Beautiful baby Chloe is a dream come true for Melissa & Dave. I met them through the most unusual of circumstances; my sister, Lisa, was their surrogate. I’m going to be honest, when Lisa first told me she wanted to be a surrogate, I thought she was crazy! Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of pregnancy, neither of mine were particularly pleasant. I feel terrible saying that given all the women who have problems getting pregnant and have much worse pregnancies than I did. But, my sister, who already had a son when she made this decision, enjoyed pregnancy but did not want another child of her own.
Lisa decided to look into surrogacy and found an agency here in Chicago. She wanted to find an agency that worked with women and couples who had medical reasons they could not have a child on their own. Once she was matched up with a couple, who turned out to be Melissa & Dave, and I heard their story, my feelings on my sisters decision changed. I felt proud of her and humbled by her selflessness in doing this. I also thought to myself how eternally grateful I would be to someone who would do this for me or my sister if it were one of us in this situation.
Melissa & Dave had to seek a surrogate due to the serious medical issues that could arise if Melissa were to carry her baby herself. Melissa has had some very trying circumstances in her life. At age 14 she was diagnosed with Viral Cardiomyopathy which eventually led to her need for a heart transplant. Luckily Melissa received a transplant through a very giving act by a 14 year old girl, Chloe, who wanted to donate all her major organs. If Melissa were to carry her baby she could have rejected the heart or had premature labor. Clearly the safest decision was to seek a surrogate.
To honor Chloe, Melissa & Dave have named their baby girl after Melissa’s donor. Melissa has a great relationship with her organ donor’s family. They have shared the story of the origami crane together, which is an ancient Japanese legend promising anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane, such as long life or recovery from illness or injury. Origami has repeatedly shown up in Melissa’s life. Not only has her donor family given her Origami with the message “Open Hearted” inscribed in it but when Melissa completed Hustle Up the Hancock her donor’s mother was handed a small Origami Crane by the elevator operator indicating it was for her.
Baby Chloe’s room is decorated with the most beautiful origami mobile. She also has the letters spelling her name, Chloe, that once hung in the bedroom of her mother’s heart donor. Melissa & Dave received these letter’s from her donor’s parents when they found out Melissa & Dave were going to be parents to baby girl of their own. The donor’s parents also bought the dress, pictured in the photos from our shoot together, from a trip they took to Peru. They said it reminded them of the dress their Chloe was wearing on the day they picked her up for adoption, at 6 months old, from Guatemala.
I first met Melissa last fall, just a couple of months before Chloe was born. I immediately saw how well my sister and she got along and understood all that much more why Lisa’s decision to become a surrogate was so wonderful. And how truly thankful Melissa & Dave were to her as well as how much they wanted and deserved their baby. After meeting Chloe and seeing how amazing both Melissa & Dave are as parents they deserve the happiness that only a child can bring. I’m so honored they thought of me to be their photographer for their beautiful baby.
Melissa is eternally grateful to her donor. To honor her and the life she now has, Melissa & Dave are dedicated to spreading the word about organ donation and it’s importance. If you would like to hear more about Melissa’s story visit her site, www.MelissaSimon.org. Think of Melissa’s young life being saved by the giving spirit of her donor as well as the life of her daughter, Chloe, who is here because of that same donor’s gift. For more information on organ donation visit, http://donatelife.net/register-now/.