Friday, July 18, 2003

'I wanted to make a difference'

Surrogate mom to Joan Lunden's twins speaks out

By John Kiesewetter
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The Finneytown surrogate mother who delivered twins for TV personality Joan Lunden says she loves making "a difference in a couple's life."

Surrogate mother Deborah Bolig of Finneytown and Joan Lunden appear on ABC's 20/20 tonight.
(ABC photo)
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In her first interview since the June 10 birth of Kate and Max, Deborah Bolig tells Barbara Walters on ABC's 20/20 today (10 p.m., Channels 9, 2) that she considered being a surrogate before the birth of her own children.

This is Bolig's first public appearance since she appeared with Lunden on the cover of the March 10 People magazine. At that time, Bolig told The Cincinnati Enquirer she had been asked not to speak publicly about her role in the babies' birth.

"I loved being pregnant with my own three daughters," Bolig, 42, tells Walters during the program. "I didn't want any more (children) of my own, and I knew that I could do this for someone. I wanted to make a difference in a couple's life. And this seemed the perfect way."

Video from 20/20 interview
In fact, Bolig has changed the lives of two couples. She delivered surrogate twins for a family in England in February 2002.

Bolig confirms that she received $22,000 for her service, just a fraction of the six-figure amount that Lunden and her husband, Jeff Konigsberg, invested in fertility treatments and in vitro procedures to have their own child.

During the national telecast, Walters asks Bolig bluntly if the money affected her decision to carry the babies.

Lunden and twins Max and Kate with Barbara Walters.
(ABC photo)
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"Not very much," Bolig replies. "It was a chance to contribute to the family finances.

"When you break it down over the nine months, the 12 months, it's barely minimum wage, you know, hour-wise.

"It was a chance to send my daughters to camp, pay a couple of extra bills, and things like that. But finances can't be the No. 1 reason."

Lunden, 52, in her Connecticut home, tells Walters about her five-year attempt to start a family with Konigsberg, 42. Finally, they turned to a California surrogacy agency, which connected them with Bolig's name.

Bolig and Lunden exchanged letters last year before the TV personality and her husband decided to meet Deborah and her husband, Pete, in person.

"We went to lunch together, and Jeff says, 'It's like the ultimate blind date!'" Lunden says.

"We knew immediately ... (that) their hearts were in the right place," she says of the Boligs.

Lunden says she held Bolig's hand in a California hospital last October when Jeff's sperm and eggs from an undisclosed donor were transferred to Bolig's uterus.

"It's a miracle that we live in a world today that allows us to be able to have babies this way," says Lunden, who has three daughters (ages 23, 19, 15) from a previous marriage.

In November, Lunden was present for Bolig's first ultrasound - and learned she was having twins.

The former Good Morning America co-host also made an audiotape of her voice - "Hello, little ones! This is your Mommy!" - that Bolig would play "to her tummy" every night.

Lunden, her husband, and Bolig's spouse also were at Good Samaritan Hospital's delivery room in June. Lunden cut the umbilical cord for both babies.

"Pete (Bolig) said to Jeff, right after the delivery, that when he saw the joy on Deborah's face, as she looked at our faces, that he fell in love with her all over again," Lunden tells Walters.

Despite the parents' close bonds, Bolig says she feels no maternal connection to the twins.


"(From) the very beginning, they were not mine," Bolig says.

"Surrogates have a different mindset. They're not mine. They're not biologically mine. They never were.

"So from the minute we met Jeff and Joan, they were theirs. I was just simply a carrier, a protective carrier. And I felt very protective over myself and my body to make sure that these babies were as healthy as they could be, but not any kind of maternal twang. Not at all.

"I looked at 'em. I thought they were cute. But I have no connection as far as maternally," Bolig says.

She says she would like to be "minimally" involved in the twins' lives by receiving Christmas and baby pictures, and perhaps annual visits, with the parents' consent.

When Walters asks if she may be a surrogate again, Bolig instantly replies: "Absolutely."

"I know my friends are just rolling their eyes," she says. "You know, you just know immediately that I could do this again, until my body gives out."

She says she'd be happy to deliver a brother or sister for Kate and Max.

"Let them have the twins under their belt for a year or two," Bolig tells Walters, "and then come see me."


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