TUCSON, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Though almost every industry has suffered losses during the pandemic, the surrogacy industry has been extremely hard for families to be united with their baby if they're not from the United States.
One Green Valley, Arizona woman found herself giving birth by herself in June, with her baby's parents thousands of miles away. Because of COVID-19, they couldn't get here in time for their son's birth, and it's left everyone with a lot of pain.
Heather Regan documented her pregnancy in pictures, honored to be part of another family's happily ever after. But that joy was taken away.
"It was a lot. It was an emotional rollercoaster for sure and nothing that I had prepared myself for," Regan said. "To see them born and to see them breathe for the first time, you can't ever get that back."
She was a surrogate for a Chinese family, and their plan had been for the baby's parents to be in the hospital room for the birth of their son on June 11. Instead, Regan ended up in the delivery room alone.
"I grabbed my phone immediately after I delivered him, and I took a video so that they could hear his first cry because they couldn't be there," she said. "I had to emotionally detach myself to the extreme, especially when I'm doing that because all those scents come back."
Regan had the option to take care of baby Jasper until his parents could get to the United States, but she worried she'd get too attached. So the agency, Egg Donor and Surrogacy Institute, stepped in to help.
"We made sure that one of our staff was there at the birth. We also had a nanny so we could take custody of the child and moved the child safely to the Los Angeles area," Parham Zar said, managing director of EDSI. "We'll make sure the baby is safe as long as the baby needs to be here."
For six weeks, the agency cared for the baby until the parents were finally able to get to the U.S. Jasper's parents are one of 25 international couples who used the agency and who couldn't be there for the births of their child because of COVID.
"The whole reason of me doing this and being a surrogate was so they could be here for the initial cry, and to hold him for the first time. And for that to all be taken away was devastating," said Regan.
But for Regan, despite the unexpected circumstances, she's just thankful she could give baby Jasper life-- now a piece of her always in China.