Shannon Cramer was devastated when she found out she couldn’t carry her own children but then another incredible family stepped in.


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I wanted four kids. God blessed me with an amazing husband and I could not wait to repackage our love into tiny fingers and toes. I dreamed about snuggling on the couch—Parker’s hand on my baby bump—eyes dancing as we experienced the wonder of having our family grow.

One year into our marriage that dream fell apart. I was diagnosed with three autoimmune conditions that made pregnancy risky. So now, we are using a gestational carrier to have our child.

Parker and I are ecstatic to finally be pursuing parenthood. It has been a journey of a thousand steps to get to this point; twelve years of working to improve my health so that I can be a good mum. 296 of my genes tested to investigate the likelihood of passing on my disorders. Six months of researching adoption before agreeing on surrogacy (it can be harder to adopt a child when you have health conditions.) An additional nine months of conversations about how to ethically approach IVF. Five friends who considered being a carrier and did not meet the strict guidelines. One incredible church who filmed our story and covered us in prayer as we posted our video to Facebook surrogacy groups. 

Five of our friends considered being a carrier and did not meet the strict guidelines.

But how was I going to trust a stranger to carry something so precious? Unborn babies can hear in the womb. I want our child to be in a loving Christian environment from the start. I was absolutely terrified…

Until Stephanie and her husband, Brad, answered our post. It takes a remarkable woman to give another couple the gift of parenthood. Most carriers have a strong desire to help others but are ultimately won over by the financial incentive. I can respect that. Surrogacy is a time-consuming and invasive process. But during our first zoom call, we discovered that Stephanie had another motive: “As Christians, Brad and I value loving others in extraordinary ways. We want to teach our five children that humans have the capacity to do so much good. With a little extra effort, you can do something lifechanging for another person.” When they signed off, I threw my arms around my husband and cried, “They are perfect!”

It takes a remarkable woman to give another couple the gift of parenthood.

Christians like Stephanie and Brad truly embody the golden rule: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 7:12 ESV. How can I adequately express my gratitude to a woman who looks into the eyes of her own children and considers how to give another woman that privilege? Parker and I will hear our child’s laughter, play Legos, go to dance recitals, and hopefully be lucky enough to have grandchildren because of this remarkable family who is willing to be inconvenienced for the sake of extraordinary love. It makes me wonder: “How many hurts could we heal if all Christians loved like this?”

No one would be on dialysis waiting for a new kidney. No child would grow up in a group home. Our churches would be full to bursting because this level of love screams Jesus. As Christ followers, we can help resurrect each other’s broken dreams. I may not have my own baby bump, but the Cramer clan is growing. One day Parker and I will tell our child about how Jesus’ love brought them into the world. We will visit the strangers who have become family as hearts knit together to perform a miracle. It is a wondrous way to begin.