Motherhood Through Surrogacy: Chef Florabel Yatco Shares Her Story
“It’s definitely challenging,” Florabel Yatco said over the phone. With four children (ages 8, 4 and 9-month-old twins), the well-renowned chef spoke proudly of her family. The latter three were conceived through surrogacy, a process Yatco describes as entirely rewarding but not without its trials. “We were involved every step of the way and our surrogate was so accommodating. She would send photos weekly and keep us posted about all the details.” Yatco related that surrogacy of course comes with a lot of preparation and is not necessarily light on the pocket. It also required a lot of time and dedication as her surrogate was based in Las Vegas in the United States. “When the big day [delivery] came, it was as if I was the one giving birth,” she shared. “I even have a picture in the hospital room!”
Profound joy was evident in her voice as she revisited the experience. Which was understandable, considering Yatco had previously tried to conceive through IVF (in-vitro fertilisation) three times with no success. “The first time it failed, we thought there were just a few adjustments we needed to do. So, I was more careful the second time around; I lessened going to work and rested more. But the third time was the most painful, especially since I really decided to be on bed rest completely.” Still, her difficult experience did not discourage her from expanding her family. “Children are a blessing. They give life meaning and purpose,” she said proudly. She began doing her research about surrogacy and found good advice from friends, including Dr Vicki Belo.
Yatco’s surrogacy experience was a tad complicated when it came to the twins. They were born in April 2020, which was [around the time] the Philippines went on lockdown. “We weren’t able to go to the US during their birth. Even so, our surrogate and her husband were kind enough to act as carers for our kids for the few months we had to fix all the papers.” Yatco mentioned that this wasn’t normally the case for surrogates, so they deeply appreciated their kindness. She spoke fondly about the process and how it wasn’t as distant or complicated as many might think. “Some religions look down upon it, but I firmly believe that every child is a gift from God,” Yatco said.
Over the course of the pandemic and the year that was, the ever-busy chef finally had time to slow down. As she recalibrated her businesses and worked from home, she was able to get to know her newborn twins and really take the time to focus on being a mother. With all its bells, whistles and even unexpected tests, Yatco’s journey with surrogacy and IVF are all worth it, she noted. “Once you hold your child in your arms, everything fades into the background and nothing else matters,” she described. “It is the ultimate reward.”