Frisco Teacher Has Twins, But Never Got Pregnant

Cancer victim unable to have children finds surrogate to deliver her twin girls

Two years ago, Frisco teacher Jennifer Burns' life was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer.

"I was never worried about the cancer thing," she remembered Tuesday. "I was more devastated I couldn't have kids."

She and her husband, Michael, a home entertainment system salesman, looked into adoption, but the waiting lists were full.

Then someone told them about the possibility of having their own children with the help of a surrogate mother.

They met Rita Wilcox through an agency.

"We thought about it for maybe two seconds, and it was definitely, 'Let's go,'" Michael Burns said.

Wilcox, already a mother of two, had seen a TV special on surrogate mothers and wanted to help a couple unable to have children.

The Burns paid about $50,000, including agency fees and medical bills. 

Of that, Wilcox received $20,000. But she said she didn't do it for the money.

"Just to see their faces and see how happy they are -- that's all that I really did it for," Wilcox said.

Doctors took eggs from Jennifer Burns before she underwent a hysterectomy and began radiation treatments for her cancer. With sperm from Michael, they created embryos which they later implanted into Wilcox.

The first time didn't work. They tried a second time.

"I was calling her up every day," Michael Burns said. "Pregnant yet? Pregnant yet? Pregnant yet?"

She was -- with twins.

Like all surrogate mothers, Wilcox signed a contract, agreeing to give up the babies after birth. Despite carrying the twins for nearly nine months, she said she felt no emotional connection.

"Since I had so much time to prepare myself that these were not mine, it wasn't a problem at all," she said.

The use of compensated surrogacy began in the 1980s. 

"But it's still not very common," said Dr. Barbara Webster, the OB-GYN who delivered the twins. "It's difficult to find gestational carriers -- or surrogates -- to do this huge sacrifice for another person."

On Dec. 3, Wilcox called the Burns and told them she was ready to deliver at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Hurst-Euless-Bedford.

It was a long drive from Frisco, and the delivery came fast.

The Burns arrived outside the delivery room -- right after their twin girls, Lilly and Lexie, were born.

"It's not reality when your wife is not carrying your children," Michael Burns said.

"I started crying immediately when the nurse came out and said they were…" his wife said, unable to finish her sentence because she was overcome with emotion.

"And then the girls got wheeled out," her husband said. "And Jennifer and I just looked and it was like, 'There's our daughters.'"

The Burns said they now think of Wilcox as family and welcome her into their children's lives.

Wilcox, of Euless, returned to work at a cell phone store after giving birth.

She said she considers herself an aunt.

"They're just kind of like my nieces, like when my own nieces were born," she said. "That's how they feel to me."

"This wouldn't have been possible without Rita," Jennifer Burns said, choking back tears. "I tell her 'Thank you' all the time, but I don't think she really knows how grateful we are."

Burns is now cancer free.

"It's been two years," she said. "Two years ago, we thought our life was falling apart. Now we have everything we've ever wanted."

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