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Great State: Surrogate Mother’s Day

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DUNCAN, OKLAHOMA -- He's just past a month old now.

Little Gunner McCann Marlar was born April 4th.

His extended family still can't get over him.

He's still the center of the room no matter where he is. But his entry into this world is a little more complicated than his innocent face is able to tell.

For now, the story belongs to his biological parents Jason and Jane Marlar, and also to Jason's big sister Lori McCann, who carried Gunner for almost 9 months.

Lori continues, "And so it's taken two families but he's just bonded all of us together."

Jason and Jane married in 2009 thinking they could never have children.

Lori, already the mother of two, volunteered at their wedding to be a surrogate mom.

"We thought, oh well. That's never going to happen," said mom Jane Marlar." "That only happens in the movies," said Jason.

Lori told them, "I'll have the baby for you but you're going to have to hurry because I'm getting old you know."

When she repeated her promise a few years later the Marlars were ready to say yes.

"It was immediate," says Jane. "She was serious so we called the doctors."

Doctors implanted a single embryo in Lori and it took.

Right about the time her youngest child left the house for good, Lori gave birth to Jason and Jane's first child.

Lori recalls, "I'd just prayed about it and I knew. I just had peace from day one. It was what I was supposed to do."

It's one of those stories that will take a little explaining.

Everyone seated around this breakfast table insists the story will become part of family lore.

"Oh yeah," agrees Jane. "It's very important to me that he knows and that they have a very special relationship."

Peel back the layers through modern medicine and lost hope.

At the center of it all Gunner will someday understand the gift his Aunt Lori gave him long before he could say thank you, how she carried him until he was strong enough to give to his real mother and father, how the shared love of two families made one life possible.

Laying Gunner down for a morning nap, Jane Marlar says, "He's my precious angel gift from heaven and 'Aunt Lollie'."

Gunner and his parents live in Pampa, Texas. Lori and her husband Danny live in Duncan.