Christian Newman and husband Mark Edwards thought a stranger was joking when she spontaneously offered to carry their baby.
The same-sex couple, from Auckland, were already the proud fathers of three-year-old son Francis “Frankie” Newman-Edwards, who was born via IVF in June 2018 after finding his surrogate on Facebook.
Although they’ve already achieved their dream of starting a family, the couple couldn’t believe their luck when mother-of-three Natalie Bullions randomly appeared in their Instagram inbox in March 2020.
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“If you need another surrogate, call me. This boy needs a brother,” the stranger’s post read.
Fast forward 20 months, the couple welcomed baby girl Luciana – nicknamed “Lulu” – in November 2021.
“It’s just magic, it’s incredible,” says Christian, 38 7life in an exclusive interview about the birth of her baby girl.
“I still pinch myself because I just can’t believe how lucky we are.”
Prior to the arrival of their daughter, the couple were embracing the joys of parenthood following the birth of their son Frankie.
To welcome her into their family, they had spent three emotional years and nearly $60,000 to find a surrogate mother.
In 2016, the couple launched a social media campaign called “Baby Daddies Looking for Kiwi Surrogate”.
Although they received up to 30 potential candidates, everyone pulled out “one by one” when “things got real”.
Unwilling to give up their hope of starting a family, the couple eventually found a generous paramedic – who “ticked all the boxes” – to carry Frankie.
Random Instagram Post
Little did they know their family of three would be growing almost four years later after receiving an out-of-the-box Instagram message from Natalie on March 31, 2020.
“I can’t even negotiate. Frankie is the luckiest boy to have so many people loving him,” she wrote, before casually mentioning her selfless offer to be their surrogate.
Christian didn’t think she was serious, so he politely replied, “Ohhh thanks girls!! I am okay. We need to get there as soon as possible.
However, Natalie quickly clarified, “This is my last chance to have a baby.
“I want my tubes tied, but they have to cut me like a caesarean. So I might as well have a baby and help a family at the same time.
“Three healthy boys. Absolutely adore your family.
Clearly at a loss for words, the dad replied, “Oh wow are you serious?”
She insisted that she was “100% serious”.
“I would love to help you both. I have been following your journey from the beginning and I love the great life you both have given Frankie. It warms my heart,” her post read.
Christian – who documents his family life on a hugely popular Instagram page called The love of your fathers – says he was “obviously excited” about the “great opportunity” but was still skeptical.
“We met via Instagram for the first time, so I was surprised,” he explains to 7life.
“I said to him, ‘For real? Is this a legitimate offer? and she said “yes”.
The first meeting
The dads arranged to meet Natalie for coffee and ‘happened right away’.
“I was just amazed to listen to his story about his family and his children,” recalls Christian.
“She told us that she had always wanted to be a surrogate since she was 20 but didn’t know how to go about it and where to start.
“She started following us on Instagram long before Frankie was born, so it went from there.”
But they were stopped in their tracks after families were forced to wait until 2021 to begin the surrogacy process due to the global COVID pandemic.
As life started to get back to normal in New Zealand, the couple started catching up with Natalie who lived just an hour away from them, so it was “pretty convenient”.
“We got to know each other, to understand what we wanted to get out of it,” says Christian.
“Once we knew a lot more about each other, we decided to spend time with extended family.”
Before they could move forward, they had to figure out the adoption process by meeting with doctors, counselors and lawyers to get all their paperwork signed.
“It was a complicated process – the same process we went through with Frankie,” says Christian.
Under surrogacy arrangements in New Zealand, surrogate mothers cannot receive financial compensation for carrying someone else’s child.
However, the couple is allowed to pay for expenses related to surrogacy – including IVF treatment and counseling.
“The medical process for Lulu cost us about $25,000 to $30,000,” Christian says.
“It was a bit cheaper because the egg extraction was already done.”
Lulu was conceived by the same egg donor as her brother Frankie.
“Our sister-in-law Alisa donated her eggs when we had Frankie, so we froze the rest,” says Christian.
“We wanted a biological brother for Frankie, so we already had an egg ready to go.
“The first time we conceived Frankie, we used my sperm. This time we used Mark’s sperm for Lulu.
In March 2021, the couple officially announced that they were expecting their second baby.
“The [second] the pregnancy was interesting, it was more emotional this time, compared to Frankie, we were overwhelmed with excitement and happiness,” says Christian.
“It was a different feeling this time but so amazing.”
“We’re having a girl”
The couple had “no preference” with the gender of their second baby.
But they felt their family was “complete” after learning they were expecting a girl.
“At first we thought we were going to have a boy – we even prepared for a boy,” Christian says.
“But when we found out we were having a girl, we were thrilled.
“Mark’s family hadn’t had a daughter for 34 years. He has a family full of boys and only two girls.
“Discovering Lulu was very special for us.”
The parents were ‘over the moon’ when their daughter was born on November 10.
“Something we never thought possible was to have a child,” says Christian.
“But having two kids – we just feel very happy and content, it doesn’t feel real.
“We’re just super lucky to live these days. It is a blessing to have them in our lives.
However, the process was not yet complete, as the dads had to wait 12 days after Lulu was born to be legally recognized as her parents.
“It still makes me absolutely furious,” he says.
“I have been asking for changes from the government for three years now.
“We thought that at the time of his birth our names would be on his birth certificate. Unfortunately not.
“The process was long and frustrating.
“But she is worth every page and every legal document, every intrusive conversation and every visit to court.”
“We would do it 100 times”
For couples considering surrogacy, Christian says, “It’s a long, difficult and even devastating road when you can’t find a surrogate, but it’s so worth it.
“We would do it 100 times,” he said.
“You have to step up and find the right people to support you through this ordeal.”
He adds, “A lot of people struggle with coming out, and their parents may think they’ll never be able to have kids or live a full life, but you can achieve whatever you set your mind to. – and turn your dream into reality.
“We want to show everyone how lucky and happy we are. We want to give people the confidence to be themselves.