensive and complex.
She made the life changing decision to become a surrogate mum and give her brother “the gift of life”.
Harper Elizabeth Smith, born on Friday at 5lbs 8oz, was conceived using Chapelle’s egg and Michael’s sperm.
Shop assistant Chapelle, of Dalton, Cumbria, first offered to become a surrogate mum for Scott – who is her half brother – and private school teacher Michael last summer.
“There was so many obstacles to adoption,” she said today.
“Surrogacy was brought up but there was the worry about trusting someone, and it was very expensive.
“So I offered to do it and we took it from there.”
They spent days talking about it, and even wrote a list of potential pitfalls.
But single mum Chapelle, who has a daughter Ivy, five, added: “We went through everything that could go wrong, including if I might want to keep her.
“But it was the perfect time in my life to do it.
“I will always love her as my own. But I will not take on the role of mum.
“I just want to be a favourite auntie.”
Scott described Chapelle’s gift as “incredible, the most remarkable thing”.
“She offered to do it out of the goodness of her own heart,” he said.
“It has brought us together as a family, what was already a strong bond is now even closer.
“I saw the labour and physical pain she went through and it changes you.
Obviously we have Harper at the end of it and it is just incredible, I just feel amazement I guess.”
He added that his sister has ‘completely detached herself maternally from Harper’. “Children only know what is normal to them,” he said. “She will know she was carried by her aunt.
“Kids only know what is normal to them. Some see mums through the week and dads at week-ends, and it is the same kind of thing.
“Michael and I will be full and legal parents of her. She will not have any reason to pursue any maternal relationship with Chapelle.
“She has done an incredible thing for us but that maternal care will come from us. We are never going to use the word mummy. Chapelle is happy with that situation as well.
“She will be a very special auntie.”
Chapelle conceived at her third attempt using a syringe for Michael’s sperm. Michael, a teacher at £3,875-a-term Kirkham Grammar School near Preston, said: “Adoption was a brilliant process but there were lots of hoops, it was clearly going to take a long time.
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“I always felt this massive pull and drive to have my own child, and we looked at surrogacy. When Chapelle said ‘Why don’t I just do it?, we were completely blown away.”
His parents, and Scott and Chapelle’s mum Linda Cooper, 53, will help with child care for the couple, of Blackpool, Lancs.
They paid for a second hand £5,500 Citroen C3 for Chapelle so she could get around during pregnancy and she took maternity leave, while they had adoption leave, so no other financial support for her was needed.
Michael and Scott, a valuation manager, who are engaged after meeting five years ago, are ‘absolutely in love’ with their family’s new addition.
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