Childminder becomes a surrogate and gives birth to four babies for other families

Olliman with her fourth surrogate baby, Orson, after an emergency C-section at 37 weeks. (Caters)
Olliman with her fourth surrogate baby, Orson, after an emergency C-section at 37 weeks. (Caters)

A mum, who has just one daughter of her own, has become a surrogate and carried four more babies to help other couples become parents.

Gemma Olliman, 38, from York, decided she wanted to help other families after hearing about surrogacy on television.

After having her daughter, Abby, now 13, and establishing her childminding business, Olliman felt like the time was right to properly look into surrogacy.

She gave birth to her first surrogate baby in 2015, then went on to have three others. She gave birth to her fourth surrogate baby, Orson, this February.

Olliman says she sees surrogacy as an "extreme form of childminding".

"I have the mindset straight away that the baby isn't mine, I also don't want another baby for myself," she explains.

"So it just feels so natural to give the baby back to their parents after the birth as I have just been looking after it while it's been growing inside me."

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Gemma Olliman while pregnant with her fourth surrogate baby. (Caters)
Gemma Olliman while pregnant with her fourth surrogate baby. (Caters)

"I get all the fun bits of watching them grow and playing with them," she explains. "I have amazing relationships with all of the families I have had babies for, we are always in contact.

"We have built great friendships from the process, they will be my friends for life.

"They also have brilliant relationships with my daughter, and she loves spending time with the surrogate babies too. They have a special relationship."

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Olliman with her third surrogate baby, James. (Caters)
Olliman with her third surrogate baby, James. (Caters)

After meeting the first couple she helped in 2015 through Surrogacy UK and successfully having a baby for them, Olliman says she loved the experience so much she decided she wanted to do it all over again.

So she went on to have a second baby for the same family in 2016.

"I had a little break after the first two babies, but I was still involved in surrogacy as it was really important to me now," she says. "I became a support worker for Surrogacy UK."

In 2019, Olliman says she met another couple she clicked with.

"Surrogacy is based on trust and friendship, so I really build on that before deciding to help a family," she explains.

"I knew I wanted to help them, and later that year I had my third surrogate baby, called James."

Watch: Khloe Kardashian hints at considering surrogacy.

Olliman says she feels lucky that all her pregnancies have been straight forward.

"I think that the amazing experiences I have, are what keeps me wanting to do it over and over again," she says.

"I absolutely just love being pregnant too. I love all stages of it, having a bump and watching it grow, feeling the baby moving about. It's the best."

In February this year, Olliman gave birth to her latest surrogacy baby, Orson.

"I met the parents, Nick and Karl, also through Surrogacy UK. I had known of them for a while and I was aware that they had been on an extremely hard journey to become parents.

"I spent a long time getting to know them, so it just felt really natural to help them."

In terms of whether she plans to act as a surrogate again, Olliman says she'd never say never.

"I am open to doing it again," she says. "It is a truly wonderful experience and the families have also changed my life as well as me changing theirs.

"It is hard to describe the feeling of pure joy that I feel when I see the baby being handed to their parents and watching them hug their child for the first time."

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Olliman with her daughter Abby. (Caters)
Olliman with her daughter Abby. (Caters)

Olliman says there is no financial gain, as it is illegal to pay for surrogacy in the UK.

"The surrogate can claim expenses from the costs that arise from being pregnant, such as maternity clothes or taking time off work, which is covered by the parents," she explains.

"It is just entirely based on wanting to help others.

"We have formed amazing bonds. And my daughter has with so many people that we have met through surrogacy, that love and adore her."

Olliman's daughter, Abby, has grown up around surrogacy, as her mum started having babies for other families when she was around six years old.

Abby even acted as her mum's birthing partner when she had her third surrogate baby.

"She loved being my birthing partner," Olliman continues. "It is just something that now seems so natural to Abby.

"I think she has learnt a lot from it too as she knows that life doesn't always go to plan and isn't always the fairytale of meeting someone, falling in love and having a baby.

"It has just been such a positive thing in our lives from the start."

Additional reporting Caters.

Watch: Tan France to be a father via surrogacy.